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Dream Big

As a child, Jack Frencho dreamed of being a dentist. Either that or a professional golfer.

Ultimately, his professional aspirations moved in other directions. Building a career in financial services, today he enjoys success as a wealth management advisor for U.S. Bank. However, through his volunteer work with Junior Achievement, Jack also helps empower students in Central Ohio to explore their own passions just as he did – inspiring them to dream big and giving them the confidence to pursue those dreams.

Jack has served as a JA In-Class volunteer since 2011. He especially loves working with the younger grades, perhaps recognizing a bit of himself in the enthusiasm, energy, and inquisitive minds these students bring to his JA sessions. He recently shared an experience teaching in a 2nd grade classroom, in which one young boy expressed his dream of becoming an entrepreneur, starting his own company, and then selling it after it became successful.

“To dream like this in second grade! I continue to be amazed every day by these students. It gives me confidence that we – teachers, volunteers, parents, and guardians – are doing the right things for our children.”

JA volunteerHonored in 2014 as Junior Achievement of Central Ohio’s Volunteer of the Year, Jack has personally worked with over 300 students. “Jack is an incredible individual,” says JA In-Class Program Manager Stephanie Patton. “Whether he is in a suburban or inner city school, whatever the setting, he has the unique ability to connect with every one of his students. It’s telling that every teacher he has ever volunteered for has requested to have him back.”

In addition to his teaching, Jack has found ways to impact even more students with JA programming, serving as a guest trainer to help prepare new volunteers for their experience in the classroom. He also currently serves on JA’s Volunteer Champions Committee, through which he actively recruits other volunteers at U.S. Bank and other organizations.

He credits U.S. Bank for their support of his involvement with JA.

“U.S. Bank has been a terrific supporter of JA in allowing me the flexibility to teach multiple classes. As a member of U.S. Bank’s Employee Development Network, I have a platform from which to share my experiences and engage colleagues to participate. Today’s environment offers multiple options for employees to share their time, talent, and treasure, and I continue to promote JA as one to always consider.”

U.S. Bank has also been generous in their financial support through the U.S. Bank Foundation and sponsorship of the Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame event.

Jack is emphatic that he gets as much out of his volunteer experiences as do his students. “Each time I teach a class, I learn something new and fresh, and it usually comes from the students themselves. My experience with JA reinforces that being a teacher of children is critical to everyone’s future. The “real” teachers are amazing, patient, and compassionate, and I’m grateful to contribute to the learning that happens in their classrooms.”


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

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*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.

JA BizTown Summer Camp


Summer of 2016 began with two weeks of JA BizTown Summer Camp in June. JA BizTown is a simulation where kids in fourth through sixth grades have the opportunity to run a mini-city for the day. Each student has a job that ranges from CEO to Sales Manager or radio DJ to physician. Their goal is to pay off the “business loan” they took out from Huntington Bank by the end of the day. Leading up to the simulation teachers go through 12 to 19 lessons preparing the students for a day at JA BizTown – teaching them how to write a check, the difference between debits and credits, relationship building, and more. Now imagine all of this in one week and you have JA BizTown Summer Camp!

Okay, maybe not exactly. However, the differences are very cool. Having the same kids for an entire week allowed the JA BizTown staff to create a more interactive curriculum and focus on teamwork.

“It’s exciting to have the same kids for five days. It was great to see the kids have the opportunity to build their team throughout the activities,” said JA BizTown Program Manager Diane Betteridge.

With the high-level objectives of teaching kids about entrepreneurship, marketing, customer service, financial literacy, job preparation, philanthropy, teamwork, and personal development, JA BizTown staff brought in speakers, had kids complete projects for non-profit organizations, played out “shark tank” skits, and ran several days of JA BizTown.

A benefit to summer camp is that campers get to go through a two-day-long simulation of running JA BizTown instead of just one. However, before they could run the city they needed to go through some “training”.

ribbonOne of the activities JA BizTown campers participated in was a program called My Special Word, created by JA’s very own Board of Directors Chairman, Dwight Smith. The idea behind My Special Word is to teach students that words are impactful, and using positive words can help inspire, lift you up, and ultimately change how you feel about yourself, others, and the environment. Each camper was given a wristband that said “What is Your Word?” and encouraged to go home and discuss with their family the creation of their special word. The next day, students came back to camp and made a bracelet with their special word on the band. JA is about so much more than financial literacy. A little girl named Lauren lost her mom to cancer last year. She chose the word "ribbon" for her special word because she used to hate seeing cancer ribbons everywhere. She said “ribbon" now served as a reminder to her that it is good to remember the people we love but is are also a message of hope for fighters and survivors. WOW! What an amazing kid!

And there is more. Continuing to teach personal development, JA BizTown Summer Camp instructors brought in non-profit organization My Very Own Blanket to discuss philanthropy. Afterwards, kids worked in their business groups to make blankets for foster children who typically don’t have anything that is their own.

In addition to My Special Word and My Very Own Blanket, JA BizTown campers did learn about financial literacy through games and lessons, along with building miniature cities to learn about community, and participated in job interviews in preparation to run JA BizTown.

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The two most popular jobs are that of the Mayor and radio DJ. Learning about communication skills and public speaking, the kids take part in an election for the two positions, giving speeches on why they are most qualified, leaving their fate up to the voters – JA BizTown citizens. Check out the slideshow to see what their days at JA BizTown looked like including surprise visits from the CD 102.5 ice cream truck and Donatos and Canes for lunch!

On the last day of summer camp, campers were divided into teams and given materials to build a game. Teams then had to create and try to “sell” their game to a panel of JA BizTown instructors – much like the popular tv show Shark Tank. While not as harsh as some of the actual Shark Tank panelists (ahem Kevin O’Leary…), students still learned a lot about entrepreneurship and what it takes to sell a product and build a business.

Check out the below slideshow to get a recap of the two weeks of JA BizTown Summer Camp!



Next year’s JA BizTown summer camp will run the first two weeks of June ( Save the Date: June 5-9 and June 12-16) and is open to students entering fifth through eighth grade in the fall of 2017. Trust me, your kids will not want to miss out! For more information, you can click here or email Pete Crozier at pcrozier@jacols.org.

New Experiences Offered by JA of Central Ohio BizTown

Junior Achievement (JA) BizTown kicked off the 2016-2017 school year on September 28th with Buckeye Valley Middle School. The 77 students that attended were the first to encounter a lot of fun changes to JA BizTown. Over the summer, JA BizTown added three new shops – a Cardinal Health Pharmacy store, Discover store, and a kiosk for Franklin University.


New shops don’t just mean a new look, they also mean new jobs and “life experiences” for JA BizTown citizens. Cardinal Health Pharmacy brought new positions such as a Pharmacist, Pharmacy Technician, and Marketing Director, along with the standard CEO and CFO positions required for every shop. Each job plays an important role to achieve the ultimate goal of paying off the business’s loan which is taken out from Huntington Bank at the beginning of the day. For example, the Pharmacist is responsible for assembling the first aid kits (which are later distributed by the Marketing Director), sorting inventory, and learning directions for the “prescriptions” they will be providing JA BizTown Citizens. The “prescriptions” and first aid kits bring in revenue to go towards paying off the loan. A “prescription” may be needed if a JA BizTown citizen receives a Life Happens card stating that they are ill or have an injury.

Life Happens cards are a new part of JA BizTown to help demonstrate the integration between business and life. Life Happens situations range from illnesses to furthering education. If a citizen receives a card stating that they are ill, they are instructed to go to the Blue Jackets Physician where they receive a prescription that is to be filled at the Cardinal Health Pharmacy. However, a citizen could receive a card directing them to further their education. At this point the student goes to JA BizTown’s new Franklin University kiosk.


The Franklin University Kiosk is run by a volunteer who guides the student through a career interest questionnaire to find out “what they should be when they grow up.” Options include careers in aviation, banking, teaching, and more. Students take a picture in front of a green screen and then have a picture of their “chosen career industry” placed behind them. The picture is printed on the back of a job certificate the student receives, describing the industry and possible career opportunities which the child takes home with them.

“Across the street” from Franklin University is Discover. This new store is JA BizTown’s premier online bank. The shop has a CEO, CFO, Customer Service Representative, Account Executive, and a Sales Manager to run business for a day. Discover provides all JA BizTown citizens with debit cards that allow for direct deposit capabilities – all shops accept cash, check, and debit allowing the student to choose which method they want to use.

JA BizTown will run 130 days this school year, an increase of 16 days from the 2015-2016 school year. JA BizTown, in general, serves fifth grade students; however, it can also encompass grades four and six depending on the school. The interactive simulation of JA BizTown itself takes about four and a half hours, but teachers go through 12 to 19 lessons in their classroom to prepare students for JA BizTown. By the end of the simulation, students should know how to make personal financial decisions and be able to connect their interests and passions to different careers. As Marzooq Nadeem, JA BizTown Mayor from Buckeye Valley Middle School, stated, “[JA BizTown] is one of the most effective ways [students] can learn about the real strategies of everyday life because it’s a hands-on experience.”

Marzooq’s entire speech is available to read here.


A New Way to Volunteer for JA In-Class

Fall is here and Junior Achievement (JA) In-Class 2016-2017 programs have been running for one month. With the JA In-Class team (Mike Fulwider, Stephanie Patton, and Wes Taylor) now fully built out, they are projected to increase the number of students served by JA In-Class programs to over 13,000 students – a 1,400 increase from 2015-2016!

As you can imagine, reaching these additional students requires additional volunteers. Several new programs have been created to help engage more of the community with JA programs. One program is the Volunteer Champions Committee (VCC). The VCC is made up of JA volunteers who work within a corporation or organization and want to help spread the word about Junior Achievement. Most recently, our volunteer champion from EY set up a lunch-and-learn where Stephanie Patton, JA Programs Manager, went in to discuss how JA In-Class programs work. JA In-Class volunteers have the opportunity to impact an entire classroom of students – teaching them about entrepreneurship, budgeting, and how they affect the community around them – things most of us wish we had learned at a younger age, right? JA In-Class allows you to bring all of those skills to the students, so when they think about their future they aren’t wondering, “How does a student loan work?” or “How do I manage to pay rent, a car payment, utilities, and still have money for food?”

All of this can sound intimidating. You might think: “I can’t teach about budgeting” or “I’m nervous to do this by myself.” There is no need to worry about that with JA. We train you for one hour on the program and provide all the materials. If you don’t want to teach by yourself, invite a friend to do it with you. This is another new initiative JA In-Class rolled out this year – the “Bring-A-Friend” campaign. Go through the class with a friend, colleague, or family member to help split the time or not have so many of those first day jitters.

Allison Walker of Columbus Children’s Theatre recently volunteered for her first ever JA In-Class program on October 6th, 2016. She was inspired by JA’s very own Kate Hemleben, Vice President of Operations. Check out her interview below about being a new JA In-Class volunteer.

Why did you volunteer for JA?

I was inspired by my friend who just started working at JA. The idea of teaching money and responsibility to our youth was so appealing and exciting to me. I mean, I was the young girl who, for fun, made her Barbies and Lego people work jobs and pay rent!

What were/are you most nervous about when volunteering for a JA In-Class Program?

So far, I am most nervous the hour right before teaching each lesson. I always hope that I am communicating the right ideas. Finding the balance between achieving the lesson in 30 minutes and allowing personal expression has been the most intimidating.

Would you have volunteered at first without a friend?

I would not have even known about JA without Kate! It was not an option for me in school. I really enjoy being able to split the experience with another person. It helps to bounce ideas of one another.

Would you volunteer by yourself now?

I would! It is a little difficult with my schedule, but being able to drive to a nearby school to teach for 45 minutes and head straight back to work is really the equivalent of a hearty lunch break.

What is your favorite part of volunteering for a JA In-Class program?

So far, I most enjoy seeing the kids respond to the organized tasks. It makes me feel like we are communicating the lesson plan correctly as we are eliciting the correct responses. It is so satisfying for everyone to raise their hands with the correct answer!

What would you tell someone who is nervous or considering volunteering for a JA In-Class program?

The Bring-A-Friend system is a terrific way to get into the program! A lesson or two with an experienced teacher may help you feel good heading into the classroom, but the thankyous, compliments, and even a couple hugs from a group of first graders will make you feel like a million bucks!

So there you have it – everything you need to know about volunteering for a JA In-Class program!

The second wave of classes begins in January 2017, which is only about two months away! Check out the JA In-Class Programs page on our website and consider volunteering for a class or sign up now! You won’t regret it!

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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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