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CLA Makes an Investment in JA Kids!

Veteran volunteer Phillip Del Bello, Manager, Specialized Advisory Services at CliftonLarsonAllen LLP (CLA) has seen the impact of his volunteering efforts over the years.

“Each time I’ve volunteered at JA BizTown it’s been a fun experience with new students who are entering the program for the first time,” said Del Bello.

Year after year, Del Bello coordinates a group of CLA associates to join him to help empower JA students to thrive in their businesses at JA BizTown. Recently, Phil and 14 of his colleagues assisted Tunbridge Public Charter School students on their JA BizTown visit day.

“It’s great to see the students’ excitement around this program and their engagement toward their tasks and responsibilities as an employee and citizen,” added Del Bello. “They are truly invested in their work and take it very seriously.”

For some Tunbridge students the focus was on their internal bookkeeping where others were more concerned about their personal finances.

“I learned that businesses have a lot of bills to pay. It was really hard to pay off the loan,” said a Tunbridge student.

“My favorite part of JA BizTown was using the money I earned to purchase items around town,” said another Tunbridge student.

Del Bello has seen a variety of students come through the experience – many who begin the day as shy, hesitant kids and end the day as confident, collaborative, financially responsible leaders. It’s one of the reasons Del Bello nominated Junior Achievement (JA) for the CLA Foundation grant. Ultimately, the CLA Foundation selected Junior Achievement as a grantee.

The CLA Foundation has granted more than $1.7 million to advance career opportunities in communities across the nation and Del Bello felt JA “matched perfectly” with the foundation’s mission to promote and support diverse individuals and organizations by connecting networks, advancing work readiness, and creating career opportunities.

“Not only is JA helping prepare kids for the future, but they are also building the entrepreneurial spirit at a young age,” said Del Bello. “I thought this directly aligns with the Foundation’s mission.”

Del Bello wasn’t the only CLA associate who thought highly of their volunteer experience. First-time volunteers and returners were also impressed.

“It’s great to see kids apply important financial concepts at a young age. By the end of the day, my students knew how to run a business, write and cash a check, and balance their checkbook,” said Garrett Brenk.

“I was surprised at how serious the kids took their jobs and really thought about how their roles impact the business,” said Kimberly MacKenzie.

For returning JA volunteer Ryan Fiore, the experience was a way to give back.

“I love that I’m able to see this come full circle. Having been a JA BizTown student, I had a volunteer who helped me back then and now, I get to pay that forward to a new group of students,” said Fiore. “I was a CFO and I think that definitely influenced me. I got a glimpse of what a financial professional would do, and it got me thinking about it at a younger age than most.”

While the experience had a profound impact on Fiore, it may have done the same for a Tunbridge student.

“I was the CFO of Zurich Insurance and I think this is something I could do in the future. We got really close to paying off our business loan and I really enjoyed a lot of the tasks I had today,” said a Tunbridge student.

On behalf of JA, we’d like to especially thank our volunteer extraordinaire Phillip Del Bello, the entire team at CLA and the CLA Foundation for their generous support of JA kids!

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