Student Stories


Your support helps us provide life-changing experiences to these amazing students, and many more like them! These are some of their stories.


Alante: Law Enforcement
Philadelphia, PA

Alante is an eighth grader who describes herself as helpful and generous.  Alante was struggling in school and teachers attributed her disengagement to the lack of positive influences in her life.  Through her Spark apprenticeships, Alante was matched with Gregorrio, an officer with the Philadelphia Police Department who works directly in her community.  Alante not only gained a mentor, but also a role model. A variety of hands-on activities and personalized attention helped Alante and Gregorrio to build a strong rapport. Alante learned about community relationships and the tools and procedures used in crime scene investigation.  In addition, Alante gained the confidence and skills to speak personally with adults.   Through the apprenticeship experience, Alante also discovered an interest in police work and shares that this is a field she will consider pursuing in her future.


Chance: Architecture & Engineering
Philadelphia, PA

Chance is a seventh grader who likes creating inventions, riding his bike and conducting science experiments. However, Chance had difficulty focusing in school and was easily distracted. Through Spark, Chance was paired with Scott, an architect at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design. Together they created a structural model for their Spark project to share at Spark’s culminating event, Discovery Night. This project helped Chance to connect what he learned in school with the fields of design and engineering. In addition, Chance took the skills he learned in his apprenticeship and used them in the classroom! His mentor, Scott, noted, “Chance is showcasing his design abilities in math class! He has a great ability visualizing and dealing with geometry.”


DaShawn: Hospitality & Culinary Arts
Philadelphia, PA

DaShawn is an eighth grader who likes playing video games, cooking and creating inventions. Unfortunately prior to Spark, DaShawn felt like he could not easily talk to adults. This changed when he met his mentor, “Miss Tootsie,” the owner of the catering company Tootsie’s located in Philadelphia’s renowned Reading Terminal Market. Not only did the pair form a close bond, but also the fast-paced and busy environment gave DaShawn an opportunity to interact with adults from every walk of life. As a result, he learned how to make eye contact, professionally greet customers, speak loudly and enunciate. DaShawn’s favorite things about his Spark apprenticeship were the experiences and the new things Miss Tootsie taught him. Having witnessed his own social-emotional growth, Dashawn recommended Spark to his classmates!


Shanice: Law Enforcement
Philadelphia, PA

Meet Spark mentor Corporal Walker and her student, Shanice. Corporal Walker and Shanice meet each week for two hours. Before Spark, Shanice struggled with controlling her temper and greatly disliked working with groups. When asked to work with her classmates, Shanice refused and instead opted to work alone. Since meeting with Corporal Walker, Shanice made the decision to help ensure her fellow classmates are safe. She is now the school Safety Officer/Hall Monitor, and is considering running for Vice President of her class! Corporal Walker helps demonstrate the value in education, self-confidence, and discipline, lessons that are essential to ensuring a student like Shanice can stay engaged, on track, and ready for a bright future.

Spark inspires 7th, 8th and 9th grade students to succeed in high school and beyond by connecting them with mentors in leading workplaces and supporting their academic journey with skill-building and resources. By engaging working professionals and connecting businesses with local communities, Spark empowers the next generation to perform better in school, graduate on time and lead fulfilling careers and lives.

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