SparkPath Annual Letter 2020

JP Michel

The future of work is changing. That truth has never been more apparent than this year. In the midst of the chaos, our team strived to find hope in a time of hopelessness. Here’s a look back at our year and how we aimed to keep empowering educators. 

The highlight: The resilience of educators 

The highlight of 2020 for SparkPath has been the resilience of educators. Through the pandemic, facing unprecedented uncertainty and new obstacles, you have preserved. 

You showed everyone that despite what is happening, it’s possible to make space for the crucial activities that help students discover that the world needs them. We recognize the tremendous efforts you’ve put forward during difficult times, and we are in awe of your ability to show up to do important work.  

 How SparkPath helped

The digital school/admin account dashboard

In 2020, we doubled down on our commitment to support educators. We created an Educator Guide, lesson plans and we improved our virtual Challenge mindset training.

We also invested significantly in improving our digital Challenge Cards. Thanks to your feedback, the online experience is now smoother for students. Further, administrators now have a Dashboard to help them keep track of student use, review the top Challenges they selected as a group and access individual student profiles. 

Over 9,000 students have used the digital Challenge Cards, and our goal is to increase that number to 25,000 in 2021. We know that every student who completes this activity has a chance to change their approach to their future, forever. Thank you for being the change makers that make this all possible!

The physical Challenge Cards continue to be a powerful tool for the in-person career experience. There are now over  22 000 decks of Challenge Cards in use around the world, and we would love to see a classroom set available in every school and postsecondary institution.


The Challenge Mindset: Helping Youth Find Purpose and Impact | JP Michel | TEDxKanata

Finally, our TEDx was a great addition to help new and existing educators teach the Challenge mindset. In a short, engaging format, sprinkled with humour, the TEDx serves as a great introduction to the Challenge mindset before someone uses the Challenge Cards. 

Our community

This year we held three webinars to train educators and connect our community.  In the first webinar, we discussed  the Challenge mindset  and delved deeper on the topic. Our second webinar explained the process to research companies, people, jobs and learning connected to your Challenges. Finally, in our last webinar, our community led the discussion. Please join our next webinar on February 4th at 4:00 PM EST to experience the Challenge mindset activity for yourself! Our past webinars include:

We would also like to acknowledge Melanie Buford (University of Minnesota) and Heather Nester, MHR (University of Cincinnati) who published an article about the Challenge mindset in the journal of the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Their team positively impacted 61 undergraduate students with the Challenge Cards. Additionally, they documented the impact of their approach and published their results for others to build on. It's because of leaders like Melanie and Heather that meaningful career exploration will continue to grow. Thank you for making a difference! Click on the link below to read the article. 

Buford, M., and Nester, H. “A Problem Solving Approach to Career Exploration: Using the Lens of Challenge”, National Association of Colleges and Employers Journal,  November 2020.

We also expanded the CM community when we presented at the following events: we presented: NCDA, Cannexus, NBDCA, MMF , OCDA, OSCA, OCDSB, ACTE and CPF.

As you might already know, the two main ways SparkPath has grown is through conferences and referrals. To all those who have shared the Challenge mindset and Challenge Cards with other educators, thank you! You are the fuel behind our movement. 

For those of you who would like to share the Challenge Cards with someone, please feel free to use our new referral program

Our team 

To better serve students and educators in 2021, we grew the SparkPath team. Emma Runzer-Boucher and Sally Adam have been instrumental in taking our company to the next level. 

Emma started part-time in November 2019 and grew into a full time position for the summer 2020. One of Emma’s takeaways from working at SparkPath is how she embodies the Challenge mindset. Originally, SparkPath was not hiring to bring someone on full time. However, she saw the challenge SparkPath was trying to solve and demonstrated how her skills can help solve it. Emma now works part-time on marketing and special projects, as she started her first semester of Law School at the University of Ottawa in the fall. 

Sally joined the team in early October. Before that, Sally completed her engineering degree and worked as director of Canada’s largest student-run entrepreneurship event, the Legacy Conference. This event gives young learners the tools they need to act on their passions. She’s brought over her leadership, event management and outreach skills to help SparkPath, Day-to-day, Sally works on community building, customer support and marketing. 

Finally, on a personal note, my family grew as well. My wife and I welcomed Raphaëlle to our family on December 18th. Her brother Nico was thrilled to meet her!

The year 2020 has certainly been memorable. To find a visual summary of our year, please take a look at our blog post: SparkPath in Pictures 2020. 

 SparkPath in 2021

Our goal in 2021 is to learn how to serve students and educators more deeply. As usual, we’ll be reaching out to interview educators about their issues, obstacles and goals to learn how we can help. 

Specifically, we will be looking for partner institutions to help us develop the next version of the digital Challenge Cards. In this next version, we hope to help students further explore their challenges, as well as make connections with relevant companies and labour market information.

We’re also planning on publishing the Challenge mindset book, which will share our methodology, success stories and practical steps. To join the waiting list for the book, please click here.


It’s always so powerful to take a look back in order to better prepare ourselves for the year ahead. We’re so lucky to have such a strong community like yourselves to support us through it all. Thank you!


SparkPath 2019 Annual Letter

SparkPath 2018 Annual Letter

Why an Annual Letter?

Most public companies issue an annual letter to shareholders. At their best, these letters represent an opportunity for the people entrusted to run the company to communicate with the people who own the company, the shareholders.

Stewards of companies have a legal duty to do what is in the best interest of shareholders. I feel a similar obligation to you. You trust me with something incredibly important: helping your students and kids create extraordinary lives.

I hope this letter is useful in understanding SparkPath's progress to date, as well as our path forward. 

Thank you to Farnam Street and Khan Academy for the inspiration to write this post.


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