2017 Business Plan Challenge: And the finalists are ...

The 8th Annual JA Business Plan Challenge drew nearly 50 student company entries this year. Six of those student companies were selected to compete for top honors and $10,000 in scholarship money on April 27 at RSM US LLP.

Prior to submitting their plans, students participated in the JA Be Entrepreneurial program in which they worked with their teachers and JA volunteers from the local business community to develop their business ideas. Students created a plan for producing, distributing and marketing their product. They also had to address social and ethical responsibilities and explain their personal management style and past business experience which gives them the ability to succeed as an entrepreneur.

The competition will include a live pitch session for the six finalists. Each company will have fifteen minutes to present their companies and have Q&A and feedback from the judges. To rise to the top, winners will have to make a strong case for how they plan to execute their business plan.

This year, one school had a great showing taking the the top 6. All six finalists are Hoover High School Finance Academy students. We are pleased to introduce you to the future entrepreneurs (in alphabetical order by company name):


Jordan Henderson

Brace  Buddy

Brace Buddy is a dual rod, carbon fiber kickstand that attaches to any standard post-op medical knee brace that every patient receives.




Haley Meredith & Jenny Chin-Lai

Dorm Design

Dorm Design is a web-based service that allows a user to go online and design their dorm room. They can work independently or invite their roommate to collaborate.




Alexia Wilson

Happy Keys

Happy Keys is a new type of portable keyboard that is fashioned in a text keyboard format that will be compatible with any computer/laptop with a USB port.





Zach Rodgers

Our Charge

Our Charge produces a cable protector that extends the life of charging cables. It also allows for a custom printed logo on the front face of the protector that gives companies and sports teams an outlet of advertising.




Trent Hamner


Street-Ad provides both a product and a service. They purchase traffic barrels via wholesale, sell the advertising space on these same barrels, and sell them directly to companies (with the ads on them) for a fraction of the price of regular barrels (without ads) of the same build quality.





Gigi McLendon


TENstudio is an independent game developer currently working on a puzzle RPG (role-playing game) under the working title The Bridge which features a female, Asian protagonist.


JA Business Plan Challenge Offers Sweet Rewards to High School Entrepreneurs in Birmingham

Six teams of students from local high schools competed for top honors in the seventh annual JA Business Plan Challenge on May 3, 2016 at RSM US LLP. Presented by Vulcan Value Partners, the JA Business Plan Challenge focuses on challenging high school students through interactive classroom activities to start an entrepreneurial venture.

Prior to the competition, the finalists participated in JA Be Entrepreneurial, a seven session volunteer-led program sponsored by the UPS Foundation which pairs teachers, mentors, and JA volunteers from the local business community with students to create business plans based on their unique product or service ideas.  Nearly 50 applications were submitted to this year’s JA Business Plan Challenge. Six teams were chosen to advance to the final round where they pitched their plans to a panel of judges. Participating students explained their plans for producing, distributing and marketing their product. They also addressed social and ethical responsibilities, and explained their personal management style and past business experience.

William Judy from Hoover High School took top honors with Twist-It, a cleaning tool for racing spikes. Judy, a cross country track athlete, was passionate about solving a problem that so many track athletes face: clogged up spikes affecting performance. 

Judy was joined at the JA Business Plan Challenge by the following finalists:

· Carlee Bennett and Emily Leonard from Hewitt-Trussville High School received the second-place award of $2,000 for ConnectPG, an app that allows parents to monitor their kids social media accounts.

· Akira Bell and Saniya Widerman from Huffman High School received the third-place award of $1,000 for their business Sugar & Spice, a home-based bakery that provides sculpted pop cakes made fresh to order.

· Spencer Hurst from Hoover High School, owner of Bamboo – a social media advertising service; Jarred Turnbow from Hewitt-Trussville High School, owner of Put It Down – a subscription based app that allows parents to disable their child’s texting capabilities while driving; and James Aguirre and Jarrett Anthony from Hoover High School, owners of Kreative Threads – a t-shirt business catering to individual designers, each received $500.

"The JA Business Plan Challenge shows how Junior Achievement is fostering the next generation of startup founders in the Greater Birmingham area - which is extremely important to our community and the burgeoning entrepreneurial opportunities of the area," said Richard Murray, President of Junior Achievement. "Programs like the Business Plan Challenge allow JA to work with schools and community leaders to promote entrepreneurship and the importance of new local economic opportunity to all generations."

2016 Judges:     

Matt Campbell, BBVA Compass & Tavern on 1st         

Isaac Cooper, Boundary Stone Financial, LLC

Chad Trull, Hospicelink     

Jewel Williams, Learning Little People

Lee Ann Petty, Regions Bank          

Dr. Anthony Hood, UAB Collat School of Business (Keynote Speaker)



Birmingham Banking Leaders to Judge Young Entrepreneurs in the 7th Annual JA Business Plan Challenge

Members of Birmingham's banking and financial community will come together to help judge a competition featuring some of the city's youngest entrepreneurs next week.

Matt Campbell of BBVA Compass, Isaac Cooper of Boundary Stone Financial, LLC, Lee Ann Petty of Regions Bank, Sunny Slaughter of Sunny Slaughter Consulting and Chad Trull of HospiceLink will make up the panel of judges for Junior Achievement's Business Plan Challenge on May 3, 2016 at RSM US LLP.

Finalists from six area high schools will be given 15 minutes to present their full business plans of the company they have created to the panel of judges. There is $8,000 in scholarship funds up for grabs.

The finalists are: Hoover High School - Spencer Hurst (Bamboo), William Judy (Twist-It), and the team of James Aguirre and Jarrett Anthony (Kreative Threads); Hewitt-Trussville High School - Jarred Turnbow (Put It Down), the team of Carlee Bennett and Emily Leonard (ConnectPG); Huffman High School - the team of Akira Bell and Saniya Widerman (Sugar & Spice).

"The Junior Board of JA of Alabama works diligently to raise funds in support of these future entrepreneurs," said Robbie Martin, chairperson of Junior Achievement's Junior Board. "Both JA and the business leaders that are involved in the competition have such an impact on the students, and we love seeing that."

From April 28 - May 2, the public can vote for the People's Choice winner on Facebook by liking the commercials each business has created, https://www.facebook.com/JAofAlabama/.

2016 JA Winter Bowling Classic - a HUGE Success!

The 2016 JA Winter Bowling Classic was a great success with 128 teams from 11 companies raising $187,516.  CONGRATULATIONS and THANK YOU to our top teams!

5th place Altec Industries

4th place Protective Life

3rd place Vulcan Materials

2nd place Golden Flake Snack Foods

1st place Regions Bank

All 11 participating companies not only met their fundraising goals, but through the hard work of fundraisers that ranged from a companywide yard sale to a mac and cheese cook off, these companies exceeded their fundraising goals.  Creative competition between teams and support from top leadership at each company ensured the success of this annual fundraising event. 

The JA Winter Bowling Classic concluded with a special recognition celebration at Avondale Brewery on April 14, 2016.  Top companies, teams and individuals were recognized with awards and trophies.  Individual bowlers also won prizes based on the funds they raised, which included an Amazon Echo, Apple TV, Talladega VIP weekend, Birmingham staycation with hotel, dinner and movie passes, an Avondale Brewery gift basket, and a multi-piece toolkit donated by Motion Industries. 

The annual JA Winter Bowling Classic and the recognition events are unique opportunities for companies and individuals to learn more about JA, to participate in fundraising to support JA’s programs, and to engage in fun team building activities.  We are thankful for the teams and companies that raised funds for JA and we look forward to bowling with you again next year!

To learn more about how your company can participate in the 2016 JA Summer Bowling Classic or the 2017 JA Winter Bowling Classic, please call Jennifer Holley at (205) 909-0337.  

The companies that participated in the JA Winter Bowling Classic are as follows: 

ALTEC Industries

America's First Federal Credit Union


Brasfield & Gorrie, LLC


Golden Flake Snacks

Motion Industries

Protective Life

Regions Bank 

Southern Nuclear

Vulcan Materials


Junior Achievement Announces Finalists for the Business Plan Challenge

The Finalists are in!

Junior Achievement of Alabama announces its finalists for the JA Business Plan Challenge presented by Vulcan Value Partners. The Business Plan Challenge is a scholarship competition that was created by Junior Achievement to offer young high school entrepreneurs additional feedback and guidance as they develop the business they created while participating in the JA Be Entrepreneurial program.

Six student companies were selected as finalists to compete in the Business Plan Challenge on Tuesday, April 14, 2015, at America’s First Federal Credit Union. The week prior to the event, the finalists will post commercials they have created for their business on the Junior Achievement of Alabama Facebook page for a public vote. The company with the most votes will receive the coveted People’s Choice Award.

The six student company finalists are from Hoover High School and Hewitt-Trussville High School. The competing companies are listed below (alphabetical order by company name). 


Company: BeYoutiful MUA

Owner: Lexi Dennis

Product: Makeup Application Service

School: Hoover High School

Teacher: Lisa Smith



Company: Gems in a Haystack

Owner: Carolina Munoz

Product: Hand-crafted jewelry

School: Hoover High School

Teacher: Lisa Smith


Company: Kountry Kitchen on Wheels

Owners: Callie Shields & Tyler Tolbert

Product: Meat & Three Food Truck

School: Hewitt-Trussville High School

Teacher: Alison Hollingsworth


Company: RE:claimed

Owner: Anna Lee Schneider

Product: Upcycled home décor

School: Hoover High School

Teacher: Lisa Smith


Company: Walley's Water Coolers

Owner: Stephen Walley

Product: Dual Liquid Water Cooler

School: Hoover High School

Teacher: Lisa Smith


Company: We Gotcha

Owners: Will McMurry & Jacob Rushing

Product: Delivery/Errand Service

School: Hewitt-Trussville High School

Teacher: Alison Hollingsworth



New "JA Company Program" Proves to be a Success for Inspiring the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

Junior Achievement USA and The Hartford Unveiled Digital Program that Integrates E-commerce,

Crowd-funding and Virtual Mentors into the JA Experience


Junior Achievement USA®, in partnership with The Hartford, unveiled its reimagined JA Company Program® this semester, to provide aspiring teen entrepreneurs with the skills and real-world experience to become the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. Now digitized, the updated JA Company Program included 13 new modular experiences as part of a blended-learning approach that offered groups of students the opportunity to understand the steps involved in launching their own businesses while learning the basics of entrepreneurship, financial literacy and business success.

The sessions contained interactive content, including vodcasts led by subject matter experts that explored concepts such as brainstorming a product or service.  Lessons also discussed the importance of conducting market research to refine the product or service to meet consumers’ evolving needs.

"The new JA Company Program gives students the opportunity to play a greater leadership role in the process with volunteers encouraging them to find their voice and spark the entrepreneurial spirit,” Richard Murray, President of Junior Achievement of Alabama. “They have the opportunity to apply concepts used by this generation’s entrepreneurs, such as e-commerce and crowd-funding.”

The 13-week program divides each session into two parts: “Company Ops” and “Deeper Dive.” Students report on progress and accomplish learning objectives during “Company Ops” and participate in a more robust learning experience, either individually or in groups, to challenge themselves to push further during “Deeper Dive.” Click here to see JA Company Program in action.

The revised JA Company Program is the result of a $1.5 million investment from The Hartford to support 100,000 students through Junior Achievement. The Hartford’s commitment supports its Communities with HART ongoing efforts to encourage the well-being of America's communities by enabling today's small businesses to grow and inspiring a new generation of small business leaders.

“The Hartford is proud to partner with Junior Achievement and serve as the title sponsor of its flagship JA Company Program,” said The Hartford's Chief Executive Officer Christopher J. Swift. “We encourage the students of today to become the successful entrepreneurs of tomorrow, a commitment that grows out of our passion for helping small businesses prevail.”

JA Company Program is Junior Achievement’s longest running program, beginning in 1919 with the founding of the organization. Today, nearly half a million students globally flex their entrepreneurial spirit each year with JA Company Program.

To learn more about JA Company Program and inquire about how to bring it to local schools, visit www.ja.org.


About The Hartford

With more than 200 years of expertise, The Hartford (NYSE: HIG) is a leader in property and casualty insurance, group benefits and mutual funds. The company is widely recognized for its service excellence, sustainability practices, trust and integrity. More information on the company and its financial performance is available at www.thehartford.com. Join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheHartford. Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TheHartford.

Birmingham-Area Teens Learn Workforce Skills through AT&T Aspire Mentoring Academy

Students are shown here enjoying listening to AT&T Coordinator, Lori Varnedoe. Varnedoe shared her personal story of success and why AT&T has committed to helping students.

Students are shown here listening to AT&T Coordinator, Lori Varnedoe. Varnedoe shared her personal story of success and why AT&T has committed to helping students discover their path to success. 

Birmingham, AL – Investing time to help teens develop skills for future success can be a gift that lasts a lifetime. That’s why AT&T has continued its partnership with Junior Achievement of Greater Birmingham to mentor 500 Birmingham Area students during the 2014-15 school year. A total of 51 Junior Achievement Areas across the United States have been invited to participate in Aspire Mentoring Academy as part of the national collaboration.


Today, students from Wenonah High School’s Academy of Hospitality & Tourism attended AT&T Aspire Mentoring Academy at the AT&T Alabama Operations Center campus on Highway 280. During this regular business workday, employees shared life experiences and career advice through project-based activities, completed problem-solving activities in a group setting, and provided resources to students for career planning.  “I believe AT&T’s partnership with Junior Achievement gives employees an opportunity to give back and help young people in Birmingham prepare for their future,” said Chrys Gibbs, AT&T Network Force Load Analyst. “By bringing students directly into the workplace, the JA Job Shadow experience shows them how education and training translate to success on the job.”


Providing young people with real-world learning experiences can be key to improving U.S. high school graduation rates.  More than 1 million students each year—1 in every 4—do not graduate on time with their class. LaToya Garrett, Senior Program Manager for Junior Achievement of Greater Birmingham, noted, "Junior Achievement is working to improve high school graduation rates by helping students connect the dots from the classroom to the real-world and better understand the skills they need to be successful not only in the classroom but in life. We are honored to work with wonderful educators and collaborate with AT&T to address this critical social and economic issue."


"We are excited to be teaming up with Junior Achievement, a leader in the field of student mentoring, as we mobilize our employees to provide 1 million hours of mentoring," said Janiece Evans-Page, Assistant Vice President – Community Engagement at AT&T. "This is just the beginning of a program that will help us put the skills, knowledge and passion of our employees to work in our communities."


To learn more about Aspire Mentoring Academy visit www.att.com/aspirementoring.



About Community Engagement at AT&T

Aspire Mentoring Academy is the key community engagement program of AT&T's $350 million investment in education, which is among the most significant U.S. corporate education initiatives. The program, which has impacted over 1 million students in all 50 states since its initial launch in 2008, drives innovation in education through proven programs that address the high school dropout crisis and taps into the power of personal connections involving many of AT&T’s approximately 240,000 employees.  Through the program, the company's employees are engaging in their communities with a goal to provide 1 million hours of mentoring to students.


At AT&T, Community Engagement means engaging our employees to build strong, connected, and thriving communities where we live and do business.  Employees are focused on three key issues: improving educational outcomes, building sustainable communities and promoting the responsible use of technology.  In 2011, employees and retirees donated 6 million hours of time to community outreach activities and pledged more than $33 million for charities of their choice through the United Way/Employee Giving campaign.  Employees also committed to more than 21,000 sustainable choices through Do One Thing (DOT), which invites employees to make small, everyday choices that add up to a big positive impact for themselves, the community and/or the company.


1 Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic, Annual Update 2012, Alliance for Excellent Education, America's Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises, and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University (March 19, 2012)

Junior Achievement Volunteers Recognized for Outstanding Service

On Thursday, June 12th, Junior Achievement of Greater Birmingham held its annual Volunteer Recognition Luncheon celebrating the partnership between area schools and businesses. In addition, JA also recognized its dedicated volunteers and teachers for outstanding service.  Many thanks to Regions Financial for hosting and donating their beautiful Executive Dining Room with its sweeping view of Birmingham and fabulous food.


The following individuals received “Above and Beyond” awards:

Teacher of the Year

Alison Hollingsworth, Hewitt-Trussville High School

JA Volunteer of the Year

Barbara Blackburn, Regions Financial

Rising Star

Hannah Kinderknect, Talladega Superspeedway

Elementary School Volunteer of the Year

Charlie & Jena Shell, Vestavia Hills Elementary East (Parent Coordinators)

Middle School Volunteer of the Year

Ty Harrington, Golden Flake Snack Foods

High School Volunteer of the Year

Melissa Reeves & Jamie Witte, eCo Credit Union


Two JA students were recognized for essay-based scholarships:

Peter Bolvig/BE&K Inc Leadership Award Winner

Caroline Amerson, Hoover High School

Gordon R. Lineberry Scholarship Winner

Denice Hernandez, Ashville High School


The following volunteers were recognized for their many years of service to the young people of Birmingham:

5 Years of Service

Michelle Blackwood, America’s First Federal Credit Union

Seth Cannon, Regions Financial

John Collier, Regions Financial

Janet Crittenden, Regions Financial

Laura Edwards, Parent Volunteer-Gwin Elementary School

Chris Eickholt, Parent Volunteer-Vestavia East

Shefali Patel, Regions Financial

Erica Pickett, Regions Financial

Justin Poole, PwC

Ashley Senn, Parent Volunteer-Vestavia Central

LaToya Struggs, Regions Financial

Chalane Tucker, Parent Volunteer-Creekview Elementary School

Chris Watson, Regions Financial

Jennefer Whisenhunt, Southern Natural Gas

Wendy Wood, Regions Financial


10 Years of Service

Mamie Clark, Regions Financial

Bertha Hall, Golden Flake Snack Foods

Wendy Hopping, State Farm

Deborah Moreland, Golden Flake Snack Foods

Brenda Williams, State Farm


15 Years of Service

Rick Rudden, AT&T

Randy Walker, AT&T

Showing 8 results.
Items per Page 20
of 1