JA In The News | Junior Achievement of Central Ohio

Junior Achievements are Newsworthy

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!


From Classroom to Boardroom

Although many who serve on Junior Achievement’s (JA) Board of Directors can claim experience in the classroom as a JA Volunteer, only one has also served in the role of Educator.

Retired in 2015 after 31 years teaching in Dublin City Schools, and currently serving as a Program Specialist in the Ohio Department of Education’s Office of Educator Effectiveness, Board member Dee Anna Chickerella brings a unique perspective to her leadership role with JA. Her ability to view programming through the lens of a teacher and her personal knowledge of program implementation from inside the classroom brings immeasurable value to JA.

Dee Anna has worked with JA for almost two decades, first helping to bring JA BizTown to her Chapman Elementary classroom in 1998. She quickly recognized the potential of the program, then called Exchange City, to augment her own teaching and jumped at the chance to serve on JA’s local advisory board and help write program curriculum. She subsequently used JA programming to introduce an extended marketplace project with her school community, one that continues to raise thousands of dollars each year and has supported The Dublin Food Pantry, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Kids ‘n Kamp, and other local nonprofit organizations.

In all, more than 1,800 Chapman Elementary students experienced JA BizTown with “Mrs. Chick.” Today, conversations with former students, many now adults themselves, often center on fond memories of the program.

“Every 5th grader that ever went to BizTown always left with a sense of pride in the work they had done and the accomplishments of their business. Years later, they always want to remind me what job they had, how much they learned about money, and how grown up they felt,” said Dee Anna.

In her Board work today, Dee Anna is guided by her understanding of the challenges teachers face on a daily basis. Time to teach curriculum while being part of a high-pressure, high-stakes education system is at the top of the list. A tireless advocate for the classroom, she understands the importance of ensuring teachers are comfortable with program content and aware of its alignment with national and state academic teaching standards.

“JA teachers understand that our programs offer authentic learning, open doors for students to learn about careers they might never have known existed, and help them benefit from time with business mentors and role models to whom they would otherwise not have access.”

A role model herself, Dee Anna was named JA’s 2014 Educator of the Year at the Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame, where attendees had the opportunity to hear from a few former students about the impact she made on their lives. Students shared memories of their experiences in the classroom and at JA BizTown, but most importantly, about the love of learning she had instilled in them, both in and outside of the classroom.

Today, Dee Anna brings that same level of commitment to her work with JA’s Board and on its Development Committee. President Mike Davis comments,

“Dee Anna is a valuable addition to our leadership team. The insight and experience she brings has helped guide decisions at the most strategic level and ensures that student learning is at the forefront of everything we do.”

Dee Anna is equally motivated by her fellow Board members.

“I’m inspired by the commitment and passion demonstrated every day by my fellow board members. My time has been filled with learning, engagement, and advocating for a program about which I am passionate. I believe our work is important, and I can’t imagine anything more fulfilling or a better way to help bring critical educational opportunities to students in Central Ohio.”

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.”


How to Give Back In Your Business

TRUE Studios provides free headshots.

How do you use your talents or resources to give back to the community? I just learned of a video studio that uses their skills to provide free professional headshots.

TRUE Studios is a video production company in Columbus, Ohio that brings creativity and goodness together. Principal and Creative Director, Brian Caiazza, founded TRUE Studios in 2000 – wanting to create a company that was passionate about what they did but also focused on giving back to people. In this spirit, Brian started advertising complimentary professional headshots. What does a free headshot come with? TRUE Studios provides a 10-15 minute studio photo shoot on a black or white background, basic photo retouching and editing for one photo, and three to five great images of you to download. Also remember, this is a free, no strings attached offer!

[caption id="attachment_248" align="alignleft" width="147"]professional headshot My professional headshot by TRUE studios.[/caption]

After seeing it on Facebook I decided to try it out and could not be happier with the product. You do not want to pass this up, because not only will you get a great professional picture to help brand yourself in the business community but it is also a great networking opportunity – Brian has over 15 years of marketing and creative communications experience, so take a minute to get to know him.

In Junior Achievement one of our main pillars is career readiness and includes teaching about professionalism. In an age of social media, your online brand is incredibly important and part of that is a having professional photo. Now a headshot in front of a white or black screen may not be for you, think about what you do and how you want to represent yourself. However, for many in the corporate community this type of professional headshot can make a great first impression on current and future employers. So a big thank you to TRUE Studios for helping people put their best foot forward and for demonstrating how to use your talents and resources to give back to the community.

Check out TRUE Studios to schedule your photoshoot.

Volunteering and its Effect on Office Culture

Volunteering is more than giving time and money at EY – it is their culture.

Their tagline, “Building a better working world”, encourages community involvement. Volunteering with organizations such as Junior Achievement (JA) is one of the ways they connect to the community.

“Volunteering is a daily thing at EY and whenever I talk to someone who has volunteered for a JA In-Class program they always have a big smile on their face as they describe how much they connected to the kids and the kids connected to them,” said Matt Napier, Assurance Senior at EY and JA Volunteer Champion.

How to engage employees in volunteering

Matt started at EY two years ago and heard of JA through the office’s weekly email which communicates different volunteer needs along with office updates.

“I volunteered for the Economics for Success JA In-Class program and I loved it so much I approached Tammy Izzo [EY Central Region Government and Public Sector Leader and JA Board Member] on how I could get more involved,” said Matt, “So I joined the JA Volunteer Champion Committee and became the JA Office Champion, meaning I am responsible for dispersing any information about JA as soon as possible to EY staff.”

An office volunteer champion is a common model for offices to maintain nonprofit relations and promote volunteerism among employees. EY has also incorporated several other tactics, through Matt’s help, such as hosting lunch and learns with JA staff, making sure JA opportunities are consistently in their weekly email, providing incentives for financial giving, e.g. jean day, and including JA volunteer opportunities on employee onboarding days.

[caption id="attachment_226" align="alignnone" width="1024"]ey-volunteers EY employees volunteer to help get JA BizTown ready before students start to attend.[/caption]

EY also sponsors the annual "EY Connect Day" where employees from each EY office spend one day in their community volunteering at a variety of different nonprofits. For JA this could mean participating in JA In-A-Day where volunteers team up and teach all five sessions of a particular JA Program in one day or helping in the administrative offices at JA.

Benefits of having employees volunteer

Studies have shown that volunteering can potentially increase employee productivity, company pride, gratitude in the work environment, and ethical behavior.

One EY volunteer, Alex Criss, described her experience as very rewarding.

“Teaching the JA class helped me develop a number of skills. It was good practice for how to prepare for and give a presentation to a specific audience. I also gained time management skills by managing how to fit each session’s materials into a 45-minute class period,” said Alex.

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There are also team building benefits to volunteering for a JA In-Class program. A new JA campaign initiative, Bring-A-Friend, encourages volunteers to co-teach by either teaching sessions together or splitting the sessions between themselves. EY Volunteer Jesslyn Patel volunteered with her co-worker Kate Pelini [hyperlink to Kate’s article] and commented,

“It was a great way to get an opportunity to bond with a fellow EY member that does not serve in the same service line that I do. I don’t see my friend Kate often, but knowing that I could see her once a week was always exciting!”

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So moral of the story, volunteer!

“I’m so glad I took this opportunity.  It was something I always looked forward to each week, and it was always a nice way to change up the work week! You’ll learn a lot more about yourself than you think through the way you teach, and getting to share life skills with them and see the wheels turning in their minds makes it so worthwhile.” – Kate Pelini.

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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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