1.3 million American high school students drop out of school annually. That’s equivalent to more than 7,200 every school day. Spark’s mission is to provide life-changing apprenticeships to youth in underserved communities across the United States, ultimately helping them to stay in school.
Spark is the only program in the country that addresses the dropout crisis by re-engaging at-risk middle school students through hands-on, individualized apprenticeships in their chosen “dream jobs.” The Spark experience creates a powerful sense of educational relevance for students, while providing the skills and confidence necessary for them to find success in school and in life.
After seven years of programming nationally, over 1,200 life-changing apprenticeship experiences have been created. Spark’s longitudinal alumni data shows that alumni have significantly higher high school graduation rates, show improved academic performance and attendance, and have fewer school suspensions. In recognition of its innovative and scalable approach to addressing the dropout crisis, Spark received the internationally renowned Ashoka Fellowship in 2010 and the Draper Richards Kaplan Fellowship in 2008. The effectiveness of Spark’s programming drew increasing attention in 2011, with national media coverage on the Today Show and the NBC Nightly News.