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This research confirms the optimism educators feel for this generation and expands their understanding of attitudes most prevalent among the nation’s 15-year-olds.

It shows:

• Most teens have deep talents, interests, and passions (what we call “sparks”).

They are eager to use these strengths to make a difference in areas that matter to them.

• However, many don’t have the kinds of relationships and opportunities they need to help them tap their spark during this important time in life when they are on the cusp of young adulthood.

• When they are surrounded by people and places that nurture their sparks, they’re much more likely to be engaged in school and in life, and to contribute to society in meaningful ways.

(July 15, 2009,