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GP CareerSpark 2023: Empowering Central Illinois Students with In-Demand Career Exploration


a student uses tools to practice the job of a lineman

Image caption: An 8th grade student tries out

Central Illinois recently witnessed a thrilling learning experience that brought our community together, igniting the passions and ambitions of our youth. GP CareerSpark, which unfolded with excitement last week, was nothing short of a transformative adventure in career exploration.

During this exhilarating learning experience, nearly 4,000 8th grade students from 67 schools across the region embarked on their career exploration journey which began in the classroom. After exploring how their skills and interests align with potential careers, students attended the in-person experience at Peoria Civic Center where they didn't just learn about careers; they experienced them firsthand. Students tried their hands at identifying foliage, experienced the intricacies of tools used to practice surgery techniques, and even felt the excitement and accomplishment of production assembly.

This incredible adventure was fueled by Junior Achievement's comprehensive JA Inspire curriculum, ensuring that students gained not just knowledge but real-world skills, preparing them for the future. Collaboration was key, with volunteers from over 100 local employers representing various industries providing thrilling insights.

CareerSpark isn't a one-time event; it's an ongoing catalyst for change. It's about igniting curiosity, fostering dreams, and empowering Central Illinois youth to reach for the stars. In addition to the 8th grade experience, CareerSpark extends into 9-12 grades through CareerSpark You're Hired. This next step in career planning introduces young people to jobs, internships, and apprenticeships available right now in central Illinois through curriculum and a virtual hiring expo available 24/7.

The impact of CareerSpark on our students' lives and the community is nothing short of awe-inspiring. As we reflect on this year's learning experiences, we're grateful for the dedication of our volunteers and support from our sponsors including Caterpillar, the Office of the Illinois State Treasurer, Accenture, PNC, Union Pacific, Chase Bank, Commerce Bank, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Peoria County ROE #48, RLI, and Tazewell County Regional Office of Education #53.

For more information and to get involved in future adventures, please contact Junior Achievement at

Select a button below to see how you or your organization can get involved with Junior Achievement of Central Illinois, Inc..

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