Spark is the only U.S. program that addresses the dropout crisis by engaging middle school students in hands-on apprenticeships. Spark's unique volunteer-at-your-desk model turns working professionals into mentors who help students learn how their interests, career goals and education all intersect in a real workplace.

Spark Los Angeles launched in 2010, and by the end of 2013, will have served more than 500 students thanks to local support from schools, corporations, foundations and volunteer mentors. Spark students initially exhibiting signs of educational disengagment have bright futures: At 92%, Spark alumni have a graduation rate far above the 65% LAUSD average. With more engaged students and improved graduation rates, Spark apprenticeships change lives and communities.

How it works: Spark students travel to their mentors' workplaces 2 hours a week for 8 weeks. Students and mentors work together on a specific project--building a website, creating a budget, developing a marketing plan, etc.--so the apprenticeship is geared toward meeting those goals. An In-school curriculum helps kids make the critial link between their dream job and the classroom.


2004 San Francisco (headquarters)
2010 Los Angeles

Yoon S. Choi, Ph.D.
Los Angeles Executive Director

Los Angeles

Area Served:
Los Angeles County
Also Chicago, Philadelphia &
Northern California

Nonprofit (Donations + Earned Income)

# of Employees:

Guidestar Report

A Spark student shares her self portrait created during a photography apprenticeship.
A Spark student displays his final architecture project created with his mentor.
During a Spark apprenticeship, a veterinarian mentor works hands-on with his student.
A Spark student and mentor collaborate during a nutrition apprenticeship.