Bill Sparks

Mentoring Excellence Award

Bill Sparks
Los Angelitos De Encinitas
Merrill Lynch
Bill Sparks believes in walking the talk of equality.

In 2002, his 5-year-old son, David, entered public school in tony Encinitas in Southern California, where 20% of the students were low-income and Hispanic, and 80% affluent and white. Noticing the Spanish-speaking kindergarteners relegated to a separate class, Mr. Sparks, an adviser in San Diego with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and wife, Sarah, fought to enroll their child in the segregated class.

Three years later, after the school removed the soccer goal posts from its fields, Mr. Sparks personally sponsored an indoor soccer team for the Latino kids, many of whom were David’s friends.

In 2008, tired of repeatedly trying to improve conditions for low-income students and being stymied by the school’s bureaucratic requirements, Mr. Sparks and his wife incorporated Los Angelitos de Encinitas to make a difference.

Last year, the organization served 225 disadvantaged children with after-school programs in sports and exercise, art and drama, and academic assistance.

According to the bilingual Mr. Sparks, who works exclusively with high-net-worth Mexican clients, “I always felt a moral emptiness, but my professional success allowed me to bring that [affluent] world to bear to help this other world.”