The Issue: America's Dropout Crisis
According to a 2010 White House report, approximately 7,000 students drop out of school every day. That adds up to 1.2 million students each year. In certain underserved neighborhoods in Oakland, the dropout rate is 49.5%. Without a high-school diploma, young people are less likely to succeed as adults, and, according to the White House report, the nation loses $319 billion in potential earnings.
The Campaign: Launching a New Middle-School Apprenticeship Program
If this Grassroots campaign raises $500, then the Spark Program's Bay Area Advisory Board will contribute a $1,000 kickoff grant to help launch an Oakland branch of the Spark Program, which provides apprenticeship programs for middle-schoolers in the San Francisco Bay Area. With $1,500 total, Spark will meet its goal of launching programs in the fall that will serve 50 students at two Oakland schools. Each additional $10 donation will go toward extra apprenticeships for underserved youth.
All donations will be matched up to a $1,000 total by the Spark Bay Area Advisory Board. You can follow the progress of this and other Grassroots campaigns at the Groupon Grassroots website.
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.