Building Career Readiness and STEM Skills for Today’s Students

Too few young people - especially those from underrepresented populations – are engaged in the high-skills coursework essential to the pursuit of high-opportunity careers.  Most young people do not understand the connection between coursework and on-the-job success.  They remain unaware of the nation’s vast array of personally rewarding and economically viable careers.

We work with employers and educators to integrate course objectives with on-the-job tasks from high-opportunity careers. We do this through short, structured experiences known as career challenges or case studies, a format used in graduate school which is migrating to younger audiences. Career challenges are produced using two programs that are free to schools  Spark 101 Interactive STEM Videos are led by teachers in the classroom, while 114th Professional Challenges are led by employee volunteers in the workplace, the classroom, or online.

Spark 101 Interactive STEM Videos—Free to Schools
Increase student engagement with STEM career challenges


Spark 101 STEM Skills Videos equip professional educators to integrate course objectives with on-the-job tasks from high-opportunity careers.  These ten-minute interactive videos, co-developed with employers, are the only free resource of their kind. Students apply academic skills to analyze, evaluate, create, and communicate their solutions to the featured employer challenges. Educators are supported with usage guides and customizable lesson plans.  An independent evaluation has pointed to a significant impact on student STEM engagement. See our complete video library at

Check out this sample video challenge:

  Toyota Engineering / Math / Technology Video:    Assessing Robotic Precision on the Press Line

Toyota Engineering / Math / Technology Video:
Assessing Robotic Precision on the Press Line

Employers—Engage more students in high-opportunity careers

We work with you to develop on-the-job challenges drawn from your high-opportunity careers. We produce these challenges as a Spark 101 STEM Skills Video or as a set of presentation resources for your volunteers. Challenges clarify the societal value of careers in your field and provide information about the education and skills it takes to succeed in these roles.  The research-based format makes the work you do relatable and motivational to students, inspiring them to pursue more challenging coursework.  You address skill gaps in your field while helping learners launch their identities as STEM professionals. 

“Our video challenges identify a scientific problem, show how scientists tackle it, and expose students to the careers around it, in an engaging and interesting way.”
—Stuart Ravnik, Assistant Dean, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas
Learn more
Video: “Develop a Video Challenge. Inspire Thousands.”
PDF: Spark 101 Employer Brochure

Teachers—Engage students in STEM coursework

Our free interactive videos motivate students to persist in STEM coursework by integrating academics with on-the-job tasks from real employers. Spark 101 STEM Skills Videos - a deeper learning resource - provide teachers of academic or technical courses with performance tasks that feature both career relevancy academic rigor.

“I like that they explain how to solve problems, give you real problems to solve, and talk to you about their job in STEM and why it matters.”
—11th Grade Girl, Dallas, Texas

114th Professional Challenges
Employee volunteers shape students’ career interests with real workplace scenarios


114th Professional Challenges equip employee volunteers to shape students’ career interests with real workplace scenarios.  Live challenges provide hands-on coaching and mentoring as an alternative to traditional presentations and internships. Challenges feature on-the-job tasks drawn from high-opportunity careers and are offered in 4- and 20-hour formats.  Volunteers are supported by customized, ready-to-use materials for use in the workplace, in the classroom, or online. Early findings indicate a high level of student engagement and increased interest in the profiled careers.

Sample challenge
Sodexo: “Designing a 21st Century High School”
A diverse group of high school students joined a facilities management team working on high school classroom redesign. Students were tasked to develop a proposal that was achievable over summer break, supported 21st century learning, was sustainable for more than five years, and met budget limitations.

“I felt like I was part of a company solving a real problem.” 
—10th Grade Student, Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland


Employers—Ensure successful volunteer efforts with our turnkey resources

We design and produce on-the-job scenarios from your high-opportunity careers as the basis of your professional challenge, your Spark 101 STEM Skills Video, or both. Your volunteers then make use of the turnkey resources in community programs and events.   As a result, you can be confident that your community outreach efforts meet your goals for employee engagement and student impact. Our challenges are one of the few employee volunteer resources to embed research-based practices and provide employee satisfaction and student impact data.
“I was amazed by how engaged the students were. Above and beyond. Made my job very easy.”
—Employee Volunteer
Learn more
PDF: Professional Challenges Employer Brochure

Accelerated Impact
Economic and regional workforce development initiatives

Accelerated Impact helps communities engage educators and employers to motivate their young people to pursue high-skills coursework tied to regionally relevant high-opportunity careers.  Serving as a specialized intermediary, the program helps educators, employers, and other aligned nonprofit partners to strengthen outcomes in motivation, course enrollment, post-secondary credentials, and employment.