Spark, a San Francisco-based educational organization, has announced a three-year, $1.2 million grant from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation in support of its High School Readiness and Transition Initiative for underserved seventh- and eighth-grade students.
The organization will use the grant to refine and scale its programming to forty-one hundred middle-grade students in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia. By incorporating project-based learning apprenticeships — led by mentors in their workplace — with skill-building curricula focused on social-emotional competencies, the program works to keep students who show early warning signs of disengagement focused and on track for success in high school and beyond. The program includes counseling workshops in which students explore their high school options; a database and resource guides detailing the high school application and enrollment process; sessions covering the social and emotional aspects of the transition to high school; and monthly check-ins and a peer support system.
"Spark has shown promising outcomes in preparing students for high school, which is an essential ingredient on the path to college," said Dell Foundation program officer Todd Penner. "We are excited to see Spark students continue to grow and improve throughout their high school years, with greater likelihood of attending college. Spark's program aligns well with the foundation's College Preparation and Completion portfolio, which supports entities nationally that are increasing the number of low-income students who are ready for, enrolling in, and finishing college with a bachelor's degree."