In Los Angeles, nearly 7,000 students in LAUSD's class of 2013 never claimed their diplomas, a sobering statistic made worse for students from low-income, minority families -- 87% of those who dropped out were living near or below the poverty line, and 86% were Hispanic or African American.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that dropouts bring in just $20,241 annually, which is $10,000 less than high school graduates and over $36,000 less than a person holding a bachelor's degree.
As young teens transition to young adults, it is the best time to show them what is possible. It is also a time when 40-60% of 7th and 8th grade students from underserved communities become chronically disengaged.
Spark aims to help students in communities where dropout rates are high envision a connection between what they learn in class and the careers they might want to have in the workforce. During the apprenticeships, their schools offer lessons to reinforce those they are learning on the job.
92% of Spark students have graduated or are on track to graduate on time, compared to an average of 68% in districts Spark serves.
As Spark LA's leading transportation funder, the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation helps 300 students visit their mentors at workplaces throughout the LA area every week. Designed specifically for the middle school grades, Spark engages students with a powerful combination of mentoring, hands-on learning and a tailored in-school curriculum. Students complete a capstone project at their mentor workplaces each semester -- like developing a videogame with a software engineer -- while cultivating key professional and life skills, from problem solving to public speaking.
In addition to helping Spark pilot and refine a new student transportation model, LADF also played a central role in transforming the organization's annual Discovery Night project fair. Together, they hosted Spark's first region-wide Discovery Night at Dodger Stadium in December 2014, with more than 1,000 attendees and 261 projects on display. In May 2017, Spark will hold its third consecutive Discovery Night at Dodger Stadium.