Spark engages communities to provide career exploration and self-discovery opportunities that help middle school students understand, experience and pursue what’s possible. Spark’s powerful program combines mentoring, hands-on learning, and access to resources by transporting opportunity middle school students from school communities to corporate campuses, partnering them with career professionals for 1:1 mentoring. Through Spark Labs, Spark Mentorship, and High School Pathways, Spark students participate in activities that build their social-emotional competencies including self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making.
Age Groups Served
- Middle School
- Parent and Caregiver Engagement
Geographical Area Served
- City of East Palo Alto
- City of San Francisco
- County San Francisco
- County San Mateo
- State of California
- Academic Support
- Social Emotional Learning
Be a student and a mentor Work with passion and compassion Commit to collaboration and diversity Aim high and true Trust and respect in all relationships
Spark defines and measures impact around three central pillars: Social Emotional Skills, Social Capital, and Performance & Engagement. Spark’s student curriculum and evaluation tools align with CASEL — the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. CASEL’s widely used framework centers on five core social and emotional competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. A growing body of research from groups like CASEL and the Chicago Consortium for School Research shows that these non-cognitive skills are important contributors to a host of positive student outcomes, including academic success. The Social Emotional Skills pillar focuses on student growth in the five CASEL competencies noted above. The Social Capital pillar focuses on growing awareness of and access to relationships, resources, and information for educational and career success. Finally, the Performance & Engagement pillar centers on key indicators of academic success: grades, attendance, behavior, and high school graduation. Students who finish 9th grade on-track are nearly three times more likely to graduate from high school than students who did not. Spark’s rigorous program evaluation process begins with surveys, which are collected at three points throughout the Spark Lab and Mentorship experiences. Surveys are collected not only from students, but also their teachers and mentors, in order to assess progress toward target outcomes. Spark also monitors mentor engagement, since program data show that mentor satisfaction is correlated with positive student outcomes. Finally, Spark has established data-sharing agreements with partner districts in order to track the student Performance & Engagement indicators outlined above.
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