JA is Really Newsworthy!

Wells Fargo Gives JA $100K to Prepare Students for Jobs

Wells Fargo & Company announced on Monday a $100,000 donation to Junior Achievement of Chicago (JA) that will help prepare 4,600 local students for future employment. The bank’s contribution, more than double its 2016 gift, supports 200 JA financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship programs in Chicago schools.

Chicago Wells Fargo executives and team members presented the grant during a JA Reverse Job Shadow program on Monday at Phoenix Military Academy, a Chicago Public Schools (CPS) high school and Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps Military Academy on the city’s West Side.

JA Reverse Job Shadow– now in its fourth year – brings volunteers into Chicago classrooms to discuss their vocation, education decisions, and the joys and frustrations of their fields with students. In the 2016-2017 school year, the program will give nearly 228,000 students the opportunity to interact with professionals through discussions and hands-on activities. Since 2014, JA Reverse Job Shadow has reached more than 540,000 Chicago area students.

“JA is a key partner for our school in preparing students for the world of work,” said Army Sergeant First Class and senior advisor Michael Walker of Phoenix Military Academy. “JA’s career-readiness programs and volunteers from the business world help students understand the potential for their futures.”

Phoenix Military Academy, which has participated in JA since 2006, has put more than 3,800 students through JA programs. Ninety-six percent of the school’s students are from low-to-moderate-income homes.

More Chicago schools and classrooms reap the benefits of JA programming than any U.S. city, serving approximately 570,000 students of all racial and economic backgrounds in 27,000-plus classrooms at no cost to schools. During the 2015-2016 school year, 62 percent of JA of Chicago students were from low-to-moderate income homes. During their primary and secondary school years, half of all CPS children have some contact with JA programs, which are led by community volunteers, including Wells Fargo team members.

“Wells Fargo is a proud, longtime supporter of Junior Achievement’s efforts in Chicago and nationwide to help make students more employable in the future,” said Patrice DeCorrevont, executive vice president and division manager for Wells Fargo Government and Institutional Banking, who is based in Chicago. “We are committed champions of economic empowerment in our communities and invest in programs that improve educational opportunities for children.”

More than 60 Wells Fargo team members such as DeCorrevont serve on JA’s area boards nationwide, including Chicago-based company executives Steve Battreall, president and CEO for Commercial Distribution Finance, and Daniel Van Aken, managing director and portfolio manager for Industrials Group. A dozen Wells Fargo team members have volunteered in more than 30 Chicago classrooms in the 2016-2017 school year to date, with more volunteers scheduled through June.

Marsh & McLennan Companies Make an Impact in Chicago

Junior Achievement of Chicago (JA) is proud to announce a generous $10,000 grant awarded by Marsh & McLennan Companies (MMC). This grant supports MMC's volunteerism with JA and brought the JA programs to over 750 students in the City of Chicago.

In November 2016, 26 Mercer and NERA employees volunteered in 16 classrooms at St. Nicholas Tolentine School in the West Lawn neighborhood. This past May, 37 March, Mercer, NERA, and Oliver Wyman employees volunteered in 18 classrooms at Volta Elementary School in the Albany Park neighborhood.

"We are grateful for MMC's involvement in JA, including that of our board member, Jim Fields of Oliver Wyman. Because of their support and volunteerism, our programs reach hundreds of additional JA students each year" says Laura Cebula, Associate Director of Communications and Development at JA.

Thank you again to MMC and all of their employee volunteers for empowering the future with JA!

 

Pushing Buttons

This post was written by Samantha Kent, a JA volunteer from Allstate Insurance Company.

I volunteered in Ms. Pierce’s 4th grade class as part of Allstate’s JA in a Day at Lewis School of Excellence in Chicago this month.  I know running a school can be incredibly challenging, but what I saw above all else in my classroom and throughout the day was a group of children who were grateful for their school, who respected their teacher and the adults in that building, who knew what was expected of them, and tried their hardest to live up to those expectations.

In short, I was amazed.

IMG_6349I spend a week every summer at a camp for children with life threatening illnesses and chronic diseases. We get a lot of campers from inner city Maryland/DC and inner city Philadelphia. There is so much of their lives that I can’t relate to nor begin to understand, but every summer, our camp director helps by reminding us that it is a child’s job to push your buttons, to make you mad, and to annoy you, and it is our job, as adults (and educators as is the case with Lewis Elementary), to let them. They can’t grow and develop unless they push the boundaries. But what’s pivotal to their successful development is that structure and boundaries are created and enforced in return. If we can direct their “pushes,” there is hope that they will begin to forge the right path on their own.

The school and the class teacher I was paired with, in particular, exudes this sentiment. I was amazed at how well the teacher managed his students, how well he knew them and responded to their behavior. What amazed me even more was his ability to discipline the students and in the next breath build them up and redirect them. He treated them as human beings, as individuals with control over the choices that they make, providing boundaries to make those choices and giving them options, and challenging them to pick the best one.

I felt like I was watching the students grow and change right before my eyes.

I could go on gushing about my experience, but I might never stop so I will conclude with, probably, the most important takeaways I had from my volunteer experience. I grew up in Newtown, Connecticut and was very personally affected by what happened in my town in December 2012. I have not set foot in an elementary school since and was not prepared for how that would affect me walking through the halls of Lewis Elementary. But from the first teacher we met (a 6th grade teacher who was so incredibly funny, positive, and kind) to stepping foot in the classroom, I felt so safe, so grounded, and so welcomed.

My day ended with some incredible questions from a 4th grader named Jazzi (Jazzilyn). After asking the students to share with me what they had learned or what they enjoyed most about the day, she raised her hand and asked me questions that no adult has ever asked me! And I must share – because I believe they are a direct reflection of not only the schooling they are getting, but the environment Lewis Elementary's staff have created for them as well. She asked me: “When you were preparing to find a job, how did you decide, how did you pick a company like Allstate?; “What kind of problems do you solve? Like, in your job, when you’re at work, what problems do you work on every day?”

I was dumbfounded by the intelligence behind these questions. They were beyond anything an adult or peer has ever asked me – and let me remind you, Jazzi is 10.

I hope Allstate and Lewis Elementary partner up again – I cannot wait to return. Until then, I know I’ll be talking about this for as long as people will let me! The Lewis staff are superheroes.

JA Alumni Spotlight: Ken Koger

3854946Ken Koger is an entrepreneur and financial advisor in Chicago. He was a student in the JA Company Program in Pendleton, Indiana in the early 1980s. He and his classmates met at a JA Center after school in Anderson, Indiana. JA Centers were commonplace before JA expanded to in-school programming. The JA Company Program was the first program JA offered when the organization was founded in 1919 and serves as the JA capstone program today.

 

The program introduces students to the key elements involved in organizing and operating a business, while empowering them to solve problems and address local needs through the entrepreneurial spirit. Volunteers lead high school students through the semester-long program, from business inception through liquidation.

Ken and his business partners developed a Monopoly game for their town, called Anderson Madopoly. The group sold spaces on the game board to area businesses to offset production costs. Delco Remy (now Remy International) volunteered to lead the students through the program and even allowed the students to produce the game pieces on the equipment at their factory.

The students produced the game close to the holidays to capitalize on the busy sales season and the first batch they produced sold out right away. The business received local media attention for their unique product, as local Monopoly games had not been popularized.

"I just had a fabulous JA experience," says Ken. In fact, he is still close friends with many of the other students from the business.

Every student has a role in the JA Company Program. Ken was the Vice President and helped the business set sales records for JA. Ken was even selected to travel to Cincinnati for JA conference.

"I learned so much about being an entrepreneur...it stuck with me all these years," Ken reflected, "entrepreneurship has been an underlying theme in my career and JA gave me that foundation."

Ken went to Ball State University and studies telecommunications and marketing. He enjoyed the production side of telecommunications and received enough contract work after graduation that he was able to start his own business.

After ten years, Ken sold his company and opened his own life insurance agency, another entrepreneurial venture. He then went back to school to become a financial adviser. Today, he is a Financial Advisor with Ziegler Wealth Management in Chicago. He still has his hand in entrepreneurship and is in the funding phase of  launching an e-commerce business for which he is the founder and CEO.

"You will work harder for yourself than anyone else," he says, " and JA gave me the courage to work for myself."

Allstate Volunteers Impact 3,4000+ Students

Tom, Roger & Timothy 10.6.16

Junior Achievement of Chicago is excited to thank The Allstate Foundation for their 2016 $100,000 grant. This grant brought JA programs to 200 classrooms impacting over 3,400 students.

The Allstate Foundation offers several grant programs to support charitable organizations where Allstate agency owners and employees volunteer. The Foundation invests in the local efforts of our Allstate’s agency owners and employees, who are passionate about their communities and have a keen understanding of what they need most. In 2015, Allstate, together with its employees, agency owners and The Allstate Foundation gave $36 million to nonprofits across the nation and volunteered more than 250,000 hours. Since their founding in 1952, they've  contributed more than $400 million.

 

"The Allstate Foundation is a wonderful supporter of JA and their gift to JA made, and will continue to make, an impact on so many JA students," said Tom Staab, SVP of Development at Junior Achievement of Chicago.

The Allstate Foundation's gift benefited students in the following towns:

Arlington Heights

Buffalo Grove

Chicago

Chicago Ridge

Downers Grove

Morton Grove

Mount Prospect

Niles

Northbrook

Palatine

Prospect Heights

Waukegan

Westmont

Wheeling

Pictured are JA Board Members Tom Clarkson (left), President West Territory at Allstate Insurance, and Roger Odle (right), Field Senior Vice President at Allstate Insurance Company, with a JA student.

McDonald's Corporation Empowers the Future!

Last year, long-time JA partner firm McDonald's renewed their annual gift with JA, bringing JA programs to 100 classrooms. To add to the generous financial support, McDonald’s employees volunteered in 148 JA classrooms and reached 3,068 JA students in the local community. JA’s current Area Board member is Bob Stewart (Corporate Vice President, Global Supply Chain Services) and his leadership has been an integral part of McDonald’s 2016-2017 JA involvement.

Former JA Area Board member Susan Forsell (V.P. of Sustainability) and current JA DuPage County Divisional Board member Mark Grippando (Senior Director of US IT Supplier Management and Procurement) spearhead a leadership team to attract additional supporters. The JA leadership team is comprised of McDonald’s business leaders who represent a wide range of backgrounds and professional expertise. In addition to Forsell and Grippando, this group included Jana Midlock, Mary Lou Douglas, Linda Bartlett, Gregory Miller and Joan Ruedel. Bringing a great wealth of wisdom, insight and experience, this dedicated team provides a hands-on approach to positioning JA as a leader in economic education and volunteerism within McDonald’s. Together, they recruited 53 McDonald’s volunteers to participate in 148 classrooms during the school year, a 58 class increase from the previous school year.

Thank you McDonald's for empowering the future!

McDonalds

JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT OF CHICAGO RECEIVES 2016 PEAK PERFORMANCE TEAM AWARD  

National Award Recognizes Superior Performance across Key Metrics

Junior Achievement USA® (JA) has recognized the staff and board of directors of Junior Achievement of Chicago with the 2015-16 Peak Performance Team Award. The Peak Performance Team Award was created to recognize outstanding performance by a local Junior Achievement office team during the past fiscal year.

To qualify for the award, a JA Area office had to demonstrate a strong financial position and positive student growth. Recipients recognized with the award have achieved the highest combined level of student growth, increased market share and total revenue growth.

“The board of directors and staff of Junior Achievement of Chicago are proud to receive this recognition for working for a cause we feel passionate about— giving students knowledge and skills in financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship,” said Sandy Daffé, President of Junior Achievement of Chicago.

During the 2015-2016 school year, Junior Achievement of Chicago reached 554,742 students in 12 counties.

Calling All Veterans!

Junior Achievement of Chicago invites you to participate in the opportunity to share with students information about your education, career and military experience.  We are seeking veterans to serve as volunteers to deliver workshops on branding, leadership & service, interviewing skills, the importance of soft skills and staying in school. Please consider any of the opportunities below.

Thank you to the McCormick Foundation for sponsoring these programs!

Friday, February 24, 2017 from 9:30-1:30 pm (lunch break in this time; volunteers can participate in one-hour increments if needed)

Robert Morris University – JROTC High School JA in a Day with Work Readiness Workshops at 401 S. State Street, Chicago, IL 60605

Note: This is JA’s 1st Annual JROTC/Armed Forces Day.  We will have JROTC high school students from various high schools across Chicago participating.

 

Friday, February 24, 2017 from 9:00-12:00 pm (in class presentations; volunteers can participate in one-hour increments if needed)

Funston Elementary - JA Reverse Job Shadow (career day) at 2010 N. Central Park Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647

Note: Clemente Academy High School JROTC students will volunteer on the same day

 

Friday, February 24, 2017 from 9:00-12:00 pm (in class presentations; volunteers can participate in one-hour increments if needed)

Chopin Elementary - JA Reverse Job Shadow (career day) Day at 2450 N. Rice Street, Chicago, IL 60622

Note: Phoenix Military Academy High School students will volunteer on the same day

 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017 from 9:00-12:00 pm (in class presentations; volunteers can participate in one-hour increments if needed)

Prieto Elementary - JA Reverse Job Shadow (career day) Day at 2231 N. Central Avenue, Chicago, IL 60639

Note: Prosser High School JROTC students will volunteer on the same day

 

If you are interested in participating or have any questions, please contact Maria at mramos@jachicago.org. To learn more about JA Chicago, please visit our website at www.jachicago.org.

JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT ADDS A TWIST TO THE PHRASE “BACK TO SCHOOL”

Volunteer returns to Greenwood Elementary and presents JA lessons to students

This article was written by longtime JA associate, Rob Wick.

57281765When Heidi Smithson, SVP/Group Head of Commercial Real Estate at First Midwest Bank, recruited employee volunteers to present Junior Achievement of Chicago (JA) programs to students at Greenwood Elementary in Waukegan she decided to reach out to one of her company’s business partners, Gary Wool, to participate.

“I knew Gary had attended Greenwood as a child,” said Heidi. “Gary was an experienced JA volunteer and would be a great role model for students at his former school.”

Wool had previously presented JA programs to students at Jack Benny Junior High and Waukegan High School, also schools that he had attended as a youth. But Greenwood was special as it was in the neighborhood where he grew up. Gary reminisced, “On the morning of the event, I parked a block away in front of my childhood home on Glendenning Place and walked to school just as I did four decades ago.”

Jane Lambiris, the school’s Assistant Principal, chatted with Wool when he first came to volunteer. “I discovered that his father had been a doctor in the area for some forty years and delivered babies – including me and my two brothers!”

Wool didn’t follow in his father’s footsteps career wise. His company, Wool Finance Partners LLC, provides real estate financial brokerage services to commercial real estate owners and sells and invests in commercial real estate. JA programs encourage volunteers to share their career experience as well as the educational path they took to get there. He noted that, “By doing this, I feel the students could believe that they too could succeed in their career aspirations.”

Wool said that the students were excited when they learned that he had attended Greenwood. He shared his fifth grade classroom photo with them – only one of the twenty-four fifth graders could identify him. They asked if any of his teachers were still at Greenwood. There aren’t any left of course, but Gary was happy to accept that the students thought he was young enough that there might be!

JA Receives Grant from the DuPage Foundation

Junior Achievement of Chicago was one of 26 not-for-profit organizations to receive a grant at the DuPage Foundation’s Holiday Open House held on Tuesday, December 13, at the Foundation’s office in Downers Grove.  The DuPage Foundation awarded more than $207,000 in grants to organizations working in the areas of Arts & Culture, Education and the Environment as part of its Fall Community Needs Grant Cycle.  The grant will help underwrite JA programming in Addison schools.

junior-achievement

“Our Community Needs Grant Program supports local not-for-profit organizations that are dedicated to enriching DuPage County,” said Barb Szczepaniak, Foundation vice president for programs.  “We are very thankful to the many local not-for-profit board members, staff and volunteers who manage and administer the impactful programs that contribute to helping make our community strong, vibrant, and culturally- and environmentally-rich.  In addition, we would like to thank our donors who have invested in the Foundation.  It is their generosity that makes our support possible.”

Community Needs grants are primarily awarded based on earnings from the Foundation’s unrestricted and field-of-interest funds.  Additionally, during the selection process, the Foundation offers representatives of its donor-advised funds the opportunity to review the grant applications that it receives through its Community Needs Grant Program.  It does this to inform local donors about the needs in the community, introduce them to the many organizations that apply to the Foundation, and to engage them in helping the Foundation increase the level of grant support that it provides through the grant process.

About the DuPage Foundation

The DuPage Foundation seeks to raise the quality of life throughout DuPage County by fostering philanthropy, connecting donors to area needs and building community partnerships.  Based on the American virtues of volunteerism and philanthropy, the Foundation fosters a legacy of support for the people of DuPage County by making grants to not-for-profit organizations working in the areas of Arts and Culture, Education, the Environment, Health, and Human Services.  Since its inception, the Foundation has built its endowment to more than $65 million and awarded nearly $30 million in grants to not-for-profit agencies serving the residents of DuPage County and beyond.

Currently celebrating its 30th Anniversary, the DuPage Foundation was established in 1986 and is a publicly-supported 501(c)(3) organization to which contributions are tax deductible.  It was created to benefit the people of DuPage County and receives contributions and bequests into a permanent endowment from individuals, corporations, organizations and foundations wishing to make lasting contributions to the people of DuPage.  The earnings on these funds are then used, in accordance with donor wishes, for the Foundation’s grantmaking and community leadership activities.

For more information about the Foundation, please contact William Pearch, marketing manager, at 630.598.5290, or bill@dupagefoundation.org.

Volunteer Spotlight: Jessica LaShawn

aaeaaqaaaaaaaakjaaaajge5mmezmdiylwu3mwetndexni1hmtdhlte2zwqzyzbjodi0yg

 

Jessica LaShawn is a blogger and founder of Mogul Academy,  an organization that assists underserved youth around the globe with specific interests in philanthropy and business. She recently volunteered at East Village Youth Program as part of JA Entrepreneurship Month in November.

What prompted you to get involved? I love engaging students and sharing my story to inspire youth.

Why do you think programs like JA are important for today's youth? Programs like this allow youth to see physical examples of success and greatness. I never knew certain things were possible until I met someone that wasn't afraid to take a chance and they became successful afterwards.

How did you feel when you started teaching in a JA classroom? I love sharing my story and giving advice on how to use your gifts. Sadly, society focuses more on everyone's flaws and less on everyone's talents. Teaching this allowed me to show that everyone has a gift!

What do you hope the students remember from their JA experience? All passion and talent is profitable!

Would you want to volunteer with JA again in the future? YES, because the program is awesome!

Thank you, Jessica, for volunteering with JA and inspiring youth!

First Impressions

First time JA volunteer Nikki Toro and first year Hawthorn Elementary South teacher Stacie Brettner bring Junior Achievement lessons to first graders.

This article was written by longtime JA associate, Rob Wick.

cdw_hawthorn_2016First impressions are important. Just ask Nikki Toro, Technology Business Development Manager at CDW in Lincolnshire, who first learned about volunteering for Junior Achievement (JA) at a year-end luncheon and decided to give it a try in a first grade class at nearby Hawthorn Elementary South. “I was nervous going in – afraid of six year olds” said Nikki, “wasn’t sure what they would ask, if they’d be interested or if I’d be talking over their heads.”

Stacie Brettner discovered JA programs for the first time this fall too. She began her adventure at Hawthorn South this year when she was hired to teach first grade shortly before the school year started. “I was excited to start teaching at the school where my kids attend.” Her colleagues at the school opened up their classrooms to JA as they have in previous years, and she decided to as well.

Both Nikki and Stacie understand and appreciate the value of bringing real world concepts to first grade students. Stacie notes that “JA helps my students understand that there is something to work and strive for outside of school. They learn that even six and seven year olds play a part in the community.” Exposure to concepts like money and business is what drove Nikki to support the program.

Nikki was astonished at how much technology there was in a first grade classroom. “We sell it at CDW, but it’s a different story to see it in action. It’s easy to understand how it’s so helpful for the kids to consume their environment and it makes perfect sense to use the tools they know to help teach them.” JA programs are already migrating toward using more technology in upper grade levels and lower grade lessons will include it as well in the near future.

The students grasped most of the concepts quickly given that it was the first time many of them had been exposed to them. Their responses were well thought out; even when they weren’t entirely correct. When faced with the dilemma of a dog being a want or a need, one boy selected the latter because it helps keep you safe when you’re scared. In another lesson, students had to determine if businesses offered goods, services or both. “They were better than I anticipated at justifying their answers," noted Nikki.

Both Nikki and Stacie noticed that the students loved talking about the businesses as they gathered around the map and decided where to place them upon it. “Creating their own neighborhood was the most impactful lesson as the students really had to think about where to place things within their community," observed Stacie.

Hawthorn South first grade student Rehana tries to guess the occupation that Nikki is holding above her head using clues from her classmates

Nikki, whose job at CDW involves implementing technology training effectiveness, commented that “teaching kids is a lot like teaching adults – they all have world views that they pull context from, they all want to contribute and show you what they know, and you have to work to maintain their focus and keep them engaged in what you’re teaching.” Stacie felt it was nice to see students pull examples from their home life into all the lessons, saying, “The students really enjoyed JA and learning about the world outside of the school’s walls.”

Everyone was sad when the last of the five lessons concluded. Nikki noted that the students retained what they had learned in each of the previous weeks and that “the lessons were very clearly laid out, easy to understand and allowed for a lot of flexibility to draw from work experience to help relate to the class." Stacie thought it was nice to see the students pull examples from their home life into all the lessons, saying, “this was a wonderful first experience with JA and I will definitely do it again."

Looks like the first impressions of JA for Stacie and Nikki will lead to many more JA lessons in the future!

 

students-teacher-edited

Zurich Board Member Goes Above and Beyond!

This post was written by JA Director of Operations, Christine Germino.

terry-mccaffertyThis summer, Terry McCafferty, joined Junior Achievement of Chicago’s Area Board. During his board orientation, Terry mentioned that he had never volunteered with Junior Achievement, but he was interested in volunteering in a classroom in the future.

 

 

In the meeting, Terry saved Zurich’s new whole school sponsored JA in a Day date in his phone.  The JA in a Day was set for November 4, and we were beginning to plan the day and secure volunteers for the 22 classrooms at Winston Campus Elementary in Palatine. Throughout the next few months, Terry attended the Zurich-JA Leadership Team Meeting and offered his support securing volunteers.  Terry attended a new volunteer training session and seemed eager to teach in the 5th/6th Grade Advanced classroom at the school.  Two weeks before the event, we still had 12 classes open!

The Zurich-JA Leadership Team Members and I became extremely nervous about filling this whole school JA in a Day.  Over the next week, I exchanged several emails with Terry and his assistant, Kim.  In less than a week, Terry managed to secure volunteers for 9 classrooms at the school, and every volunteer was a new volunteer to JA!  With just days before the event, we scheduled a lunch training at Zurich for the new sign-ups.  Terry ordered pizza, salad and beverages for 20 new volunteers.

During the one hour training session, the volunteers learned about JA, explored the program and asked several questions.  I am happy to say that the event was a total success! Winston Campus Elementary has participated in JA programs for the past 10 years.  The principals and teachers all agreed that this was the best JA in a Day yet!

The success of the JA in a Day was due to the support of the Zurich-JA Leadership Team, the enthusiasm from the Zurich volunteers and the leadership of Terry McCafferty.  Without his guidance and effort, the school would have experienced an event where volunteers were only secured for half of the school.  I am grateful for Terry for helping us recruit volunteers and his willingness to teach a class at the JA in a Day.

The school was so impressed with the Zurich volunteers that they have been invited to participate in the school’s “Enrichment Days” in February 2017.  Immediately following this year’s JA in a Day, the principal reached out to me to confirm the school’s JA in a Day with Zurich in Fall 2017! Terry’s willingness to help recruit and his positive personality helped make this an incredible experience for the school and for JA!

JA Scholarships Empower the Future

This post was written by JA Operations Manager Sarah Wellner.

colonel-henry-crown-winnersJunior Achievement has always been a positive experience for me - from the time I was in 6th grade and had a Junior Achievement volunteer in my classroom to being a JA employee! JA has provided me with the opportunity to learn from so many people and to give back to the Chicago area community that I grew up in.

 

One of my favorite experiences working at JA was serving on the Scholarship Committee. The scholarship applications that were submitted were so impressive and it was amazing to see how JA has influenced so many young people’s lives in such a profound way.

I read about stories from students who wanted to use the skills they learned during Junior Achievement to impact the world by starting their own businesses, volunteering, networking, and bettering their communities. They dreamed of creating a successful future so that they could support their families and be the best version of themselves. They aspired to become community role models and global leaders. They told stories of how they learned through JA how to create plans for their future and control their educational and career path through financial literacy.

I had never felt so proud to work for Junior Achievement than I did at the Scholarship Awards Ceremony. Students were awarded scholarships anywhere between $1,000-$40,000. Seeing such dedicated young students and future leaders who were so invested in JA and grateful for their JA experience was truly incredible.

Being able to really see the long standing value that students gain from having  JA volunteers in their classroom put everything we do here at JA into perspective. It was certainly an experience to watch students dreams come true at the scholarship ceremony. Students who never thought they would have the opportunity to go to college suddenly had their lives changed forever. It’s moments like this that make me feel grateful to work for an organization that is changing the world.

Junior Achievement’s Chicago Business Hall of Fame Brings Students and Business Executives Together

This post was written by Mattie Schaffer, JA's Manager of Special Events.

cbhfEvery fall Junior Achievement hosts the Chicago Business Hall of Fame where topnotch business professionals are inducted and celebrated. This year, JA honored four outstanding laureates who have not only shaped the Chicagoland business community through their dedication to free enterprise, but who have also had an impact on society through their dedication to community service.

A unique aspect of this event is the opportunity it gives JA students to see firsthand the success of each laureate’s career. Every laureate is introduced by a student speaker before accepting their award. These students are handpicked by JA for their leadership, school involvement and speaking skills. Each student is paired with an inductee.

The Hall of Fame event gives the students an opportunity that most of them wouldn’t have otherwise. While their peers might have spent the night doing homework or watching TV, these students hung out with CEOs, business executives and established entrepreneurs.

Kenneth Rogers is a senior at the Air Force Academy.  He is a member of National Honors Society and has a grade point average of 4.02.  A week before the event, Kenneth was commissioned as Cadet Brigadier General which is the highest ranking cadet in the city of Chicago JROTC program. Kenneth introduced James Skinner who is the Executive Chairman at Walgreens Boots Alliance and former CEO of McDonald’s. Mr. Skinner also served in the U.S. Navy for 10 years giving him and Kenneth a unique connection.

Nia Robinson is an ambitious 11th grade student at Jones College Preparatory High School. She is involved in various after school programs and is President of her school’s Key Club. Nia introduced Bryan Cressey, Co-Founder and Partner at Cressey & Company LP. Being involved in Junior Achievement’s Company Program exposed Nia to the world of entrepreneurship, and after hearing Mr. Cressey’s story, Nia might someday become an entrepreneur herself!

Leeah McCorker is a 7th grader at Genevive Melody Public School. She is also a member of the Off The Street Club, a boys and girls club that serves youth in West Garfield Park. Leeah introduced Betsy Holden, who is a Senior Advisor with McKinsey and Company, former Co-CEO of Kraft Foods, Inc. and President of Off The Street Club. Ms. Holden has impacted Leeah’s life through her work with Off The Street Club and her and Leeah share a special bond that was inspiring to see at the event.

Yuriksy Caballero is a 5th grader at Raymond Ellis Elementary School, and was the youngest student speaker. Her favorite subjects are reading and math. Yurisky has enjoyed having JA programming in her classroom.  She introduced Robert Parkinson, Chairman Emeritus of Baxter International and former JA Area Board Chairman. Yurisky was extra excited to meet Mr. Parkinson because Baxter has sponsored her elementary school with JA programs every year since 2003!

The Chicago Business Hall of Fame was a great night for each laureate and their families, but the experience each student speaker walked away with will be one they remember for the rest of their lives.  Not only does JA provide special opportunities like this for students, but every JA program helps students realize that one day they can start their own business like Bryan Cressey, be the CEO of a major corporation like James Skinner and Robert Parkinson, become the first woman CEO of a company like Betsy Holden, or do whatever they set their minds to.

One Volunteer, 2,800 Students Impacted!

Dan Blocker is one of DuPage’s best volunteers. Since 2006, he has personally mentored over 125 classrooms, empowering over 2,800 students!

57449308

Dan had originally started off with teaching one class, but his impact in the classroom soon spread, to 5th grade teachers across the District requesting this true role model! And then when a 5th grade teacher moved to 3rd grade, his participation continued to grow. He truly makings long lasting partnerships with each teacher that he works with. JA would not be able to be as successful without true community leaders like Dan Blocker. Here is why he volunteers:

“Volunteering over the past 10 years or so with JA has been a very gratifying part of my life. I always consider it a privilege any time a teacher invites me into a classroom and entrusts me with nearly an hour’s worth of valuable time. A rough count shows I’ve done over 600 individual sessions of classroom instruction – and honestly, never a bad one amongst them. Thanks to Junior Achievement and their solid reputation, I’m set up not just to succeed but to flourish.

JA provides a structured format and materials for each session and grade level. However, the greatest benefit as I see it, is they encourage each volunteer to draw upon their own individual experience, talents and personality. After all, the point is not just to teach topical concepts and key terms. A JA volunteer is so much more. You are ultimately a role model: attitude, appearance, energy, enthusiasm, sense of humor and skill at communicating are all on full display. Inspiring a classroom, or even a few of the students, is not an easy proposition. But when accomplished, no greater sense of joy exists.

I’ve been fortunate over the years to pair up with so many wonderful teachers. They are the noble heroes of our society. I’ve also had many instances of gratification – so numerous I can’t recall all of them. One recent moment I can relate happened about a year ago.

After finishing the five weekly sessions of fifth grade JA Our Nation, the students as they often do, gave me hand written notes of thanks. One, from a girl of 10 or 11, caught my attention that afternoon as I read each one in the stack. We had spent the week before discussing their future and the things they might love to do down the road as a career. She wrote: Thank you for being our volunteer! Because of you, I now know my passion in life. You are an amazing person. You drive from far away, you’re not getting paid, and you like doing it. I really look up to you as a role model. Thank you for teaching us.

That’s why I volunteer with Junior Achievement.”

Mars Ambassadors Volunteer in Chicago Schools

This post was written by Natalie Albrecht, Director of Special Events and Development for JA.

We welcomed 8 volunteers from Mars, Inc., who were a part of the Mars Ambassadors Program, and volunteered in 18 classes in 4 days during their visit here – more than 500 students were impacted! Additionally, they gave education and career advice to 4 Robert Morris University business school classes.

The 8 volunteers were from across the globe, and were chosen out of hundreds of applications from Mars employees to participate in the week-long program. They came to the JA office on Monday, October 10th and received volunteer training, information about CPS, and instructions for getting around Chicago. The rest of the week, they were at schools, some days they visited 2 schools in 1 day.

They were incredible! They were excited every day, and worked with students of all age groups. They were very flexible, particularly since we didn’t know where they would be volunteering because of the potential CPS strike (we gave them their full schedule on Tuesday, their first day!). From my memory and knowledge, I don’t think we’ve ever had a group of volunteers, volunteer consecutively like this in one week.

They said of their week here, they loved working with all of the different grades and ages of students. The kindergartners were adorable, but they resoundingly agreed that their time with the high school students (particularly ASPIRA High School) was what they felt had the most impact. They loved the JA Reverse Job Shadow program, not only for its ease of engagement, but they felt this really allowed them to add "their own mark" on the volunteer experience. They said they spent nearly as much time preparing their remarks for the panel as they did the kits.

They were so impressed with the majority of the classroom teachers and said for the "terrible things they've heard of the American education system," this week proved that all wrong, and they felt these were the best teachers they had ever seen. They all felt that the week really offered terrific personal developments as well - public speaking, flexibility, and teamwork.

 

JA Programs Come to Proviso Township High Schools

This post was written by JA Operations Manager Asia Ousley.

78753178

 

I have the pleasure of working in the area that includes my high school Alma mater, Proviso East High School in Maywood, Illinois. When I was a student more than 10 years ago, there was no Junior Achievement programming.  We didn’t engage in job shadows with local businesses, nor were there any career days to expose students to a variety of careers. Its been a personal goal of mine to bring all of these things and more to my Alma mater.

 

What is really special to me is to be able to bring Proviso East High School alumni back to speak to classrooms about their life and career journey. One of my fellow alumni relayed to me that I had fulfilled a dream of his by having him speak to a class of students. There are so many volunteers who want to give back and provide a meaningful impact for students in ways that were not available to them.

In less than a year, I have been able to bring over 80 business professionals to Proviso Township High Schools to speak about their careers to more than 250 classes. Almost a dozen volunteers have been able to deliver the Be Entrepreneurial, Career Success, Titan, and Personal Finance programs to several different classes. More than 150 students will have participated in the High School Heroes program for the 2nd year this school year, developing students to be leaders, better communicators and engaged citizens in the community they live! I was even able to get Junior Achievement wrote into the curriculum at Proviso Township High Schools. Beginning this 2016–2017 school year, ALL freshmen students will complete two JA programs in their freshmen support classes - JA It’s My Future and JA Career Success.

This guarantees that all freshmen will be exposed to different careers that match their interest, will create short, mid and long term college and career plans, and learn the skills and tips necessary to be successful in their careers. This is what matters to me! Junior Achievement has truly made my transition from corporate accounting to the nonprofit sector all the worthwhile! I am passionate and inspired to be a resource to my community and pave the way for my successors – lifting as I climb. I absolutely love my job and the positive impact I have been able to make in such a short time. Junior Achievement has given me a platform to make a difference and I will forever be grateful for that!

Clark High School Heroes Make a Difference

This post was written by JA Operations Manager Katie Hobgood.

20161123_143828This fall semester, we were able to begin implementing a truly impactful initiative in Hammond, Indiana. Through a partnership with the School City of Hammond school district, JA programs will be taught in every 8th, 11th and 12th grade classroom in Hammond, Indiana this school year. One of those schools participating is George Rogers Clark Middle/High School (aka Clark).

 

 

On October 25th, Junior Achievement volunteers presented “JA Career Success” to 13 classrooms of juniors and seniors at Clark. What the Clark students didn’t know was that there was a second part to the High School event. Certain students would be chosen to participate in JA themselves as a JA High School Hero.

We decided to not automatically send the honor roll kids- we wanted to give every Clark student a chance! To do this, we left it up to the JA volunteers. While implementing “JA Career Success” to the juniors and seniors, we asked our volunteers to pay attention to who was really engaged and participating, and at the end of their JAID, each volunteer selected 2 students from their class that stood out.

As I sat with my Clark contact going over the list of students, she was shocked at who’d been selected. Sure, there were some students she’d expected to be on there, but at least half of the names where students that she did not expect!

In the end, 15 juniors and seniors from Clark High School were able to participate in the JA High School Heroes program at the neighboring Franklin Elementary School. They worked with the Kindergarten-2nd grade classes, and had a FANTASTIC time!

As I watched them in action in the elementary classrooms, I felt extremely proud to be a part of Junior Achievement. This was a life changing experience for many of these Clark students. First, they were told by a complete stranger that they had earned the privilege to participate, based on their behaviors. Then they were trusted with a lot of responsibility while preparing. Finally, they got to experience that warm fuzzy feeling our volunteers love so much when you give selflessly and help impact youth.

I know that JA programs have a number of wonderful benefits, but one of the challenging things is that most of the time we are only planting the seeds for many of those benefits, and we don’t get to see them bloom. I often see first hand that our programs educate students on financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship, but this was the first time I saw it impact self esteem and self worth. It was an incredible experience from beginning to end, and I can’t wait to do it again in the spring!

 

My JA Story: Mia Baker

This blog post was written by 2016 JA Scholarship Winner, Mia Baker from Valparaiso, Indiana.

mia-bakerWhere there is knowledge, I believe there is a power to succeed. With the gift of education comes the responsibility to contribute to our ever-changing society, and my contribution continues in my enrollment at Ball State University.

My first semester at BSU has been a time with a steep learning curve. Through several projects, classes, and professors I gained knowledge and a passion to learn more. I have a strong longing to fill my head with the intricate details that accompany new ideas. I desire to stumble upon solutions and take advantage of the information that sits on my fingertips. I want to stretch my mind, challenge my thoughts, and consistently gain new perspectives about the world around me.

Through my degree in Architecture, I will prepare myself to contract or design affordable housing for families in dire need with conscious protection of the environment. My dream would be to live and serve in areas that are recovering from devastating natural disasters, as well as cities and villages stuck within the vicious cycle of poverty.

Junior Achievement has helped me tremendously in understanding how to transform my high school habits into professional ones. Understanding these concepts are crucial but applying and acting upon them is even more beneficial. JA helped teach me responsibilities that are expected in the work place, and those skills have transferred into collegiate habits. The financial relief that I have received through my Junior Achievement scholarship has been an incredible privilege. The stress relief tremendously helps me to completely dedicate my time to my school work. I can better budget and save money with the help of my JA scholarship.

Junior Achievement taught me how to become more of a professional, how to connect academic and community life in a world of finance and professionalism, as well as a scholarship. The financial assistance and knowledge I gained as a result of my experience with JA continues to impact my life and for this I am incredibly grateful.

Showing 1 - 20 of 184 results.
Items per Page 20
of 10

Press Releases & Media 

JA USA® Press Releases


Media Center

Facebook



Twitter

  • "Junior Achievement has given me a sense of what adults go through with budget issues."

    -Junior Achievement Student
  • "Junior Achievement reinforced concepts for me to remember later in life."

    -Junior Achievement Student
  • "I thought the experience was amazing. The presentation was unlike anything I've seen."

    -Junior Achievement Student
  • "I liked how the Junior Achievement volunteer explained his job to us."

    -Junior Achievement Student

Get Involved!

Junior Achievement
of Chicago

Donate Now    Volunteer
Form
    Request a
Program


If you would like more information on Donating, Volunteering, JA Programs, or other ways to partner with us, please give us a call at (312) 715-1300 or email us!