The Making of a Movement
Spark began in 2004 as a simple yet powerful idea. Two educators in the San Francisco Bay Area believed that mentorship and career exploration could transform minds, communities and futures, unlocking possibilities for young people at a critical stage of development.
When Chris Balme and Melia Dicker started their careers in education, they found a troubling gap between schools and communities. Middle school students were disengaged and confined to the classroom — a world apart from the wealth of resources and opportunities that neighboring businesses had to offer. But where some saw barriers, they saw possibilities.
Spark was founded on the belief that all young people should be inspired to explore who they can become, and all adults have a role in supporting them in that journey. What began with a few students and volunteer mentors has grown into a national movement helping students to discover career options and connect their future with classroom learning through skill-building and mentoring. From its roots in the Bay Area, Spark has expanded to Los Angeles in 2010, Chicago in 2011 and Philadelphia in 2013.
Coast to coast, Spark is building The Possibility Movement: a diverse community coming together to help middle school students understand, experience and pursue what’s possible. Based on a decade of success, the movement is making a difference: 92% of Spark students have graduated on time or are on track to do so, compared to only 68% of their peers.