Sparking Career Excitement & Exploration in the Middle Grades

Sparking Career Excitement & Exploration in the Middle Grades

Posted: January 29, 2024

PEF’s Middle Grades Initiative aims to provide career exploration and self-discovery opportunities that help middle school students understand, experience, and be inspired to pursue what’s possible.

Through a combination of transformative workshops and job site visits, Spark Philadelphia is engaging students in seventh and eighth grades to think about options for their futures in new and exciting ways.

This past fall, middle school students from Tilden Middle School, Henry C. Lea School and Middle Years Alternative School participated in site visits and Spark Labs to develop a broader understanding of industries and careers of all shapes and sizes.

And we’re pleased to announce that Spark Philadelphia program has expanded to include students from Samuel Gompers School, with site visits and labs to begin this winter and spring.


In November 2023, 7th and 8th graders from Middle Years Alternative attended a site visit at Leonardo Helicopters in Northeast Philadelphia. Guided by Leonardo Technicians, the visit included a look inside a helicopter, touring the facilities where the helicopters are constructed, walking the runway where helicopters are tested, and seeing an aviation simulator along with the training classrooms. During the visit, students also learned about the various career pathways in the field of aviation.


Thank you to Leonardo Helicopters, along with our other generous SPARK partner companies, including Ballinger, Citizens Bank, KieranTimberlake, NK Architects, Seer Interactive, Spark Therapeutics, and WHYY for engaging our students and offering valuable college and career exposure!


If you or your company is interested in learning about ways to become involved as a sponsor, volunteer or mentor, please contact Stacey Sandle, Spark Program Manager, at

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