For many of our students, much like Aldair and his siblings, traveling to a tech company in a thriving part of the city becomes a reality through Spark. For families from diverse communities, Spark serves as a vessel for students to experience new environments that aren’t found in their adjacent neighborhoods. With strong partnerships between Spark and schools/businesses, we’re able to strengthen community ties and promote a culture of possibility across family generations – showing three siblings from Bethune Middle School that they have the skills needed to work at tech giants like Cornerstone OnDemand.
In 2016, Aldair joined Spark as a Bethune Middle School student in hopes of developing communications skills while exploring career options for his future. Aldair was matched with Jason, a mentor at Cornerstone OnDemand. Together, they took on the challenging project of researching static electricity – what is static electricity? What is it used for? Why is it caused? They dove deep into the project, not only learning about static electricity, but also on how to conduct research and gather sources. Now a 10th grader in high school, Aldair is using those research skills for his classwork, as well as finding college options to pursue his passion on building computers. After Spark, Aldair now feels more comfortable communicating with adults and isn’t afraid to meet new people. After Aldair completed Spark, he encouraged his younger brother and sister to join Spark as well – serving as the first of three generations to participate in our program.
Sebastian, Aldair’s younger brother, joined Spark as a Bethune Middle School student in 2017. After hearing first hand from his brother on how he benefited from Spark, Sebastian came to Spark with excitement for working with a mentor and learning about a tech company. In the fall, Sebastian was matched with a mentor at Cornerstone OnDemand, and together, they learned everything there is to know about computers – they took one apart, examined it, and put it back together to understand what makes it tick. In the spring, Sebastian took his interest for computers one step further and worked on a project that involved learning to code. Through Spark, Sebastian learned not only how to build a computer, but how to code and create programs. Sebastian now continues to develop his skills in computers with the goal to pursue a career in computer science and work for Cornerstone OnDemand. As Aldair influenced Sebastian to join Spark, it was now Sebastian’s turn to influence the third generation in his family: his younger sister Doralie.
Last fall, Doralie, a 7th grader at Bethune Middle School, joined Spark because she believed it would help her explore her career options and begin to think about her future. Doralie learned about new work environments and companies as well as careers options available. One of Doralie’s passions is to draw, and saw a window of possibilities for herself at these companies. Out of the five different companies that she explored, she was most intrigued by Cornerstone OnDemand and Hylink Digital Solutions for their art department dedicated to creating ads. After completing Spark Labs in the fall, she is now excited to be matched in the spring with a mentor at one of these workplaces to continue exploring her passion for drawing. As Doralie will step into her mentorship with enthusiasm, she’ll now understand her brothers experiences – being the third generation in her family to immerse herself in a world of possibilities.