SHED Project kicks off in SVG…

Good morning from sunny St. Vincent and the Grenadines!

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

The SHED (Speech and Hearing Early Detection) Project has been busy since landing in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).  Over the last two days, thirty-one participants including representatives from schools in Kingstown, Georgetown, and Bequia as well as representatives from the Ministry of Health and the police completed training about hearing aid care and use of SHOEBOX audiometey as audio-technicians. Subsequently, twenty students were successfully screened at the School for Children with Special Needs in Kingstown.  In addition, approximately 20 parents participated in a workshop about speech and language skills and strategies to facilitate development of those skills.

Screenings will continue at the School for Children with Special Needs today and we look forward to traveling to Bequia tomorrow for screenings at the Sunshine School.  More updates to follow as we spark on in SVG!

Participants completed hands-on practical training during the SHED Project training on use of SHOEBOX audiometey.

Participants completed hands-on practical training during the SHED Project workshop on use of SHOEBOX audiometey.

7 days to SHED in SVG…

The countdown continues!  In just one week, I’ll arrive in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) to begin work on the Speech and Hearing Early Detection clinic aka the SHED Project!  We are in the thick of final touches for workshop preparations and putting supplies together for hearing aid check kits.  Our collaborators in SVG are busy as well with logistical planning on island.  It’s exciting to see plans coming together day by day.

Jeanine Jeaberg hearing supplies

Project Little Spark is grateful to Clearwater Clinical, developers of SHOEBOX audiometry, for recognizing the SHED Project as one of their humanitarian outreach activities and to the Cabot Trust for their financial support of this project.

Back by popular demand…here’s a sneak peek of one of the “hearing gamesSHOEBOX audiometry uses to screen hearing in young children.  Spark on!


Jeanine Jesberg    Project Little Spark prepares for the islands.

13 days to SHED in SVG…

In thirteen days, I’ll arrive in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) to begin work on the Speech and Hearing Early Detection clinic aka the SHED Project!  Excitement continues to grow as supplies are delivered daily and preparations for trainings and workshops are finalized.

Jeanine Jesberg

Project Little Spark prepares for the islands.

Much work remains so your good vibes and positive energy for successful preparations are welcomed.

Project Little Spark is grateful to Clearwater Clinical, developers of SHOEBOX audiometry, for recognizing the SHED Project as one of their humanitarian outreach activities.  We will be able to leave two SHOEBOX set ups for use in SVG after this initial visit because of Clearwater Clinical’s generosity!  Here’s a sneak peek of one of the “hearing gamesSHOEBOX audiometry uses to screen hearing in young children.  Spark on!


Bell School for the Deaf students prepare Fall 2016 shipment

Project Little Spark enjoyed working with Mr. Coleman’s class at the Bell School for the Deaf to prepare our next shipment of donated supplies.


The boys were quite serious about the color choices for their art projects!

Mr. Coleman and his kids learned about St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) as well as their global peers from The School for Children with Special Needs (SCSN) in SVG.  They were excited to send their peers well wishes. When asked to predict how the children might feel when they opened their package and knew someone in Chicago was thinking about them, one of the boys signed, “happy smile happy good”.  We decided that sums up the feeling pretty well!  We then had fun making art work to include in the Fall shipment.



Thanks to all who donated supplies over the last few months. We collected supplies valued at ~$300 to send to SCSN in this shipment. Your ongoing generosity and support are very much appreciated.

To quote one of our kids :  “thanks for the giving”, and, as always, keep sparking on!


In the news…Project Little Spark featured in The ASHA Leader

LML_webBuilding a Giving Generation
An SLP shows students with special needs how easy it is to help others who live far away but face similar challenges.

The ASHA Leader, August 2016, Vol. 21, 26-27. doi:10.1044/leader.LML.21082016.26

Helping others benefits everyone—helper and recipient. And that includes children with disabilities, who themselves receive extra support, says speech-language pathologist Jeanine Jesberg. That’s the thinking behind Project Little Spark (PLS), which she launched last year. PLS matches special education students in Chicago with their peers in the Caribbean.

A frequently quoted line from “The Divine Comedy,” Dante Alighieri’s epic poem, inspired the name of Jesberg’s fledgling nonprofit and serves as its mission statement. The most common translation: “From a little spark may burst a mighty flame.” This founding philosophy is proven each time Jesberg visits another group of students and sees their eagerness to help collect and ship school supplies to other kids who face similar challenges.

“All of us really want to show kindness,” Jesberg says, “and most people just need an opportunity to know how.”

The SLP, grant writer, research administrator and nonprofit consultant worked for years to help other groups figure out the “how.” After running a private practice that employed about 15 other SLPs, Jesberg landed a research position at the University of Chicago’s Early Childhood Intervention Center. She used her business background to make her program financially profitable, while completing training in research administration and nonprofit management. Jesberg soon became the center’s director—the first SLP to hold the position—and eventually rose to executive director for the university’s Institute for Mind and Biology.

Igniting the spark

The job was going well, “but I felt myself searching for what I really wanted to do,” Jesberg says. “What can I contribute to the world?” After some research to find out what might be missing in the realm of supporting children with communication or other disorders, she decided to launch Project Little Spark. Jesberg left her full-time position, but she continues to consult for other organizations as well as perform research administration work for Northwestern University.

Because of her consulting and administration work, she doesn’t need to draw a salary from PLS. Instead, she devotes all grant money, fundraising efforts and individual donor support to pay for packing and shipping. The Chicago-based students and their teachers solicit and collect the new school supplies to fill those shipments.

When Jesberg talks to students in Chicago and explains about the project and who receives the donations, she’s continually stunned by the strong reactions. Many of these children don’t realize there are kids in other parts of the world with the same disabilities, she explains. “It really gives them an idea of the world being bigger than them and their families.”

Once, after giving a presentation and showing photos of children in the Caribbean, a student ran up to Jesberg excitedly making the sign for “same” over and over again. He’d noticed a child in a photo wearing the same hearing aids he wears and couldn’t wait to send her something.

In addition to soliciting donations, the students add drawings, letters, photos, videos and other personal items. Jesberg is especially touched when a student gives something of their own—usually something of significance—like a favorite superhero pencil case or a new box of sharp crayons.

Fanning the flame

Collections of new school supplies flow fairly easily. One anonymous donor regularly gives new books, including textbooks, classic tales and even a series about Caribbean children. Other donors drop off leftover items they can’t use but that recipient schools desperately need, like boxes of unused chalk. Students gather the supplies, count and sort all items, add personal messages and prepare boxes for shipping.

Jesberg lived in the Caribbean for a year and understands how things work “on island time.” This experience guides her as she organizes logistics for PLS. For example, international shipping remains one of the organization’s biggest expenses and most complex processes. However, thanks to her familiarity with island logistics, Jesberg knows how to make sure packages get to partner schools intact and without delay.

Some effects of organizing these student-to-student giving projects surprised Jesberg. She predicted local students would expand their communication skills as their worlds expanded. What she didn’t expect—or request—was for recipient schools to form ongoing relationships with their U.S. peers by sending back letters, drawings and photos.

In addition, teachers from the Chicago schools report improved behavior from the students involved with the project. When they tell Jesberg stories about random acts of playground helpfulness and frequent voluntary sharing, she is determined to continue fanning the flames of kindness ignited by Project Little Spark.

Finding Resources for Your Nonprofit

Jeanine Jesberg launched her own nonprofit, Project Little Spark, and she consults with other organizations to help them find funding, successfully apply for grants, and manage their organizations. She recently started a new initiative called The SHED Project, a Speech and Hearing Early Detection (SHED) clinic in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Below she shares her favorite resources to help get and keep an organization funded.

Funding sources
The Pollination Project Foundation exists solely to help people start their own nonprofits by making seed grants of $1,000 each. Jesberg used one to found Project Little Spark.

The Foundation Directory shares searchable details on more than 100,000 U.S. foundations, including their funding interest areas, to help organizations find a funding match.

Grant-writing tips
Non-profit Guides provides grant-writing tools for nonprofit organizations including a sample grant proposal, inquiry letter, proposed budget, applications and links to grant-writing resources. gives information on the elements of a proposal, general guidelines and steps to take before writing your proposal. The website also lists funding resources.

The Foundation Center developed a free online course on finding the right donor partners and submitting a successful funding proposal.

The Minnesota Council on Foundations offers a detailed outline on how to write a successful grant proposal.

The SHED Project takes one step closer to implementation…

Sharing a little behind-the-scenes peek of our work over the last few weeks…


Setting up our first SHOEBOX audiometry system for The SHED Project

Two of Project Little Spark‘s partner schools, the School for Children with Special Needs in Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) and the Sunshine School in Bequia, SVG, are participating in The SHED Project, a Speech and Hearing Early Detection (SHED) clinic.  SHED provides speech & hearing screenings, hearing aid checks, and workshops.  In addition to providing clinical services for children and education for their caregivers and teachers, the SHED project provides training for local people to become audio-techs with the intent to create local capacity for project sustainability.

SHED clinics are now outfitted with SHOEBOX audiometers powered by the Essie system (the patented wearable portable solar energy generator that allows everyday items to become personal power sources).  SHOEBOX is the first clinically validated iPad audiometer that provides diagnostic accuracy in a small mobile unit.

We are currently in the midst of required trainings to operate SHOEBOX audiometry!! After successful completion of our training, SHOEBOX (uniquely capable for use outside the traditional sound booth) will allow us to test children and adults during annual checkups and surveillance testing in virtually any environment on island.  We are thrilled to be the first health care professionals to bring SHOEBOX to the Eastern Caribbean and are excited to be one step closer to implementation.  Stay tuned for future updates on our progress.

Next steps:  workshop development


Have audiometers, will travel…


Our SHOEBOX audiometers have arrived-small enough for remote travel and set up as well as Henry approved!

Preparations are in the works for The SHED Project, a Speech and Hearing Early Detection (SHED) clinic, and we’re excited to share that we recently received our first shipment from SHOEBOX audiometry.  SHOEBOX generously offered a significant discount for our project; consequently, we are now able to provide two audiometers for the first clinic set up in Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).  More updates to follow…

The SHED Project:

1. Provides speech & hearing screening as well as hearing aid wellness clinics in Kingstown and Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG)

2. Provides caregiver and teacher training at the School for Children with Special Needs in Kingstown, SVG and the Sunshine School in Bequia, SVG (two partner schools with Project Little Spark)

3. Trains local persons to serve as audio-techs to ensure project sustainability without needing to rely on experts from abroad

The SHED Project is supported in part by funding from The Ella Lyman Cabot Trust.