We believe that underrepresented minority (URM) faculty can be the sparks that ignite diversity efforts in a department. However for our sparks to thrive and succeed in their broadening participation potential and in the geosciences, a truly inclusive environment is needed.That needs leadership, not just from the sparks, but from senior departmental partners.
The Sparks for Change Institute is a novel way of supporting and building diversity for geoscience departments using small groups as change agents. URM sparks and their senior departmental partner will be matched with an external diversity leader (their sponsor) to form a triad who can enact departmental-level culture change that supports broadening participation. 
The heart of the institute will be a 3-day workshop that will bring together ten such triads from a range of different institution types. Participants will be provided with the leadership skills necessary to lead departmental culture change, opportunities for sharing broadening participation strategies and support in developing individualized departmental plans for enacting change. Ongoing support, including personalized evaluation of efforts, development of resources and alliance building will continue to empower the groups to enact change upon return to their institution.  
The goal of Sparks for Change is to build a network of leaders in broadening participation, a collection of tested strategies for improving departmental support for broadening participation efforts, and a growing number of geoscience departments that are better equipped to attract and retain URM faculty and students, ultimately leading to a more diverse geoscience workforce.
For more information, please contact PI Robert Kirsch: rekirsch at 
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number 1645453. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.