SparkED: Meet the student volunteers on a mission to give underserved students a bright future
The guest post was written by Paridhi Latawa, Founder, and Neha Suri, Outreach Director, at SparkED.
With rapid technological advances, it comes as no shock that 85% of the future jobs that today’s college and high school students will pick up haven’t been invented yet. This is why it is vital to connect youth with current leaders to understand the impact of these advances on their career prospects. Unfortunately, educational barriers are still prevalent, with only 25% of first-generation students attend four-year institutions.
As a middle schooler, Paridhi realised this harsh reality while conducting mentorship sessions at Title 1 elementary schools. A visit to low socioeconomic areas in Asia further fueled Paridhi’s desire to do something for underserved students. Her experience found that students from low-income families had the desire to make their lives better but they seemed directionless. With numerous factors working against them, these young minds were not being given the support they needed and yet their desire to learn was incredibly evident.
Two years ago, tenth grader Paridhi founded SparkED, a non-profit organisation dedicated to educating, empowering and enabling youth to make informed decisions about their career and life trajectory. Two years on and SparkED has hosted professionals from various career fields, who have shared their expertise with students from 14 different US states and 11 countries. Offering tutoring, mentorship programmes, webinars, panels on college pathways and Instagram takeovers. SparkED gives underserved students the opportunity to envision themselves in the fields of their choice and the support and skills to take them there.
So far, more that 1500+ have benefited from SparkED’s offering. And, with the dedication of high school student volunteers like Neha, SparkED is expanding its outreach by partnering with international organisations in the UK, Asia and the US to create a real impact in students’ lives globally. But SparkED is just one example of an organisation bringing together students from around the world; we all have the ability to reach out in our communities to make a difference in others’ lives
Take social media, for example. Especially during the pandemic, social media has become an educational tool for teachers when more traditional methods are strained. From creative cooking projects to Tik Tok labs, teachers have come up with creative ways to keep students engaged and students are stepping up their game. Beyond the classrooms, student volunteers at SparkED are going above and beyond to enrich their community. Whether it is in-person or online, the connection doesn’t just stop here, so let’s make a change together!