From Our Editors
Spark addresses the nation's dropout crisis by connecting students from underserved neighborhoods with professionals who help motivate them to succeed academically and professionally. Spark matches 7th and 8th graders with mentors working in career fields aligned with the students’ strengths and interests for one-on-one, workplace-based apprenticeships. During the fall or spring session, students work on a specific project with their mentors at their workplace once a week for two hours after school. Additionally, Spark's parallel in-school Leadership Class reinforces the link between classrooms and careers while helping students build applicable skills for success. Each session culminates in a Discovery Night, where students present their projects.
To date, Spark has provided more than 2,350 apprenticeships to middle school students across the United States. Nearly all participating students come from neighborhoods where dropout rates exceed 50%, but Spark's alumni data show that apprentices have significantly higher graduation rates from high school, improved academic performance and attendance, and fewer suspensions.