About Spark Success

Students learning about fingerprinting

Many families say the primary goal for their child is a happy, meaningful life. An important part of that is a career they like, which is financially rewarding, suits their interests – and ideally – sparks their passion.

Stories of Success

There are many ways to a great future including some college, apprenticeships, internships, industry-recognized certificates, college degrees, on-the-job training—a whole range of ways to build a good career. And these options can be combined over time.

Spark Success is a campaign ignited by four West Michigan intermediate school districts (Allegan, Kent, Muskegon, and Ottawa) in partnership with the Doug & Maria DeVos Foundation to raise awareness of the multiple paths to successful careers and happy lives.

Frequently Asked Questions

Spark Success was designed to raise awareness of the many career pathways for students across the region and the resources we have available in West Michigan to help them prepare for those careers.

Parents say the primary goal for their children is a happy, meaningful life. An important part of that is a career they like, which is financially rewarding, suits their interests – and ideally – sparks their passion. The goal of Spark Success is to help parents understand the many paths students can take to a rewarding career.

The organizers of Spark Success recognize the value of all career pathways and the demand for skilled workers across a wide variety of emerging industries. Many successful careers get started with a single credential, like a certificate, apprenticeship or some college credits. Those can then be combined with additional training, certificates, college courses or a degree to support career advancement. Research shows that having a successful career today requires education and training beyond a high school diploma.

Spark Success was created to serve as a vehicle to raise awareness of the many incredible existing programs available in West Michigan through schools, employers and talent organizations. The initiative itself does not directly offer career exploration or academic programming. Career exploration activities are offered through local schools and online resources. Academic programs may be available through area schools, colleges and other post-secondary organizations. We have created a robust resource hub to assist in the journey. Visit our Resources Hub for links to some of these local resources.

Economists estimate that by 2028 West Michigan will gain more than 40,000 new high-wage, high-demand jobs. Most of these jobs do not require a bachelor’s degree but do require some kind of industry-recognized, post-secondary credential. Over the first half of 2021, an average of 49,000 jobs were posted online per month across West Michigan – more openings than qualified people to fill them! With this in mind, we need to raise awareness of the types of jobs available now and in the future, as well as the many paths available to a successful career.

We used to think a bachelor’s degree was the only way to a good future, but there are many ways. These can include some college, apprenticeships, internships, industry-recognized certificates, college degrees, on-the-job training—a whole range of ways to build a good career. And these options can be combined over time.

In West Michigan, we are well-positioned to help prepare students to pursue a variety of career options, whether through one of the many respected colleges and universities in the area or the region’s world-class certification and trade programs. West Michigan is home to more than a dozen colleges and universities, over 10 trade schools geared toward specific occupations, nine tech centers at area intermediate school districts, more than 200 accredited certificate programs, and hundreds of K-12 schools (public, private & parochial).

We encourage parents to have conversations with their children about career opportunities and support them in their pursuits.

Having a well-educated population builds a stronger workforce which will help attract economic development and future opportunities for our region. Increased economic development raises property values and offers access to new amenities and an enhanced quality of life.

We recommend speaking to your school district’s career readiness specialists and school counselors to learn about the local colleges, universities, and career tech programs available in your area, as well as career exploration opportunities through your district. This will give you a better understanding of the resources available to you and your child as you explore the appropriate pathway for their future success.

Spark Success was ignited by four West Michigan intermediate school districts (Allegan, Kent, Muskegon and Ottawa). The campaign is supported financially by the Doug & Maria DeVos Foundation.

Student engineering and assembling a propeller

The Spark


We’re here to help ignite students’ purpose. The mission of Spark Success is to raise awareness of the many career pathways for students across West Michigan. A spark of any size can quickly grow into a flame.

Opportunity

There is a growing need for students in a variety of in-demand, high-skill jobs—many of which do not require a bachelor’s degree but typically do require some kind of industry-recognized credential beyond high school.

Ignite Their Purpose

If you’re looking to learn more to support your child’s future success, you’ve come to the right place. To discover emerging career opportunities, use our contact form to get in touch with local experts. We also encourage you to continue the conversation with school counselors, area  tech centers and academic advisors.

Emerging career paths in Michigan include…

Degree:

Computer System Analysts

Elementary School Teachers

Mechanical Engineers

Registered Nurses

Non-Degree:

Electricians

Police & Sheriff Patrol Officers

Computer User Support Specialists

Industry Machinery Mechanics