Message Agency Welcomes Spark

Message Agency staff members with students from the Spark program
In the Community

As part of our commitment to the greater good, we recently signed on as a mentor organization with Spark, a national nonprofit organization that works to re-engage underserved 7th and 8th graders through workplace-based apprenticeships in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Oakland, and, most recently, Philly.

90% of Spark students enter high school on track for graduation, compared to 70% of their peers.  

Studies have shown the importance of intervention during the middle school years, and this mentoring program helps students maintain their interest in school during a critical point in their education. By pairing students with mentors in actual workplaces, the program intends to help students understand the value of education by exposing them to exciting careers and building their self-esteem and skills. In terms of keeping students in school, Spark boasts some impressive results: 90% of Spark students enter high school on track for graduation, compared to 70% of their peers.  

When we first met Jim Schroder, Executive Director of Spark Philadelphia, we immediately saw the value this model brings to the educational system and knew it was a good match for our workplace.  “Many of our staff, including me, have children in the Philadelphia public school system or are planning to enroll our kids,” says Marcus Iannozzi, Message Agency’s principal.  “We understand first-hand the importance of investing in schools and helping inspire students to learn and achieve.”  

In addition to a personal connection, the program aligns with Message Agency’s commitment to community development is at the local level; we focus our probono and volunteer work on education, community and economic development, and the arts. Message Agency is proud to join the growing list of partners committed in helping Spark’s efforts in promoting educational attainment through career exploration.

“Many of our staff, including me, have children in the Philadelphia public school system or are planning to enroll our kids,” says Marcus Iannozzi, Message Agency’s principal.  “We understand first-hand the importance of investing in schools and helping inspire students to learn and achieve.”  

Our partnership began by participating in the Spark Lab in the fall of 2015. We had the pleasure of welcoming students from General George Meade School for an interactive workshop with our team. The workshop was designed to spark (pun intended) conversation on careers alongside skill-building exercises.

After the 2-hour workshop at our office, two of our team members committed to serving as mentors starting in March of 2016: Kirk, our information architect and information designer and myself! Our principal, Marcus, and project manager, Emma, will act as supporting mentors as well. Students spend 2 hours per week for 9 weeks on location at our offices. During this time, they define and work on a project alongside their mentors. At the completion of the program, students present their projects at Discovery Night to friends and family.

We are happy for the opportunity and hope we can contribute meaningfully to student’s career path. Stay tuned for reports on our students’ progress as the mentoring commences!

To learn more, visit Spark.