Project SPARC (Springfield Participatory Action Research Crew) is an intergenerational team of young adults and invested members of the Smith College, Project Coach, Jandon Center, and New North Citizens’ Council community. Funded by a Participatory Action Research (PAR) grant supported by AmeriCorps, we are on a mission to learn about what impacts young peoples’ life paths after during and after high school. Now in our third year of this project, we have run over 50 interviews, focus groups, and community events with the purpose of listening and taking action to improve the experience of young people as they transition out of high school and into the real world.
What did we hear? After high school, I felt stuck.
We have documented a few of our interviews in the form of digital stories. We encourage you to take a look to hear first-hand about how young people in Springfield navigated their own transitions out of high school.
We have since launched a new series of interviews to dig deeper into this topic. We want to know what out of school (OST) and community programs can do to support young people in their transition into the real world. Whether going into college or a career path, this transition is tough, especially for first generation students and youth living in economically-challenging areas. Our goal is to understand what helps, and to share that information with the wider world.
Over the past three years, our work has branched into several initiatives.
- In 2020, we piloted the Springfield Young Leaders Fellowship, a virtual network meant to support young people in charting a path after high school.
- We also launched a series of resource guides, including this digital guide for local Western Mass students, a guide for local educators, and an Instagram campaign called Springfield Choose Your Future.
- Most recently, we published a piece in Other Education, which outlines our findings surrounding the six pillars of a successful of out of school time program.