what we do


We are a non-denominational, registered charitable organization in Canada and the United States. Our purpose is to empower young women, primarily from the Global South, to become the next generation of leaders in their communities. We achieve our purpose by providing scholarships and ongoing personal support to ensure that every student succeeds at university and is equipped to become an outstanding leader.

The biggest gender inequality issues that we face today, such as legal discrimination, unfair social norms and attitudes, decision-making on sexual and reproductive issues and low levels of political participation, are better resolved in societies where women and men are equally educated.

We strongly believe that better education not only gets women out of the cycle of poverty and develops the next generation of women leaders, but also makes them more resilient in vulnerable situations such as economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters. 

By working closely with our on-ground partner in the student’s country of origin and our university partners, we help these young women secure all the funding they require to pursue university programs at the Bachelor’s, Master’s, Professional and PhD levels.


Our philosophy

our mission

We aim to lift young women, their families and their communities out of the cycle of poverty by igniting a spark of hope. We also believe that empowering young women, especially those from countries in turmoil, strengthens local communities and is key to creating long-term transformational change.

Over the next 10 years, our goal is to support 1,000 young women leaders to achieve university education, at the Bachelor’s, Master’s, Professional and PhD levels. We’d love your support in making their dreams come true!

From our
donors and Partners

We are delighted to support the Foundation as it enables young women from the developing world to achieve their dreams and aspirations of getting an excellent university education. It is heartening to see these young women already becoming leaders in their communities and countries.
Leila and Sheraz Datoo, Toronto, ON
Education is the foundation upon which societies are able to progress. Empowering young women to become leaders of tomorrow by providing scholarships uplifts communities and makes the impossible, possible. I am proud to support this organization and help young women achieve their dreams.
Zahra Nurmohamed, Toronto, ON
I am impressed with the results that the Spark of Hope Foundation has been able to achieve - one girl, one placement at a time - in such a short period. The impact these girls are making in the world is not measured in dollars but in generations to come. They will be mothers to the world. We need to nurture them so that they in turn nurture the world we are leaving behind. Well done!
Yasmin Virani, Mississauga, ON
Even though tuition fees are heavily subsidized by UCA, it is still a challenge for many students. SoHF scholarships help selected students graduate debt-free and reduce their personal financial commitment.
Nasir Pirani
University of Central Asia
We are delighted to have a collaboration agreement with the Spark of Hope Foundation. By working together, the University’s and Foundation’s financial assistance has made it possible to support bright female leaders from the Global South at the PhD and Master’s level over the past four years. We look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship, and to the deep impact that we are confident these students will have in their communities, countries and in the world.
Prof. Richard Poulin, Director of the International Office/Assistant to the Vice-Rector
Université Laval
Unite Lebanon Youth Project has had the pleasure of partnering with the Spark of Hope Foundation since its inception in 2014. The Foundation’s support, often as a funder of last resort, has been crucial to enabling bright young women in Lebanon, often from refugee camps, pursue their dreams of becoming doctors, lawyers, engineers and other professionals at prestigious universities in the Middle East and abroad. It is heartening to see the product of our collaboration begin to make an impact in diverse fields of endeavour.
Melek El Nimer
Unite Lebanon Youth Project
our amazing TEAM

board of directors

Our Board of Directors provides governance, oversight and long-term strategic guidance. They bring different external experiences, from a wide variety of fields and with broad business and not-for-profit experience.

Cora Di Pietro

Interim Chair
Cora Di Pietro - temporary picture

Tanneke Heersche

Board Director
Tanneke - 400

Shairoz Kherani

Board Director
Shairoz Kherani headshot

Meera Sharma

Board Director
Meera Sharma Headshot_June2023 v4

Cassandra Dorrington

Board Director
Cassandra Dorrington headshot from web cropped

founder and ceo

Narmin Ismail

Founder and CEO
Narmin Ismail

Narmin Ismail has always been passionate about empowering youth with the skills, experience and aptitudes to become leaders. Her entrepreneurial career includes being Co-Founder of the Climb for Leaders, an international youth-oriented leadership challenge, and the CEO of the Daughters for Life Foundation.

In 2014, she decided to tackle the huge funding and accessibility gap at the university level for young females, especially in the Global South in areas of conflict and remote and under-served areas. So she established The Spark of Hope Foundation to provide university level scholarships to young women with a mission to help develop the next generation of women leaders.

Narmin has a B.A. in Psychology from York University and an MBA from Athabasca University.