I’ve been caught a little off guard that Spark+Mettle turns two this week. That doesn’t make me sound like a particularly effective and tuned-in CEO, does it? I’m going to blame jetlag. That doesn’t make it sound any better. But the reason for the jetlag was a week-long visit to the ed tech community in Silicon Valley. The trip, facilitated by Teach for All (www.teachforall.org), allowed me to speak to companies, investors and non-profits working at the forefront of the ed tech space. Outside of the many meetings, I had the opportunity to workshop my vision for Spark+Mettle with my social entrepreneur peers, including the brilliant Tom Ravenscroft of Enabling Enterprise. It was an intensive week for us all. I arrived, honestly, in a bit of a fog. I wasn’t entirely sure how we could integrate all the exciting projects Spark+Mettle has been working on into a cohesive, manageable, scalable whole.
I returned to a chorus of birthday wishes. It’s pretty good, I have to say, to feel both grounded and clear-sighted.
In thinking about our next steps, I have spent time looking at all we’ve achieved so far. I am humbled and amazed by what our tiny team and our growing community have made happen in just a handful of months.
In two years we’ve grown from working with just 13 young people to supporting over 600 to identify, develop and showcase key character strengths and soft skills.
• 100% of young people on our Star Track programme say that it is “very good” or “excellent”—citing networking opportunities, personal insight and professional development as the key elements of the programme. Out of our recent Star Track graduates, over a third are now in paid employment.
• Over 20 young people worked side by side with professionals on our Dreamers’ Supply Company project and gained experience developing products that are now for sale at The Design Museum in London. The workshops increased their creativity, entrepreneurship and collaboration skills.
• Since its launch in January 2013, over 450 active youth users on our Discoverables platform have improved at least one character strength or soft skill.
And there’s so much to come. In September of this year we are moving into shared offices in central London, alongside a number of ultra-inspiring maker organisations. We have a golden opportunity to provide space and time to young people, and to enable even greater numbers to get involved in our work. We are particularly excited about offering paid traineeships to long-term unemployed young people. We will also be able to offer affordable workspace to those looking to start their own small business, social enterprise or to freelance. To all aspiring young people working with us, we will provide the support and networks they need to give them the best odds of success.
That’s in the short term. Long term? Our aspirations are set high. In five years’ time we expect:
• over 4 million young people worldwide to have taken our online diagnostic survey and have acquired a greater understanding of their strengths and wellbeing;
• 400,000+ active online users (who have each attempted 3+ missions or challenges);
• 15% of active, young jobseekers to credit Spark+Mettle with landing a position (as opposed to 3.5% average success rate of those involved in the Government’s Work Programme);
• 250+ youth organisations across the globe to be using our online tools and support packages to track and evaluate their own soft outcomes.
• 500 young people to have taken part in our intensive programmes and workshops, developing the confidence and connections needed to pursue their optimal career.
• 66 unemployed young people to have undertaken six months’ paid training within Spark+Mettle, with 80% of them taking up full-time paid work by the end of the placement.
To celebrate our second birthday we have just launched our first major annual fundraising drive. We are looking to raise £50,000 in the next three months so that we can continue to grow our organisation and widen our impact. Our big vision? For everyone—but particularly the young and the marginalised—to feel more confident about the strengths and skills they have so that they can realise their aspirations, find meaningful work and flourish. With your help, we can make it happen.
Please go to mydonate.bt.com/charities/sparkmettle to donate in just a few clicks.