Chicago, IL, June 15, 2016 (Newswire.com) - Thousands gathered on Daley Plaza on Friday, June 10, 2016 for the inaugural, citywide Spark Chicago Discovery Day to celebrate hundreds of Chicago middle school youth who participated in Spark’s workplace-based mentorships with professionals at companies like Google, KPMG, Tyson Foods, West Monroe Partners, and more. The event showcased the talents of over 300 students through hands-on projects like musical and dance performances, pitching new businesses, building mobile applications, robots, and more.
Discovery Day was attended by thousands of Chicagoans including Deputy Mayor and Chief Neighborhood Development Officer Andrea Zopp and CPS Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson who visited with Spark students who showcased their skills and project ideas. One such group of students was Charles, Michael, and Semaj of Frazier International Magnet School who developed the “Shoot Hoops Not Guns” campaign which has raised $20,000 to support anti-gun violence efforts in Chicago like Noah’s Arc Foundation and Pastor Mike Pfleger of St. Sabina and received a call for support from former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
"Every Chicagoan has a role to play in ensuring our youth have the tools and support they need to succeed, and expanding youth mentoring services and critical STEM opportunities will ensure our children are on a path for a bright future. I want to thank the mentors, partner companies, and supporters of Spark for providing Chicago's students with opportunities that will engage and inspire our next generation of STEM leaders to move Chicago forward."
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, City of Chicago
Since the launching of the Chicago program in 2011, Spark has served over 1,000 Chicago Public School (CPS) students. Through dynamic apprenticeships, Chicago’s youth are exploring career fields including entrepreneurship, STEM, law, architecture, and more. These workplace experiences empower students to dream big and envision themselves working in some of the nation’s top industries and companies.
“Every Chicagoan has a role to play in ensuring our youth have the tools and support they need to succeed, and expanding youth mentoring services and critical STEM opportunities will ensure our children are on a path for a bright future,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “I want to thank the mentors, partner companies, and supporters of Spark for providing Chicago’s students with opportunities that will engage and inspire our next generation of STEM leaders to move Chicago forward.”
Discovery Day was sponsored by leading Chicago companies and investors including Bain & Company, CEB, Chapman & Cutler LLP, Deloitte, DeVry Foundation, Field Foundation, Finnegan Family Foundation, Google, KPMG, LinkedIn, Malott Family Foundation, Northern Trust, Osa Foundation, Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, Polk Bros. Foundation, Pritzker Foundation, REAM Foundation, Steans Family Foundation, Tyson Foods, United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, West Monroe Partners, and Zell Family Foundation. Spark is a proud partner of After School Matters, Chicago Public Schools, the City of Chicago, and Department of Family and Support Services. The event also included music by Daniel Moose, prizes provided by Eli's Cheesecake, photography by NAH Life Productions, and an art tent featuring renowned Chicago artist Matthew Lew.
“As a CPS Principal leading a school in the community in which I grew up, I am deeply committed to ensuring that every scholar receives a high quality, enriched academic and social experience. Spark is critical partner in accomplishing this goal and I am so proud of what we have accomplished together for our youth” said Principal Cleophas (CJ) Rodgers of Dewey School of Excellence who also recently joined Spark Chicago’s Executive Board. “Discovery Day showcased how Spark is transforming lives and the city of Chicago. Spark students represent the promise of tomorrow, and with the support of our partners and the Chicago community we are hopeful that we can reach even more students in the years to come.”
Spark is grateful for support of the program and the Discovery Day event. Individuals, corporations, foundations and organizations interested in supporting and contributing to Spark can visit www.SparkProgram.org. Follow @SparkProgramCHI on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and use #DiscoverSpark to view the Discovery Day excitement.
Spark is a national non-profit organization that provides life-changing apprenticeships to middle school youth in underserved communities in Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and the San Francisco Bay Area. We re-engage seventh and eighth grade students in their education, keeping them on track and ready for success in high school and beyond through workplace-based apprenticeships that uniquely combine mentoring, project-based learning, skill building and career exploration.
Spark partners with Chicago Public Schools to serve school 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, Irvin C. Mollison Elementary School, John Fiske Elementary, John Milton Gregory Elementary School, Legacy Charter School, Namaste Charter School, National Teachers Academy, and Perkins Bass Elementary.
Source: Spark Program