$100 from 100 Campaign
San Francisco, California
London, United Kingdom
Doug Harris, Executive Board Member of Spark Chicago, has launched the $100 from 100 Campaign to support Spark's life-changing apprenticeships. The goal of this campaign is to increase awareness about Spark's work and to raise $100 from 100 different individuals. Please see below for more information about Spark, and thank you for your support of this important work!
The Issue: 30% of American youth drop out of high school. The consequences of dropping out are devastating to students, families, and local economies, and saddle the country with higher costs for support services and incarceration - estimated at $260,000 per student dropping out. Low-income youth are four times more likely to drop out than their more affluent counterparts.
Spark's Solution: Spark combats the epidemic of disengagement and dropping out among low-income youth early, with a unique apprenticeship model that brings 7th and 8th grade youth into professional workplaces. As students connect education to tangible career opportunities, they increase motivation and performance in school. Spark has served over 2,300 students across the country and is positioned to double their impact over the next few years.
Communities Served: Spark's apprenticeship model launched in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2005, expanded to Los Angeles in 2010 and Chicago in 2011, and will serve its first group of middle school youth in Philadelphia in Spring 2013.
Students & Mentors: Spark partners directly with schools serving high-need, low-income youth. Teachers refer students who are struggling with motivation and engagement in the classroom and/or have few positive relationships with adult role models. Once selected, each student is matched with a mentor based on his or her interests and passions. Mentors work in fields ranging from culinary arts to computer programming. Spark staff support each apprenticeship to ensure a rewarding experience for both student and mentor.
The Model: Over the course of a 10-week session, the Spark apprenticeship gives students the opportunity to explore a career field and connect their interests with professional experiences through weekly two-hour meetings at their mentors' workplaces. Together, each student-mentor pair works on a capstone project to present to the community at an end-of-session Discovery Night ceremony. A school-based Leadership Class that teaches critical life skills such as financial literacy, future planning, public speaking, networking and community awareness complements the apprenticeship experience. The Leadership Class also draws connections between the applied learning in apprenticeships and the curriculum taught in school, demonstrating for students the importance of completing high school and creating career goals.
Impact: 92% of Spark alumni are on track or have graduated from high school (national). Spark alumni also present a significantly lower truancy rate and have fewer suspensions/expulsions than their peers. Spark alumni have college- or career-related goals, and are more interested in school and in learning new things. A recent study also found statistically significant improvements in students' grades after completing Spark.
Spark is a national nonprofit that re-engages underserved seventh and eighth grade students, keeping them on track and ready for success in high school and beyond through workplace-based apprenticeships that uniquely combine mentoring, project-based learning, skill building and career exploration.
By intervening early, Spark partners with schools to reach disengaged students at a critical inflection point in their education. Spark brings students out of the classroom and into the workplace for project-based mentoring coupled with an in-school Leadership Curriculum that emphasizes the importance of skills including teamwork, time management and goal setting to prepare students for a successful transition to high school. Supported by more than 80 hours of powerful, hands-on programming, 89% of Spark students enter ninth grade on track to graduate on time, compared to 70% of their peers.