By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – When the bell rings, most 7th and 8th graders don’t pack their bags and head to work. But for the middle schoolers in Spark, a national non-profit that will launch its first Philadelphia programs in January, that’s exactly what’s on tap.

Some head to tech companies to learn how to write code or build computers. Others might work with architects, chefs, or lawyers.
Wherever they end up, they’ll explore careers through Spark’s tailored, hands-on apprenticeship program. They’ll gain confidence, communication skills, and a clear idea of how education can help them succeed beyond their classrooms.

Today, about 40% of Philadelphia students don’t finish high school on time. By intervening in middle school, Spark catches students who are at risk for joining that staggering statistic and helps them get back on track.

Volunteering as a Spark mentor for two hours weekly makes a big difference in the lives of our city’s young people. To learn more about the program and apply to volunteer, visit

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