May 15, 2018  /   Chicago

CPS Middle School Students and Spark Mentors Celebrate Career Possibilities at Daley Plaza

Contact: Ashley Richardson, Executive Director 
[email protected]

CHICAGO – May 15, 2018 – Spark will host its third annual Share Your Spark event on June 1, 2018 from 3:00  pm – 5:00 pm at Daley Plaza. The event, formerly called Discovery Day, celebrates the yearlong journey  taken by nearly 400 Chicago Public School (CPS) middle school students to discover future careers with the  support of mentors from more than 35 top companies. The event will showcase hands-on projects such as a  drone that detects fire, an art therapy magazine and a YouTube channel dedicated to promoting positive  stories about Chicago – all created during Spark’s workplace-based mentorships this spring. Share Your  Spark will also feature a performance by Boom Crack! Dance Company, music by Chicago’s own DJ Intel,  and a interactive art project created by artist Rich Alapack, famous for the We All Live Here art installations  seen throughout the city. The event is free and open to the public. 

Share Your Spark is sponsored by leading Chicago companies including Tyson, KPMG, agencyEA, CNA,  Google and the Lenovo Foundation. By partnering with Spark, these organizations recognize the important  role we all play in helping young people discover what’s possible for their futures. 

“KPMG has enjoyed a strong collaboration with Spark for the past four years”, says Samuel Pambah, Principal of Economic and Valuation Services at KPMG and Spark Executive Board Member. “Through this partnership,  a growing number of our young professionals have been able to give back to the community through  dedicated mentorship of CPS middle school students participating in Spark. The level of engagement,  collaboration, dedication, and teaming amongst these KPMG volunteer mentors is quite inspiring, and we  have seen the number grow each year. As a firm, our hope is that this commitment to our Chicago  community will help shape the next generation of leaders, and we are glad to partner with Spark in this  endeavor.”

Since fall 2011, Spark has partnered with nearly 2,000 CPS middle students to provide exploration,  immersion, and transition opportunities after school.. Spark’s progressive model empowers students to  develop the individual skills and community connections necessary for academic and career success. In fact,  92% of Spark students are on-track to graduate on time, compared to 68% of their peers. 

“As a CPS principal and parent of former Spark student, I have seen the impact of Spark on multiple levels,”  says Principal Carolyn L. Jones of Bass Elementary School, the newest member of the Spark in Chicago  Executive Board. “Spark makes the connection between school and future careers real for students who may  not get the exposure otherwise and with the support of our partners, businesses, civic leaders, and the  Chicago community, we are hopeful that we can prepare even more students to become our city’s future leaders.

The learning showcased at Share Your Spark is just one component of a Spark student’s journey. Through the Spark High School Pathways (HSP) program, students build on their mentorship experience by participating in workshops that allow them to make informed decisions about high school options. The program was especially helpful to the 350 8th grade students who participated this year and used the SparkPathfinder to help them narrow down options to submit in CPS’ new single application process for high schools., GoCPS.

Spark’s leading investors and sponsors include agencyEA, Ariel Investments, Blue Cross Blue Shield of  Illinois, BMO Global Asset Management, Chapman and Cutler LLP, Deloitte, Finnegan Family Foundation,  Google, Gochnauer Family Foundation, KPMG, LGIMA, Osa Foundation, Opus Foundation, Paul M. Angell  Family Foundation, Polk Bros. Foundation, REAM Foundation, Steans Family Foundation, Surgical Solutions,  Turner Broadcasting, Tyson, and West Monroe Partners. Spark is a proud partner of After School Matters,  Chicago Public Libraries, Chicago Public Schools, City of Chicago, and Department of Family and Support  Services. Raffle prizes and in-kind donations provided by AMC, Bright Matter Photography, Fogo de Chao,  PepsiCo, and Pinstripes. 

Spark is grateful for support of the program and Share Your Spark. Individuals, corporations, foundations, and  organizations interested in supporting and contributing to Spark can visit ​​. Follow @SparkProgramCHI on ​Twitter​ to view the #ShareYourSpark event excitement.  


— ABOUT SPARK:  Spark is a national non-profit organization that engages communities to provide career exploration and  self-discovery opportunities that help middle school students understand, experience, and pursue what’s  possible in Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and the San Francisco Bay Area. ​Spark partners with an  extensive network of schools and companies to create clear, supportive pathways for students that lead to  new aspirations, skill-building, improved school performance and increased preparedness for high school  transition. Middle school students become inspired to explore who they can become and understand how  their coursework relates to their future. 

Spark partners with Chicago Public Schools in communities on the south and west sides of Chicago including  Ariel Community Academy, Chavez Multicultural Academic Center, Deneen School of Excellence, Dewey  School of Excellence, Frazier International Magnet School, Joseph Kellman Corporate Community School,  John Fiske Elementary, Legacy Charter School, Namaste Charter School, National Teachers Academy, and  Perkins Bass Elementary. 


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