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Success Story

How Aspire Public Schools Grew Their Career-Readiness Programming Across 3 Cities

Aspire Public Schools' Expanded Learning Team partnered with Work ED to rapidly scale their afterschool programming across their charter schools in California.

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Success in Numbers


student capacity created for afterschool programming


student enrolment growth


Work ED staff retention

The Challenge

A rapid expansion of enrichment programs to include more impactful career-readiness opportunities to address learning loss.

  • Create programs that have the ability to attract, impact, and retain parents and students.

  • Programs that meet ELO-P criteria to have funding fully covered.

  • Find a resource-rich partner that would make program kickoff and operations smooth.

The Solution

  • Career discovery programs that are actually fun—and informative

    The Aspire team was able to create their own custom programming from Work ED's wide range of career-discovery programs.

  • A turnkey solution that was ready to grow and scale

    The Aspire team was able to quickly start a small pilot program with minimum lead time, and from there expand the program rapidly across 3 cities.

  • Programs designed to be fully funded

    Aspire knew that Work ED programs are designed to meet ELO-P criteria, so there were no barriers to unlocking ELO-P funding to fully cover programming.

How Aspire achieved their goals with Work ED

Started by one of the co-founders of Netflix, Aspire Public Schools has, since 1998, had the aim of creating more college and career-readiness focused Charter Schools in low-income, urban neighborhoods across California. Aspire Public Schools now encompasses 36 schools over 3 main locations: The Bay Area, Central Valley, and Los Angeles, serving over 15,000 students. 

Growth Mindset, integrity, equity. Values that Aspire and Work ED share.

As well as college-preparedness and career-readiness, Aspire aims to provide equitable opportunities for its students, and to break barriers in neighborhoods with underserved populations.

However, the Coronavirus pandemic and resulting lockdowns left students across America suffering the effects of learning loss—and research has shown that this impact was worse in areas and populations that were already behind before the pandemic. 

Thankfully, California is one of the best-funded states for education, and leads the way in extended learning funding through its Expanded Learning Opportunities Program (ELO-P).

But Aspire’s Expanded Learning Team wanted to use those funds in a way that stayed true to their values; to provide opportunities to students to make up for learning loss in a way that helped develop their college or career readiness, and that provided equitable access and support within their student community.

The team wanted an agile company that could quickly fill the gaps in the career-readiness offering of their enrichment programs. Staffing and logistics would have been an extra strain at a time when educators everywhere were struggling after the pandemic.

Work ED seemed like an ideal solution: a fully-staffed suite of programs targeting modern career-readiness skills, with a focus on student equity and social-emotional development.

Read our guide to social emotional development

Aspire students learning modern workplace skills in one of the Work ED programs. Copyright Work ED.

"Before Work ED, [there] was [a] lack of staff and lack of support for the middle school kids [in after school]."

Andrei Stvistal, After School Manager, Capitol Heights Academy, Aspire Public Schools

As Work ED was a new partner for Aspire, the team decided to test the waters and let Work ED prove their claims by running a small pilot program across 3 schools. Work ED responded quickly, meeting the unique needs of Aspire’s population and delivering programs that students loved, run by staff who let the students be themselves.

It was a win.

Work ED staff create an environment of psychological safety where students feel safe to express themselves and learn their own way. Copyright, Work ED.

"What made me want to continue with Work ED was the relationship and bond I built with the staff."

Andrei Stvistal, After School Manager, Capitol Heights Academy, Aspire Public Schools

So the team decided to test Work ED’s promise to scale customized programs, and engaged Work ED to expand their programs across 11 schools across 3 regions.

It was a huge jump in scale and there was a lead time of only 2 months. Would Work ED be able to expand so quickly while maintaining the same level of impact and culture?

They did. Another win.

Aspire students gave Work ED staff and programs the thumbs up. Copyright Work ED.

The team realized that Work ED can expand so rapidly where required due to their core culture and mission, which meant that when Aspire’s demand increased, Work ED were able to rapidly deploy and hire staff on the ground, using a proven hiring and training method that ensured only staff with the right drive and mentality to support students and deliver memorable experiences were brought into the fold.

The result? Students enjoying programs and gaining life-changing soft skills across Central Valley and the Bay Area charter schools.

The parents noticed the difference in their students, too. And, as anyone involved in charter schools knows, parents that opt for charter schools often do so because they expect a high quality experience for their child that will help propel them towards college or a promising career.

Aspire students working in teams under the careful guidance of Work ED staff. Copyright, Work ED.

The Aspire team also benefitted from Work ED’s Teaching Assistant Internship program—where high schoolers can gain paid work experience while mentoring the younger members of their community, providing community growth potential. 

The team were particularly impressed by Work ED’s ability to adapt to challenging situations.

One newer school was particularly challenging for student behavior. Work ED was able to pivot and deploy its most experienced staff to that site, who were able to work closely with site staff to develop a unique plan (that included adding “hazard pay” for the on-site Work ED staff” as an added incentive to continue working patiently and attentively with the students). Over time, the collaboration and dedication of school-site and Work ED staff paid off. Students felt that the Work ED staff were treating them as individuals, and they experienced the power of collaboration and support. Work ED’s weekly internal report system showed a gradual reduction in reported issues, and an increase in student performance.

Thanks to Work ED’s rapid scalable approach and demonstrated ability to adapt to challenges, the Expanded Learning Team delivered on their goals of adding impactful career-readiness programs to their roster, with the relationship set to continue in the 2023-24 school year.

Work ED staff helped Aspire students discover who they wanted to be, and gave them the encouragement to achieve it. Copyright Work ED.


“My son’s been very interested in [video games] and I believe that this is a springboard for him going into that field of expertise.”


“The Work ED program is really good, it’s a way for your child to learn something new, something different. We enjoyed it and we’re hoping you guys come back again so he can do it again next year!”


“This program was so great, I loved it, all the teachers were so nice!”


“We were having fun the whole time while still working!”


“It was super fun! After I joined, I feel like I know more about game designing.”


“I would tell [my friends] that it was really fun and that they missed out!”


“Overall, the Work ED program is a unique place, and it taught me a lot … I would recommend it if you want to be a video game developer when you grow up.”


Aspire Afterschool Programs Launched

Video Game Design

Join a newly formed Game Design Studio with your fellow classmates as you work together to create your studios’ first video game project! Your team will be tasked with coming up with the initial concept for your game, building out the prototype, and presenting it to potential investors to see your creativity take flight. Take up a role in the studio as a designer, programmer, or project manager to help contribute to the final video game concept launch! This real-life simulation with industry will teach you what it’s really like to work in game development. Learn about your passions and talent through this exciting evolution! 


Students work on creating their own video game concept in teams throughout the program, defining the important elements which make a finished game such as level design, character creation, and world building. Students will need to identify who their target audience is by following our Game Design Framework and through this fun evolution pitch their game concepts to “investors” who give them constructive feedback on their ideas.

Skills & Knowledge:

From the nuances of selling their finished product to the complexities of code that bring them to life, students will get an under-the-hood look at how their favorite games are produced. By taking a look at every step of the process from brainstorming their concept to releasing it on the market, students will understand what it takes to build an intriguing game for the world to play. Additionally, students get to learn about themselves through the axis of creative and technical skills that video game creation provides, which builds a strong foundation for future career exploration.


Video is everywhere these days, and there are many tools that make video editing easier—but what makes a good video stand out?

Learn how to think through the video editing process so that you can make your idea come to life in the best way—and get it in front of the right audience for views and likes, or even the big screen.


Throughout the week students will be working with an easy to understand, web-based video editing software that gives them the opportunity to craft their own videos using stock footage. Using their own personal interests to fuel them, students are able to create a clip that could be used for promotional purposes or even as an addition to their portfolio. Students also get to receive feedback from their peers on the final presentation.

Skills & Knowledge

While social media has put a video editor in the hands of everyone with a smartphone, being able to understand the fundamentals of what makes a good edit will give students the skills and knowledge to create even better videos in the future. They will know how to source footage, edit it to show exactly what they want, and polish the entire project before showcasing it to an audience.

Graphic Design

From movie and concert posters to logos and flyers, Graphic Design is almost everywhere you look. Learn how to apply color theory, typography, and other creative concepts as you create your own flashy designs! The difference between good and poor design choices can make or break your event and product brand which could turn people away completely. This is more than just an art class as students take a critical look at the nuances of design and make decisions that influence how others interpret their product.


Each day students will work with the approachable and easy to use software Canva. After getting a chance to practice with the program their final project culminates with an open-ended design project that allows them to put their skills to the test. By creating a movie poster, promotional flier for an event, or even a business logo, students can be confident in their design skills and share their creations with the class.

Skills & Knowledge:

By focusing on concepts like color theory, typography, and layout principles, students will be able to develop the skills and knowledge to design anything they can put their minds to. This module also gives students an opportunity to view creations with a critical eye to break down each piece and understand the choices that go into crafting complex designs.


Come together with your fellow students to develop your own startup business and first product idea! See what's made other companies successful like Nike, Adidas, Instagram and Tik Tok and use your team's creativity to develop your first idea. After learning how to identify your customer and validate their problems it's onto the fun part, creating a solution! Creating a great product is just as important as finding customers to buy it. How will you sell your product to your customer? How will it solve the customer’s problem? What new value will you create for your customer? How do you compare to the competitors? Learn from real companies’ successes and failures while creating solutions for customers, just like you will with your startup team. This real-life simulation will teach you the realities of working in the business world and the challenges you would face everyday.


Students are placed into teams to form their first company and first product or service they build around a societal problem or need. Students will identify why the product matters to their customer and how it is solving their problem. Through the given industry framework students will build out the product design, marketing pieces, pricing, and overall their team “pitch” to investors seeking to support their company's big new launch!

Skills & Knowledge:

Students will learn a scoped down and simplified version of the lean methodology: picking a problem, identifying who has this problem and who would buy a potential solution. Ideating a solution and how to gather information on whether people like your solution enough to buy.  Students need to think critically beyond just a tagline.

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