JA In The News | Junior Achievement of Central Ohio

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Junior Achievement of Central Ohio Announces Inaugural Scholarship Program

Junior Achievement of Central Ohio (JA) is excited to launch our inaugural scholarship program! We will award a $2,500 scholarship to two graduating high school seniors in the 2020/2021 school year who have plans to attend an institute of higher learning or technical training. These scholarships are funded in part by and are given in honor of the Laureates of Junior Achievement’s Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame.Stock graduation photo
JA inducts two community and/or business leaders into the Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame each year. This year’s scholarship will be awarded on behalf of 2020’s Laureates: Sandy Doyle-Ahern, President, EMH&T and Dr. David T. Harrison, President, Columbus State Community College.
Students can apply through the online scholarship application or download, fill out, print and mail the fillable PDF application to ATTN: JA Scholarship Application, Junior Achievement of Central Ohio, 68 E. 2nd Ave., Columbus, OH 43201. Applications are due online or at the office by March 31, 2021 at 4 pm.
Graduating 12th grade students in the 2020/2021 school year in the following Ohio counties who have participated in at least one Junior Achievement (JA) program during their K-12 education are invited to apply: Adams, Athens, Belmont, Delaware, Fairfield, Fayette, Franklin, Gallia, Guernsey, Harrison, Hocking, Jackson, Jefferson, Licking, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Pickaway, Pike, Ross, Vinton, and Washington counties.
Awardees will have a demonstrated enthusiasm for work readiness, entrepreneurship or a specific career pathway,especially as a result of participation through a Junior Achievement program, and demonstrated ability to succeed in their desired career path and/or education track.
Contact JA at jaco@jacols.org with questions. 

"We have to make learning applicable not just theoretical. We have to engage them in finding the solutions to their own problems in a fun way."

Junior Achievement of Central Ohio's 2020 Educator of the Year is Taraja Shephard Allen, a school counselor in Columbus City Schools (CCS). Taraja is passionate about what she does, because she loves having "an opportunity to help my students become the best versions of themselves." Taraja Shephard Allen

Taraja, please introduce yourself. Why are you passionate about the work you do?

My name is Taraja Shephard Allen. This is my ninth year as a school counselor in Columbus City Schools. I love being a school counselor because I have an opportunity to help my students become the best versions of themselves. I love working in CCS because I believe in being an integral part of my community. I am a proud CCS graduate from Linden McKinley High School. I obtained my undergraduate degrees from Ohio University and my Master’s in School Counseling from the University of Dayton.

Can you explain your school’s relationship with Junior Achievement of Central Ohio?

When I was at Linden STEM Academy as an elementary counselor, I had the pleasure of helping students with participating in a JA BizTown event. It was so amazing seeing students participate in a project-based learning format to re-create a functioning small town where they role/played citizens; working at jobs, running companies, exchange goods, services, ideas and even producing a newspaper.

I was so thrilled when I became a middle school counselor to know that my students would be able to continue partnering with local business leaders through Junior Achievement. The program was expanded to weekly project-based learning in the classroom or my students had opportunities to collaborate with their peers and have a more in-depth interaction with the volunteer mentors to learn about financial literacy, entrepreneurship and the soft skills needed to be successful in the world of work.

In the last few years we became more creative with our partnership between our teachers, students and business leaders. We began to have a JA in a Day. It was highly successful because we were able to host over 60 volunteers from Chase Bank to run a variety of workshops with our students similar to “shark tank” where they start the day identifying a common need in our society and ended the day with business plan and live pitch to their classmates. It’s pretty serious; awards were given out. Students loved having an opportunity to really see their own ideas manifest from concept to business venture, in just a single day. This model was very successful to us we maximized our time in one day versus one period of a day a week for several weeks. We were able to better sustain the commitment from our students, teachers and our volunteers by just asking for 1 full day. Chase returned for a second year as this truncated timetable was a great model for their busy staff of volunteers too.

Why do you continue to partner with Junior Achievement?

As a school counselor, I’m always looking for ways to help my students explore various career pathways. Junior Achievement brings the business community to our classrooms. We introduce them to growing careers by letting them meet people in the field, sharing their experiences and giving their perspective and real life tips on what they can to do now to prepare for the future. They learn practical life skills such as how to earn, save and invest money as a teenager.

What do you think is the most important thing that a school can provide to a student to help them succeed?

Practical knowledge is key. Most students want to know how does what they learning apply to their current situation. Why is learning this important? We have to make learning applicable not just theoretical. We have to engage them in finding the solutions to their own problems in a fun way. That seek and find challenge make them curious and keep them motivated into becoming lifelong learners.

What do you see as current obstacles for young people?

For many of my students, there are less opportunities to be exposed to and explore a variety of career pathways. They only see traditional people working in traditional roles. They need to see a variety of people working in careers that they thought were off limits to them and be prepared for ones that don’t exist yet. They need a safe space and a chance to follow various career pathways, test out different professional identities; so they can find one that fits and is worth pursuing even when it’s tough and they feel like they want to give up.

Does JA help students overcome these obstacles at all?
JA always brings great volunteers into our buildings who are well trained and are not shy around our students. They are experienced and knowledgeable in their fields. They are ready to answer the tough questions and often break some stereotypes. They help push our students to think outside the box and practice being a business savvy version of themselves.  

"Participating in Junior Achievement is a great way to refocus on what matters most, helping young people think of and prepare for their future."

For all the work they do in the classroom and at JA BizTown, JPMorgan Chase is Junior Achievement of Central Ohio's 2020 Volunteer of the Year. In the 2019/2020 school year, nearly 200 JPMorgan Chase teammates volunteered with JA, impacting more than 2,000 central Ohio students. We've asked them to share what volunteering with Junior Achievement means to them. JPMorgan Chase at Sherwood Middle School

What is JPMC's stance on giving back to the community & volunteering?
At JPMorgan Chase, we invest in our customers, employees and communities around the world to break down barriers to opportunity and create an economy that works for more people. Right now,  we are facing one of the greatest health threats of a generation, one that is impacting communities and citizens around the world. More than ever, our communities need support and resources. We not only devote financial resources, but leverage our greatest strength—our employees—to ensure those resources make a real impact on people’s lives. Each year, our employees volunteer their time and expertise to help nonprofit organizations and people in underserved neighborhoods. Employees bring forward organizations or initiatives that they’ve seen make an impact, and many of our most successful volunteer efforts begin as a grass-roots initiative. We have an incredibly active Volunteer Leadership Group that helps organize volunteer events – big and small—across Central Ohio. Our employees are truly the driving force.
What is JPMorgan Chase’s relationship with Junior Achievement of Central Ohio?
JPMorgan Chase and Junior Achievement of Central Ohio have built a long relationship over 6 years. As a company, we’re incredibly focused on supporting the workforce of the future and helping build an economy that works for more people. We look for organizations that are working to advance these efforts and Junior Achievement is a fantastic example of this work in action. We’re proud to work with them to help prepare young people for a brighter tomorrow. Our employees bring their passion and expertise to the classrooms and JA programs to make a real impact in the lives of students and families across our region. We’re thrilled to work with Junior Achievement of Central Ohio, and look forward to a continued partnership for years to come.
What does volunteering mean to JPMorgan Chase team members?
Volunteering with JA was an great experience!  Watching the students work together to create innovative business ideas was the best part. It was really so awesome to see them brainstorm, discuss and eliminate ideas, and get excited about sharing them with us. –Suzanne Polcyn
Volunteering with JA was a chance to connect with children while helping them learn about economics and leadership.  It meant so much to me to represent Chase, volunteer with young people, and make some great relationships in the process. – John Cruise
The pleasure of getting the opportunity to volunteer with other excited volunteers in front of equally excited students for a fun-filled day of learning was an experience so precious that it makes me smile every time I think back on it. I look forward to a time when I can do it again.—Eric Singer
Volunteering with JA is an amazing experience. Watching the kids’ expressions after working out a solution to a problem is what says it all for me. – Dylan Kraner
Participating in Junior Achievement is a great way to refocus on what matters most,  helping young people think of and prepare for their future.  At the same time, it ignites your creative thinking as you encourage their self-discovery and growth. – Erik Merkau
It is very rewarding…. I wish it was available in the school I attended. – Michael Rice
A fun way to spend the day, sharing my knowledge, and interacting with bright young people. – Shoba Narayanan
JA is a great experience and gives you insight into how the next generation views their world. – Mary Patrick
It’s so fulfilling and fun to watch the kids achieve results from running their business while working together and having a blast! – Amy Anangono
The experience was very eye opening and humbling. I appreciate teachers even more for what they do on a daily basis. – Breanna Mcconahy
Rewarding and puts a smile on your face! – Nicolas Kratz
“Knowledge is power” Sir Francis Bacon—It was my pleasure to present the financial education sections of the JA program to middle school future professional women and men.  A very satisfying experience.   – Lucia Santos
Volunteering with JA was a very enjoyable experience, where I was able to connect with other peers at work and touch the lives of children by just being there for them that day.  Teaching in front of kids got me out of my comfort zone but I feel proud that I was able to give my time to serve in my community.  Being able to inspire just one child that day is an accomplishment. – Nicole Alexander
Volunteering with JA was so rewarding to help students expand their knowledge base.  They were active and genuinely engaged in the various subjects we presented.  As a first time volunteer, this experience has definitely motivated me to continue being a JA Volunteer. – David McDowell
It was such a privilege to volunteer, interact and educate the youth here in our home town through JA last year. Whether the impact was small or large, or even changed the path of just one student, I know that it was an amazing opportunity for growth and understanding not only for the students, but for myself as well. – Callie Frey
It’s a great experience. Having never heard of “JA Biztown” before, I was amazed at how well put together it all was. From the physically built “mini-businesses” to the instructors who worked there, everything was top-notch. JPM Chase & Co.’s involvement in this is just one small example of how they give back to the community on a daily basis. – David Eckert
Priceless satisfaction comes from giving one’s time for the benefit of others and that feeling is multiplied when children are the beneficiary. Leading student engagement was immensely rewarding and the structured JA program made it easy to participate without prior experience. – Corey Deye
Partnering with Junior Achievement was incredibly rewarding.  Our team loved giving back to the community in a meaningful way to inspire young minds with potential career paths.  We got to underscore our real life experiences in the work force to help guide middle school aged kids in underserved communities.  I wish a business professional had visited me when I was that age to tell me the “real deal.” – Michelle Arencivia
Volunteering with JA was a wonderful experience. I enjoyed teaching and setting an example to our future leaders. I would love to volunteer for JA every year. – Candice Griffin
I would describe my experience with JA volunteering in one word – rewarding. It’s an amazing opportunity to give back and help the community, particularly underserved communities.  – Brian Stapleton
Seeing the interest on the kids’ faces and how engaged they all were, it makes you realize how this program fills a need across the partnering schools and how rewarding it is to be a small piece of the larger puzzle. – Adam Myhal
From JPMorgan Chase's perspective, what does JA mean to central Ohio's students?
For students, JA offers a break in their everyday routine and an opportunity to think creatively. My first JA volunteer experience was spending the day with a class of fourth graders to teach them about financial responsibility. I was a bit nervous because I wasn’t sure how receptive the class would be to the material on the subject. From the moment we entered the classroom, the students were excited to see that today would be different from their regular classroom experience and were ready to participate in every activity. We tried to incorporate ways for them to get up and move around the classroom as well as work in small groups together to encourage their engagement. It was a truly great experience to see the kids working together to plan a budget or learn about different career paths, and having fun while doing so.
JA also inspires students to think about their future schooling, careers, and even life goals. We played a game similar to “The Game of Life” with the students, which sparked conversations about college and trade school, career trajectory, family life, and more. Many of the students’ plans kept changing over the course of the day as we talked about every opportunity available to them and how it relates back to what they are currently learning in school. A fellow JPMC employee and JA volunteer’s daughters were excited to announce they would like to be “a veterinarian” and “a teacher, maybe I’ll teach about Junior Achievement” after their day with JA. While these plans may continue to change, I think having these conversations at a young age helps motivate the students in their schoolwork and inspires them to achieve great things. JA means a bright and successful future for students and JPMC is proud to be a part of it through this partnership.

Junior Achievement Announced 2020 Educator and Volunteer of the Year Awards

Junior Achievement of Central Ohio (JA) today announced its annual Educator and Volunteer of the Year awards in recognition for outstanding commitment to the central Ohio community and impact on the region’s K-12 student population. This year, JA will honor Taraja Shephard Allen, School Counselor, Columbus City Schools, as the 2020 Educator of the Year and JPMorgan Chase as the 2020 Volunteer of the Year. The organization will celebrate both honorees as part of the annual Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame event virtually on November 18.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, JA has pivoted to virtual offerings to continue their work of empowering students to own their future through their work-readiness, financial literacy, and career-preparation K-12 programs. JA began piloting virtual programs with local educational partners, including Gahanna Lincoln High School, this spring and has now worked to expand and enhance offerings to include interactive, educational virtual experiences for all students throughout its central Ohio network.

“JA is excited to re-engage students and volunteers in the classroom when it’s safe, but we also love that we are no longer constrained by space and distance,” said Mike Davis, President, JA of Central Ohio. “We are poised to continue meeting students’ needs whether in school or out of the classroom.”

Educators and volunteers are pivotal to the work of Junior Achievement who proudly partners with local employers and school districts to empower and inspire the next generation of leaders to own their future success.

JA will continue offering virtual programming for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year, however, volunteer and education partners are still crucial to the student experience. Employee volunteers at organizations like JPMorgan Chase, stand ready to provide guidance and share personal, real-life lessons with students through JA’s distance learning programs. Last school year alone, 173 JPMorgan Chase volunteers served 2,255 students through JA’s programs.

“As one of the largest employers in central Ohio, we recognize our role in supporting workforce programs and solutions that keep our region growing and thriving for everyone,” said Cathy Norton, Managing Director and Volunteer Leadership Group Leader for JPMorgan Chase. “We’re thrilled to support partners like Junior Achievement of Central Ohio to ensure students have the critical resources and tools they need to succeed. JPMorgan Chase volunteers leverage their expertise and passion to help make an impact on our next generation.”

With community partners like JPMorgan Chase, JA is preparing the region’s students to achieve more in their careers and in life.

“As a school counselor, I’m always looking for ways to help my students explore various career pathways. Junior Achievement brings the business community to our classrooms,” said Taraja Shephard Allen, a school counselor in Columbus City Schools and JA’s 2020 Educator of the Year. “We introduce them to growing careers by letting them meet people in the field, sharing their experiences and giving their perspective and real life tips on what they can do now to prepare for the future.”

Even in the most challenging of times, central Ohio does not just survive - it thrives, serving the community and cultivating resilient future generations.

About Junior Achievement of Central Ohio

Junior Achievement of Central Ohio (JA) prepares central Ohio K-12 students for the business of life after graduation by convening and aligning government entities, for-profit partners, and educational systems to integrate and implement JA's proven, groundbreaking career-preparation, financial literacy and entrepreneurship programs. In the 2018/2019 school year, 3,900 community volunteers helped deliver JA programs to 30,865 K-12 students. In the 2019/2020 school year, JA facilitated 26,093 student interactions.

About the Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame

For thirty-three years, JA has honored local business and community leaders by inducting them into the Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame. The 2020 Laureates are Sandy Doyle-Ahern, President, EMH&T and Dr. David T. Harrison, President, Columbus State Community College. A Volunteer of the Year, and Educator of the Year are also recognized. This year’s honorees are JPMorgan Chase, and Taraja Shephard Allen respectively. The 2020 Junior Achievement Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame presented by American Electric Power will be celebrated virtually on November 18.

Despite Social Distancing Constraints, Local Entrepreneurs Connect with Students

“JA offers tremendous value to the students at Gahanna Lincoln,” said Bryce Culver, an educator at Gahanna Lincoln High School. ”One of the biggest challenges teachers face is obtaining real world experiences for my students. Junior Achievement helps bridge the gap between the business community and classroom.”

Junior Achievement of Central Ohio has partnered with Gahanna Lincoln High School since 2016 to bring real-world experiences to students through JA Job Shadow and JA Company Program. When school buildings closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, JA quickly partnered with educators like Culver and local entrepreneurs to continue providing these experiences to students at home.

Culver helped organize a virtual JA Career Speaker Series for Gahanna Lincoln 9th-12th grade students. One speaker was local serial entrepreneur, Tricia Wheeler.

“I have been an entrepreneur my whole life. Beginning when I was 10 and selling fruit cups outside my father’s ice cream shop,” said Wheeler, who founded Edible Columbus food magazine, The Seasoned Farmhouse cooking school, and Flowers and Bread cafe.

At JA, we know there is not one right path for everyone, and that few paths are linear. That’s why our programs develop foundational skills and knowledge that students can take with them wherever they go.

“I encouraged them to look for problems in their everyday life that need solved or an industry or product that could be done better. I wanted the kids to focus on their mindset,” said Wheeler. “I encouraged them to think about their life, their time, their personality, [and] how they want to live.”

"The speaker series has allowed students to have a set time each week to tune in ... and hear from industry experts,” Culver said. “Students left each session with a better understanding of the career pathway.”

Experiencing JA BizTown at Home

Many central Ohio families know and love JA BizTown, a simulation of Columbus where students get to take on the roles and responsibilities of real jobs in JA BizTown “shops.” Parents, volunteers, educators and students will testify that it is a day of fun, learning, growth and confidence boosting! That’s why we were so disappointed that the COVID-19 pandemic prevented thousands of students from experiencing JA BizTown this school year.

Luckily, our awesome program staff were able to quickly design and publish a digital version - JA BizTown Adventures - that has had more than 2,000 interactions already.

Through the JA BizTown Adventures, students can enter an exciting virtual business world as part of their daily remote learning classrooms, or just for fun. Students can assume five different roles from boss to financial expert to innovator to salesperson to consumer. At the end of the five JA BizTown Adventures, students will have a 360-degree view of how a business works and how money flows through an economy.

“The JA BizTown Adventures was just what our 5th graders needed,” said an educator at Robert Frost Elementary in Westerville. “The students were engaged. They showed up for every meeting in the morning and afternoon and were EXCITED. If distance learning is something that we would have to consider in the future, I would definitely implement this program again.”

At JA, we love that we are no longer constrained by capacity and distance. JA BizTown is limited by the student count per day and number of days a year by school calendars, but now with JA BizTown Adventures, we can deliver the financial literacy, work-readiness and entrepreneurship content to countless students each day online.

As one JA BizTown Adventures CFO put it, “I think Junior Achievement's program is important because as we grow up we are encouraged to work hard at school to be able to do the work. It encouraged me [to] study hard so I can get a good job that I like when I grow up.”

Experience JA BizTown Adventures Today!

Determined Teen Completes Internship Interrupted by COVID-19

“I got to experience life outside the classroom and I had the opportunity to transfer my knowledge from school into the workplace.” Before graduating from New Albany High School this year, Luke Dovell completed an internship with Lower.com as part of the JA Apprenticeship program.Luke Dovell

“We always were interested in testing the high school waters to see if we could pick up good talent there,” said Dan Snyder, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Lower.com. “Instead of doing it on our own, we felt partnering with an education leader like Junior Achievement made a lot of sense.”

Lower.com is a financial technology company that offers home financing and insurance. Snyder and his team partnered with Junior Achievement of Central Ohio to create a robust experience for high schoolers like Dovell.

“The thought was to co-create an internship-for-hire program that not only provided high school seniors practical learning about real estate and financial services, but allowed for life skills to be developed in a professional setting,” said Snyder.

Students completed a curriculum that covered topics like real estate transactions, leveraging equity, and credit. Students received school credit and pay for their internship. They took on the roles of account manager, interacting with real customers.

Dovell was only two weeks into his internship at Lower.com, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Dovell not only had to learn the world of work, he suddenly had to learn the world of work-from-home.

“However,” he said, “this was not necessarily a bad thing because I quickly learned and adapted to the situation and I made the best out of every day … I got to experience life outside the classroom and transform my study skills and overall work ethic into the workplace.”

Snyder expressed that high schools and colleges not only fail to educate youth about mortgage financing and consumer finance principles, but they also do not portray their field as the lucrative career option that it is. Dovell, however, was very excited about the prospect.

“The global financial tech market is expected to increase by 25% through the year 2022, and I wanted to be a part of this rapidly developing industry,” Dovell said. In fall 2020, Dovell will begin studying accounting at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business with a minor in real estate.

Snyder shared his vision for the future of Lower.com’s JA Apprenticeship program. “Ultimately, we would love to hire high school graduates full time, provide them tuition money so they can attend college part-time, while working and building their career. Gaining knowledge, earning money, and not getting buried in debt. Seems like a winning combination.”

Junior Achievement of Central Ohio Releases Free Resource to Help Teens Understand Financial Impact of COVID-19

Columbus, OH – Junior Achievement of Central Ohio is releasing a free resource for teens titled Making Sense: Understanding the Financial Impact of COVID-19. The guide is designed to answer teens’ questions about the economic implications of COVID-19, including “Why are some store shelves empty?”, “Why are some people losing their jobs?” and “Are we going into a recession, or even a depression?” The guide is available at JA.org/MakingSense.

“While social distancing is essential to fighting COVID-19, the disease and the steps we must take to address it are having a financial impact. Our goal is to help young people better understand what’s happening,” said Mike Davis, President of Junior Achievement of Central Ohio. “April is Financial Literacy Month, and this is really an important time to be sharing this kind of information.”

The guide is written with middle school and high school students in mind. It uses relatable examples to explain what a recession is, how the Federal Reserve works and steps being taken by government and the private sector to deal with the economic impact associated with COVID-19. JA is also offering free resources to teachers and parents who may have students finishing school online this semester. Those resources are available at JA.org/Tomorrows.

About Junior Achievement of Central Ohio

Junior Achievement (JA) of Central Ohio imagines a future where each new generation of students is inspired and prepared to achieve personal success in their career and in life. JA works each day to prepare central Ohio K-12 students for the business of life after graduation by convening and aligning government entities, for-profit partners, and educational systems to integrate and implement JA’s proven, groundbreaking career-preparation, financial literacy and entrepreneurship curriculum through JA BizTown and JA In-Class programs.

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The education, health and safety of our students, families, volunteers and partners are our top priority. 

Junior Achievement's leadership and staff know that many Junior Achievement of Central Ohio (JA) stakeholders are concerned about the uncertainty created by COVID-19. We are working with qualified health professionals and organizations to monitor the situation, provide safe learning environments, and share information with key stakeholders. We continue to communicate pertinent information and changes to programming with our audiences.
We are taking all possible precautions to ensure our building is safe and hygienic for our visitors.
Please find more information from the Ohio Department of Health online on preparing for COVID-19.
We recognize that this is an evolving situation. We will continue to stay in close, collaborative contact with our health department and other partners to share information as it becomes available.
Thank you,
Junior Achievement of Central Ohio

Treasurer Sprague Unveils Monthly "Compass Award" Program to Honor Excellence in Financial Literacy

Junior Achievement offices across the state of Ohio collectively became the inaugural recipients of the Ohio Treasurer's Compass Award for our dedication to financial literacy education. A representative from the Treasurer's office visited City Hall in JA BizTown to present JA of Central Ohio's award. Below is a press release from Ohio Treasurer, Robert Sprague.

Compass Award presentation at JABT

COLUMBUS – Treasurer Robert Sprague today announced the establishment of the Ohio Treasurer’s Compass Award program. The new monthly recognition program aims to shine a light on organizations, programs, and individuals across Ohio who are working to advance financial literacy and empowerment.

“Throughout Ohio, there are people and organizations moving the needle in the financial literacy space,” said Treasurer Sprague. “The Compass Awards will honor their work and highlight the success they have had in helping others to navigate their way to a bright financial future.”

In addition to making a difference through financial literacy education, Compass Award honorees have a proven record of success in preparing Ohio’s youth for future financial decisions.

Ohio’s eight independent chapters of Junior Achievement have garnered recognition as honorees of the inaugural Compass Awards.

Junior Achievement plays a critical role in the development of youth both here in Ohio and across the country. For more than 100 years, the organization has prepared young people for success through its focus on financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and career readiness. Through the nearly 50 programs it offers, Junior Achievement chapters support schools by filling instructional gaps in topics that are not part of core subjects.

“We are grateful to Treasurer Sprague for this recognition and to the 7,600+ volunteers across Ohio who help JA empower students to achieve personal success in their career and in life,” said Mike Davis, President of Junior Achievement of Central Ohio.

In Ohio, more than 154,000 K-12 students received more than 1,100,000 hours of education through Junior Achievement programming last school year. Program alumni are significantly more likely to complete a bachelor’s degree and 67% more likely to further their education and receive an advanced degree. Following completion of their education, 88% of Junior Achievement alumni report being satisfied with their eventual career and 90% are confident in their ability to manage money. This latter statistic is exemplified by the fact that nearly half of program alumni manage to pay off their student loan debt within 10 years of graduation, which is a stark contrast to the average of 21 years it typically takes for four-year graduates in the United States.

“Junior Achievement has been at the forefront of financial literacy and career readiness for more than a century,” said Sprague. “Few organizations globally – or here in Ohio – have made such a strong and lasting impact on our young people. Today, more than ever before, Ohio’s chapters of Junior Achievement are helping students blaze a trail toward future success.”

Locations of Ohio’s eight Junior Achievement chapters:


Robert Sprague became Ohio’s 49th Treasurer of State on January 14, 2019, bringing to the office his extensive experience working on financial matters in both the public and private sectors. Under Treasurer Sprague’s direction, the office manages the state’s $20 billion investment and $10 billion debt portfolios, collects and deposits all state revenues, and oversees custodial assets. 

Compass Award logo

Volunteer Spotlight: Ryan Reik

How & when did you first get involved with JA? Ryan Reik

I participated in JA as a 4th grader in the mid-90's. It had such an impact on the way that I viewed business and the world at large that, as an adult, I decided I needed to pay it forward. I have been volunteering with Junior Achievement since 2011 in both central Ohio and Austin, Texas.

What has been your experience with JA?

I started volunteering wherever I was needed at the time. I have done classes from third grade through high school, all over central Ohio. Every class has been not only a memorable experience for me, but I often feel like I learn more than I actually teach!

Why are you passionate about JA?

I am passionate about JA because I feel like there are a large number of relatively basic life skills that kids miss out on due to varying circumstances in their lives. I can go spend my five or six weeks with a group and every single time I see "the lightbulb" turn on when a kid gets it, it brings me a type of happiness I haven't experienced anywhere else.

Why do you choose to volunteer as an individual and also on the Volunteer Champions Committee?

As an individual, I volunteer to give back to a cause that helped shape who I am today. If I can help make one child's future even the slightest bit brighter, I have succeeded.

I participate as a member of the VCC committee because the most important part of being a leader is leading by example. With varying degrees of success, I am always trying to recruit new volunteers to help out here in central Ohio and I think the best way to influence that is completely immersing myself in the JA experience.

Favorite JA moment?

I started teaching down at Columbus Scioto in 2016. I was teaching two 7th grade classes in the spring and it was painfully evident that everyone was ready for summer. One student was particularly distant and hard to reach. He'd fall asleep while I was teaching, sometimes was disruptive but I could tell he had a good head on his shoulders and was bright. The 2017 school year rolls around and I get a message from Ms. Mazur at Scioto letting me know that the now 8th grade student had, on multiple occasions, asked if/when I'd be coming back to teach them again. There have been few moments in my life that I have smiled that big! And moments like that are why I will always be a champion and volunteer for Junior Achievement.

Announcing 2019 Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame Laureates

Junior Achievement of Central Ohio (JA) is pleased to announce the newest Laureates to be inducted into the Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame are Nick Akins, Chairman, President, & CEO of American Electric Power and Jim Merkel, CEO of Rockbridge.

Nick Akins  Jim Merkel

Nick leads one of the largest investor-owned electric utilities in the country and has been a driving force in the transition to a cleaner energy future with a workforce that mirrors the diversity of the customers it serves. Nick also gives back to the community by leading successful campaigns for the YWCA Columbus and the United Way of Central Ohio, and through service on three local nonprofit boards – OhioHealth Corporation, The Columbus Partnership and the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation.

Rockbridge CEO Jim Merkel has two decades of experience building hospitality, investment, and operating brands. Jim’s passion and vision extend beyond the investment world and drive a strong commitment by Rockbridge to making a difference in the communities in which it operates. Through Jim’s leadership, Rockbridge has provided volunteers and significant funding to support Big Brothers Big Sisters, Pelotonia, cancer research, and many other.  Jim has also held several industry and philanthropic board positions.

Join us in welcoming Nick and Jim at the 2019 Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame dinner, which will take place at the Greater Columbus Convention Center on Thursday, November 21, from 5:30 – 8:00pm. This will be our Centennial Celebration, marking 100 years since the establishment of Junior Achievement. Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are available online.

About Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame: Each year’s inductees are nominated and selected by past Laureates for their business excellence, courageous thinking and actions, community mindedness, vision and innovation, and inspiring leadership. New Laureates are inducted during dinner and a ceremony. During the ceremony, awards are presented to a Volunteer of the Year and an Educator of the Year, as well.

About Junior Achievement: Junior Achievement of Central Ohio (JA) imagines a future where each new generation of students is inspired and prepared to achieve personal success in their career and in life. We honor Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame Laureates as role models who inspire tomorrow’s leaders, including the 30,865 students we served in 2018-2019 school year with our career-readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy programs.

Presenting Sponsor

Volunteer of the Year Award Sponsor


Meet John Ness, JA of Central Ohio's Board Chair

John Ness, CEO of ODW Logistics, is a long-time JA volunteer, a JA alumnus, and Junior Achievement of Central Ohio’s newest Board Chair. We sat down with John and asked him about his experience with JA as a student, a volunteer, and as a parent. John Ness at ODW Logistics' JA BizTown shop

How & when did you first get involved with JA?

I recall a JA experience my Junior year at Upper Arlington High School.  It was a great experience because one of my football coaches taught the class, the topic was very interesting to me and we sold t-shirts for a small profit!  Approximately 25 years later, my wife signed me up as a parent volunteer at JA BizTown with my son’s 5th grade class.  I’ll never forget that day.  Jack’s team was outstanding.  The CFO ran payroll like a seasoned accountant and at one point I caught my son with his feet crossed on the chair reading the JA BizTown newspaper! Sure enough his engagement returned when he realized his shop was going to be short of paying back their loan.  The team rallied and made $2.00 profit that day.  Life lessons were everywhere and my son and I discovered a love for talking about business.

What has been your child(children's) experience with JA?

All four of my children have enjoyed JA BizTown, including my youngest who also attended JA BizTown summer camp.  They have all really enjoyed their experience and JA BizTown earns regular top ranking in “favorite memories of 5th grade at Tremont Elementary.”  Three out of 4 were shop CEO’s which has created a bit of healthy competition at home.  They love it because the experience broadens their minds, challenges them to think about their future, teaches them practical lessons about life and IT’S FUN! 

Why are you passionate about JA?

JA’s mission resonates deeply with my values.  The mission is to prepare students—all students, to be successful in life.  JA engages students from all walks of life and teaches them the value of good decision-making, financial literacy and helps them dream about what they can become.  It is a powerful formula.  More so, JA connects the education system and the business community together—JA understands that today’s students are tomorrow’s workforce and it is wonderfully positioned to meet the needs of both systems in our economy.  The Columbus regional impact of JA is 30,000 students strong and growing.  That is powerful and brings scale to make a difference to make our community better.  JA’s mission is one that more in our community need to know about. When we tell people, the response is really compelling.

You not only volunteer as an individual, but also with your team at ODW Logistics.  Can you talk about that experience?

It is good and important to serve together with your team at work.  Serving others eliminates titles and roles, and creates new work groups that have shared experiences.  The [JA BizTown] day is long and can be exhausting, but it is a ton of fun and brings lots of smiles and laughs.   

Favorite JA moment?

The morning after her JA BizTown experience, I was talking with my youngest daughter Ellie about her day.  As she recapped her favorite parts of the day, I told her I was headed back to JA for a board meeting.  She looked at me and asked what the board does.  I told her that our primary job is to make JA BizTown the best it can be.  She paused, looked at me and said, “How can BizTown get any better?!?”  It made my day!


From JA Student to JA Teacher

In high school, Deja Reid participated in our high school internship program, JA Leadership Academy. Now an Ohio State student and future educator, Dejar attended JA BizTown this past school year as a student teacher. Below, Deja shared more about her experience with JA and her plans for the future. Deja Reid

1. Where are you from?

I am originally from New Haven, Connecticut but have lived in Columbus, Ohio for over 10 years. I went to Columbus Alternative High School (CAHS) for high school.

2. What was your involvement with JA?

As a high school sophomore and senior, I participated in the Junior Achievement Leadership Academy. In addition to running one of the BizTown shops, I also gained exposure to central Ohio businesses through our trips to various business headquarters such as Abercrombie & Fitch and Cardinal Health. I also was a junior counselor during JA BizTown Summer Camp for two summers. In 2015, I emceed the Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame dinner, and in 2017, I spoke on behalf of Junior Achievement at the Columbus Women in Digital Conference.

3. What has JA meant to you?

One of the biggest takeaways from my time at JA was my growth in confidence. If I had known as a high school sophomore that I would soon be the emcee for an event with hundreds of business professionals and CEOs in attendance, I first wouldn’t believe it, then I would be terrified. Even as I was nervous on stage, knowing that Pete and the rest of the Junior Achievement staff believed in my ability to emcee the event empowered me to continue to pushing myself to speak in front of large groups. My confidence grew not just in front of large crowds but also in one-on-one conversations. The practice I received in conversations with business professionals, students, and teachers helped shaped conversations I’ve had even to this day. In addition to my development of soft skills, I also learned a great deal about personal finances through BizTown. I had never written a check or balanced a check book but I learned these skills through helping the BizTown students.

4. What are you doing these days?

I am beginning my junior year at The Ohio State University majoring in Middle Childhood Education. I am a scholars student in Mount Leadership Society at the university. I hold a student position as a Diversity Ambassador Captain in Ohio State Undergraduate Admissions where I aid in efforts to increase the populations of underrepresented students at the university.

5. Future plans?

My long term goal is to become a school teacher after I graduated college. In the near future, I plan to continue my involvement in programs and opportunities that aid in the education of students both inside and out of the classroom.


Casino Night Set for May 9 at The Grand Event Center in Grandview

Casino Night Set for May 9 at The Grand Event Center in Grandview
10th Annual event benefits Junior Achievement of Central Ohio

COLUMBUS, OHIOApril 12 , 2019  The 10th Annual Casino Night, benefiting Junior Achievement of Central Ohio, will be held from 5:30-9:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 9th at The Grand Event Center located at 820 Goodale Blvd, Columbus, Ohio 43212

For ten years, title sponsor Pepper Construction has supported the event alongside more than 50 leading businesses and 250 attendees to raise funds for Junior Achievement (JA) of Central Ohio.  This fun-filled Casino Night features heavy hors d'oeuvres, delicious cocktails and thrilling casino games brought to you by Black Diamond Casino Events.   

Since its inception, the event has raised funds to support more than 7,500 students benefitting from JA programs.  This year's event will increase that number by thousands with additional presenting sponsors like Chemcote, Double Eight Fire Protection, BrightView Landscape, Combs Interior Specialists, WF Bolin Company, Freeland Contracting Co., Kraft Electric and Telecommunications Services, Regal Plumbing and Heating Company, Roehrenbeck Electric Inc. and VMI Group Inc.

Tickets are $150 per person and can be purchased at https://www.juniorachievement.org/web/ja-centraloh/ja-casino-night   Additional corporate sponsorship opportunities are also available.

Pepper Ohio is an enthusiastic supporter of Junior Achievement, whose positive results are well documented (JA Alumni Report).

  • JA alumni earn 20% more than their peers
  • 88% of alumni are satisfied with their career
  • 90% are confident in their ability to manage money
  • They are 143% more likely to be involved in entrepreneurship

Junior Achievement of Central Ohio has seen a 13% average annual growth in number of students served in the last eight years. In the 2017-2018 school year, they taught 28,023 elementary, middle, and high school students across central Ohio about financial literacy, entrepreneurship and career readiness. 

View press release here.

Junior Achievement (JA) of Central Ohio 

Junior Achievement (JA) of Central Ohio is an affiliate of JA USA – the world’s largest organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan their future, and make smart academic and economic choices. JA programs are delivered by corporate and community volunteers. Their programs provide relevant hands-on experiences that give kids from kindergarten to high school knowledge and skills in financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and work readiness.

Pepper Construction of Ohio
Pepper Ohio is on the forefront of new markets and innovation, leading the industry in high performance and lean construction, as well as virtual technologies that deliver real value. With comprehensive teams in Columbus and Cincinnati, Pepper serves clients across the Region in markets such as higher education, healthcare, workplace, warehouse and distribution, manufacturing and light industrial, retail, data centers, entertainment and hospitality among others. Among the firm's current and recent projects are Kenyon College, Highland District Hospital and IKEA at Polaris.


Jane Grote Abell & Jordan Miller Join Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame

Jane Grote Abell, Chairwoman of the Board, Donatos Pizza, and Jordan A. Miller, Jr., Regional Chairman, Fifth Third Bank, Central Ohio, were selected by their peers to become the newest laureates of Junior Achievement of Central Ohio’s Business Hall of Fame. 

For thirty-one years, the Business Hall of Fame has honored central Ohio community leaders who demonstrate business excellence, courageous thinking and action, vision and innovation, inspiring leadership, and community mindedness – Jane and Jordan embody all of these qualities. 

Today’s Leaders Inspiring Leaders of Tomorrow 

A founding family member of Donatos Pizza, Jane Grote Abell currently holds the title of Chairwoman of the Board. Over the last four decades, Jane has held a variety of positions at both Donatos Pizza and Jane’s Dough Foods, including Chief Executive Officer. 

After McDonald’s purchased Donatos in 1999, Jane was a major catalyst behind the decision to purchase Donatos back in 2003. Following the buyback, she led the company through a $10.5 million turnaround.

In 2012, Jane co-founded the Reeb Avenue Center, a social-services center housing 14 non-profits that focus on education and workforce development which has been recognized as a national social services model.

Jane serves as a member of the Columbus Partnership and the Otterbein Women's Leadership Advisory Council and sits on the Boards for the Reeb Avenue Center, Action for Children and Experience Columbus among others.

 Jane was also featured in CBS’s hit series Undercover Boss where she donned a disguise and went undercover in Donatos restaurants. In 2015, she released her first book THE MISSING PIECE: Doing Business the Donatos Way.

Jordan A. Miller is regional chairman of Fifth Third Bank (Central Ohio). He leads the Bank’s local advisory board and supports efforts to expand business while maintaining a significant commitment to civic leadership and customer interests. Over the past 20 years with Fifth Third, he has served as regional president, president of Fifth Third Securities Inc., and senior vice president and manager of Fifth Third Investment Advisors (Cincinnati). He started his career as a bank examiner with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Miller served in the Air Force and earned his bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Maryland in College Park. He was awarded an honorary doctorate of community leadership from Franklin University in Columbus in 2013. 

He serves on the board of Columbus Regional Airport Authority, Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Columbus Metropolitan Library. He is chairman of Central Ohio’s 2018-19 United Way campaign. 

He is a member of the Columbus Partnership, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland – Columbus Business Advisory Council, Ohio Banking Commission, Columbus Downtown Development Corp. and Columbus City Schools Finance and Appropriations Committee. 

Jordan A Miller Jr

Event Details

This year the Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame will take place the evening of Thursday, November 29, 2018 at The Greater Columbus Convention Center, Short North Ballroom. The event will begin at 5:30 PM and end at 8:00 PM. All proceeds from the Hall of Fame will benefit Junior Achievement of Central Ohio and help to create real-world experiences that teach kids in central Ohio financial literacy, ignite an entrepreneurial way of thinking, and build skills for success in careers and in life.


Three New JA BizTown Storefronts Open this Year!

JA BizTown’s first week of the 2017-2018 school year started Monday, September 25th and now offers three new career pathways for students experience. Thanks to Junior Achievement (JA) of Central Ohio’s sponsors, Franklin University, Kroger, and Pepper Construction, students have the opportunity to experience jobs in academia, traditional retail, and skilled trade respectively.

On September 20th JA of Central Ohio’s staff and board members celebrated the expansion with a ribbon cutting, and were joined by leadership from all three shops and several other JA BizTown companies as well.

"We are excited about being a new member of the JA BizTown family. We partner with JA because of the kind of experiential learning kids get here - the world-class learning about business, working in teams, and many other 21st century skills, students are acquiring these abilities right here in the JA BizTown facility."

-Dr. Christopher Washington, Executive Vice President and Provost, Franklin University

Franklin University, Kroger, and Pepper Construction join 14 other Columbus businesses such as Cardinal Health, Huntington, Donatos, IGS, and the Columbus Foundation to help prepare kids in central Ohio for the business of life. This year, JA of Central Ohio will serve over 28,000 students. More than 14,000 of those students will go through the JA BizTown program – learning money management, developing communication skills, and practicing problem solving.

Ohio State Students Mentor JA Company Program Students This Summer

“Practice makes perfect.”  “We learn from failure.”  “Try, try again.

We have all heard these clichés but we also know there is truth to them. We learn from our experiences, yet we don’t often get to practice at life and business. Junior Achievement (JA) programs strive to instill confidence in kids by having them practice the business of life through activities focused on financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and work readiness skills. The JA Company Program hits all three of those categories, and, by allowing high school students the opportunity to build their own business, the JA Company Program provides the ultimate “practice ground” for launching a start-up.

While normally run during the school year, this summer JA of Central Ohio is partnering with The Past Foundation to hold a summer camp implementing the JA Company Program on Tuesday and Thursday mornings beginning June 6th. The ideas, products, companies, and revenue created in this program are all real but the students have mentors on-hand to guide them through market research, business structure, management and leadership, marketing, sales, supply chain management, and finance. This is where students from The Ohio State University have stepped in to help.

With entrepreneurship growing in central Ohio the past several years, Ohio State has begun several programs and classes surrounding entrepreneurship and innovation which is producing business savvy students. Cole Morris is one of these students who will be a mentor during JA’s summer program.

“As a peer mentor, I’m able to share advice and resources directly with the kids that are more actionable; instead of giving the “big picture” answer and telling the students the overall summary of their journey, I can help them navigate each stepping stone with advice tailored to their strengths, weaknesses, and limitations as young adults,” said Morris.

While pursuing finance and data analytics at Ohio State, Morris has also been through the fundamental development phases of starting a business at least three times – providing him the opportunity to interact with small business owners, venture capitalists, accelerators, and more within the Columbus entrepreneurial community. He is looking forward to sharing this knowledge with the summer camp students to help them progress to the next step with their company.

Ibrahim Mohmed is another Ohio State student who will serve as a mentor during the summer camp. Through his personal business (IFAA), Mohmed has already been involved with the The Wellington School JA Company Program*, but is excited to work with more high school kids this summer to help them and their ideas grow.

“Starting and learning how to operate a company is one of the hardest things to do, but it is so beneficial. It will push these kids out of their comfort zones, teach them to be independent, and to learn from their mistakes,” said Mohmed.

If you have a high school student, definitely consider registering them for this summer’s JA Company Program camp, because remember:

“Practice makes perfect.”     “We learn from failure.”     “Try, try again.

Pictures from when the Russian students visited The Wellington School

[gallery ids="403,404,405,406,407" type="rectangular"]

*The Wellington School students, in partnership with JA of Central Ohio and the Columbus International Program, are starting a business with peers from Siberia. In January, the Russian students visited the US and in March the US students visited Russia to continue development of their company. Abe Mohmed and his team at IFAA are helping to create an app for the team and plan to have the beta out at the end of May 2017.

Faith McKiver - How the JA BizTown Internship Inspired Me

Working in the Junior Achievement of Central Ohio (JA BizTown) program was an amazing opportunity.  I first learned about this program through my internship coordinator, Mrs. Diawara.  She piqued my interest in how well she described the program.  She explained that I would learn all about finance, early childhood education, and running a business.  I was intrigued by the opportunity, and I also still needed the required 120 internship hours to graduate.  I thought to myself, what an excellent opportunity!  On the other hand, I was a bit apprehensive about accepting the JA BizTown Internship, because I knew nothing about finance, nor educating younger children.  Today, I am glad that I did not let my apprehensiveness get the best of me!

Through the JA BizTown internship, I learned several things about myself.  I learned how to have fun with children, and how to make the JA BizTown experience more fun for the children.  I also learned the importance of budgeting and saving money.  As a result, I feel better prepared to manage upcoming student loans and scholarship money.

In the fall of 2017, I will begin a new academic journey at the Columbus State Community College.

The JA Biztown internship has given me the confidence to pursue business management as a major.  Furthermore, I am the first person in my family to attend college.

Early on in life, I realized the importance of going to college.  I knew that I did not want to live paycheck to paycheck, or to accrue an excessive amount of debt to attend school.   I simply desire more out of life.  Going to college is a blessing for me.  It is a chance at financial freedom and multiple career opportunities for me as well as my family.  Through my personal experience, I want other students, (including the JA BizTown students), to see me, and to know that they can accomplish any academic or career goal they desire. I strive to be a positive role model for all students.

Happy International Women's Day!

Women of JACO

Today is International Women’s Day so I thought I would highlight a women’s initiative here at JA of Central Ohio (JACO) called Women of JACO (WJACO). WJACO is a group of women who gather throughout the year to engage and impact local students, network with other female professionals, participate in professional development opportunities, promote their career and industry to local students, and further the mission of Junior Achievement (JA).

Elizabeth Brown 3This last Friday, WJACO hosted a panel discussion titled Championing Women in the Workplace – providing ideas on how to proactively support women in the workplace and how to address gender issues in the office. The rock star panel consisted of Kelley Griesmer from the Columbus Foundation, Councilmember Elizabeth Brown, and Caroline Worley, owner and Co-Founder of Worley Law. WJACO also had the opportunity to host PhD candidate Jill Yavorsky as the moderator. Jill is an expert on patterns and mechanisms of gender inequality in the workplace as well as unequal divisions of labor between men and women in the home. (Who better to guide the conversation!?!)

With Jill’s guidance, the panel answered questions on career advancement, the wage gap, women mentorship, and work-life balance. There was an abundance of great advice, but here are a few of the key takeaways:

Advancing Your Career & the Wage Gap

  1. Be brave for yourself and others. Don’t be afraid to call out a gender issue, it will help people recognize it and change.
  2. Negotiate your salary. Ask for promotions and prepare 6 to 12 month plans.
  3. Don’t self-anchor yourself (aka don’t be afraid to brag)

    1. Every couple of months write down your accomplishments
    2. Recommended Book: Brag! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It by Peggy 

MentorshipJill and Morgan

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – everyone needs a mentor even if you are at the top of your game
  2. When meeting with a mentor:

    1. Set goals
    2. Make Agendas
    3. Talk about challenges in obtaining your goals
    4. Make sure your mentor is committed

  3. Be present for one another, talk about your struggles

Work-Life Balance

  1. Don’t think of it as work-life balance but rather base what you do on your priorities
  2. Don’t overcommit

    1. Recommended Book: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

  3. Finding the right romantic or marital partner is very important

    1. Be a team
    2. Make sure you are supportive of each other

WJACO puts on several other events throughout the year and is awesome opportunity for professional development and impacting the kids in our community. If you are interested in more information email Amanda Turner at aturner@jacols.org.

Happy International Women’s Day!


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Press Releases

JA USA® Press Releases



  • "I can't think of a better gift for kids than to prepare them for success in the real world." - Aaron Bahe, Columbus City School Teacher

  • "I loved being the mayor of JA BizTown. I now have a good understanding of how busy business can be." - Gabbie Schneider, JA BizTown Student

  • "I loved my job as the CFO! It was so much fun. If I did this everyday it would be great!" - JA BizTown Student

  • "Kids are capable of more than we know. JA is a great way to demonstrate the real life skills they will all need." JA of Central Ohio Volunteer

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