JA In The News | Junior Achievement of Chicago

JA is Really Newsworthy!

Chicago-area Student Companies Compete in Washington DC

[caption id="attachment_2095" align="alignleft" width="600"]Junior Achievement 2013 Leadership Summit Chicago-area team from Manteno High School won 3rd place in the competition.[/caption]

In Washington D.C., 15 teams of JA Company Program® students from across the country recently competed for the title of JA Company of the Year, for the NYSE Euronext Foundation’s Best Financial Performance Award, for the FedEx Access Award and for the Social Media Award. Two Chicago area teams, one from the Kankakee Area Career Center and the other from Manteno High School, competed in this year's national championship!

The students participated in a trade fair on Capitol Hill attended by 15 Members of Congress and nearly 200 Congressional staffers. Each team also made a formal presentation to the judges, created an annual report and a commercial showcasing their products, and were interviewed by the judging panel comprised of business executives representing many prominent companies.

About the Chicago-area Companies:

Chalk-a-lot, the company from Kankakee Area Center, produces hand-crafted, chalkboard-painted items made from recycled glass and wood for home decor, decorating, or unique gifts.  Chalk-a-lot members include Deric Hanners of Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School, Vice President of Production; Diamond Fairrow of BBCHS, Vice President of Finance;  Aliyah Johnson of BBCHS, and Vice President of Human Resources and Marketing.

The Tricksters , the company from Manteno High School, created a product that is a set of three sticks, called Tricksticks, which are two hand sticks and one larger stick that is juggled between the two hand sticks. The Tricksters includes these members: Jack Liss, President; John Hofmeister, Vice President of Marketing; Matt Werner, Vice President of Production; Maren Wiltshire, Vice President of Human Resources; Dakota Medland, Vice President of Finance;  and Sarah Daly, Vice President of Public Relations.

You can see photos from the event on Junior Achievement USA’s Facebook page here.

Here is a recap of the winning teams from the national competition:

  • JA Company of the Year: Custom Coasters from JA of Georgia
  • Second place: Stay Hot from JA of Delaware Valley
  • Third place: Tricksters representing JA of Chicago
  • NYSE Euronext Foundation Best Financial Performance Award: Custom Coasters
  • FedEx Access Award: Dream Green representing JA of Southeast Texas
  • Social Media Award: Swipe ID from JA of Southern California

The other participating student teams include:

  • Chalk-A-Lot: JA of Chicago
  • Designspire: JA of the Upper Midwest
  • Excel: JA of Southeast Texas
  • Looped, and OTH Clothing: JA of Northern California
  • Pocket Pouch: JA of Georgia
  • Re-Boxed: JA of San Diego
  • Rider Dye: JA of Delaware
  • Statement Jewelry: JA of Memphis and the Mid-South
  • Viking Enterprises Division 12: JA of East Central Ohio

JA of Chicago is proud of our Chicago-area companies that participated in this national competition. Congratulations to both teams for your hard work and exceptional companies!

The SAP video story: volunteers making a difference

This spring, SAP participated in a JA in a Day with students from kindergarten through 8th grade at Stevenson Elementary in Melrose Park, IL.

SAP has volunteered at Stevenson Elementary School since 2008, where 87% of students come from low -income households. This year, SAP filled 37 classrooms and offered generous video production services to film firsthand experiences and feedback from these volunteers, teachers, and students.

Check out this great, compelling footage showcasing JA's mission and the difference SAP is making in the lives of students and our community!


Deloitte volunteers impact the lives of over 3,500 students

Deloitte IMPACT2

To celebrate their commitment to building stronger communities, Deloitte employees joined Junior Achievement in Deloitte's annual day of service, called IMPACT Day. Across the country, Deloitte volunteers had the opportunity to participate in more than 800 volunteer events in 80 U.S. communities on June 7th.

In Chicago, Deloitte volunteers impacted approximately 3,500 students in 156 classrooms in grade levels kindergarten through 11th grade. Volunteers taught in the following schools in Chicago:

  • Hanson Park Elementary School
  • Bateman Elementary School
  • Sir Miles Davis Magnet Elementary Academy
  • Bennett Elementary School
  • Carl Schurz High School

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="614"]Deloitte Impact Deloitte employees volunteering in classrooms throughout Chicago on IMPACT Day.[/caption]

Many thanks to Deloitte and their employees for inspiring children to work hard and understand the importance of preparing for their future!

DeVry volunteer tells us about her experience

[caption id="attachment_2044" align="alignleft" width="717"]C. Mikel Teaching - photo 1 Great picture of Christine teaching a classroom full of enthusiastic students![/caption]

Christine Mikel, Director, Community Outreach at DeVry University, has been volunteering with JA since 2011. She tells us what she enjoys most about volunteering and why she keeps coming back.

How did you learn about Junior Achievement and what prompted you to get involved?

At DeVry University we support the efforts of Junior Achievement. Our goals are similar, regardless of our students’ age – we want to educate them on financial literacy and career opportunities. Junior Achievement educates children at a young age about the economy, the importance of families and communities – all things that will help them become well rounded adults who are contributing to society in valuable ways.

In what ways are you involved as a volunteer with Junior Achievement?

I manage the volunteer efforts for 4 of our centers in the Chicagoland area. I also help coordinate the efforts of our online teams who are housed in downtown Chicago. We primarily participate in JA for a Day. In our fiscal year of 2012 we had 74 volunteers teach JA – that means we reached about 1129 students, that included 136 hours of prep time and 364 hours in the classroom.

Why do you come back to volunteer?

Working with the children is such a joy. They love to have new people come into their classrooms and help them learn. It is exhausting work but so rewarding. One of our employees recently celebrated his one year anniversary with the company and when asked about his proudest moment, he replied that it was teaching for Junior Achievement!

What do you enjoy most about your volunteer experience?

The ability to give back to our community and to a younger audience than we typically get to interact  with at the University.

What have you learned or how have you been personally affected from your experience with Junior Achievement?

I’ve learned that many people, including myself, have underestimated young children and their ability to grasp these concepts and really think about their future. I have been amazed at the excitement that they get when they imagine themselves giving back to their communities, helping their families or shaping their own future.

Do you have an inspirational story you can briefly tell about your volunteer experience?  Please share with us!

The very first classroom I taught in was kindergarten. Once I had finished for the day several kids gave me a hug and said they didn’t want me to leave and they had such a good time. It was wonderful!

Do you have any advice for individuals considering volunteering with Junior Achievement?

People are a bit wary, which is understandable – but the experience is worth it. Plus there is always a teacher in the room, so you really aren’t going to feel alone. My recommendation is to take the entire briefcase apart and really look at each activity while you’re reading through the guidebook. I mark my guidebook up with a highlighter and it helps me stay on track when teaching. It never leaves my hands! I also think it is best to reinforce with the class that you’ll be following the same etiquette rules that they have when their regular teacher is in charge. The only issue I’ve ever had is over-eager kids! They all want to participate.

19th Annual Day at the Races raises over $150,000 for JA


The 19th annual Junior Achievement of Chicago Day at the Races was a lot of fun and a great success! Over 400 attendees from 50 companies spent the day on the suite levels of Arlington Park. The event, which was moved to a Friday this year, sold out on all sponsorships.

Attendees enjoyed watching horseracing and bidding on auction items while supporting local economic education and enjoying the company of co-workers, friends, and family. In total, the event raised more than $150,000, which will enable JA to bring programs to reach thousands of students in the Chicago area.

We would like to extend special thanks to Bill Morrison of Northern Trust for serving as the event chairman and our top sponsors Northern Trust (Secretariat Sponsor), Cressey & Company LP (Penthouse Sponsor), Baxter International Inc. (Beverly D. Sponsor), and BDT Capital Partners, LLC (Arlington Sponsor.)

Many thanks to all of our fantastic sponsors and participants who made this event possible!

Read more about Day at the Races on our event page.


Smithfield Foods Learners to Leaders Event Helps Students Learn How to Plan for the Future

(via PRNewsire/New York Times)

JA 2013 Financial Literacy day 010

Students from Morton East High School attended a personal finance workshop thanks to the combined efforts of Junior Achievement, Smithfield Foods' Learners to Leaders® program and the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens.

The group of approximately 85 students took part in Junior Achievement's Personal Finance Program, which teaches young people the importance of planning, goal-setting and strategic thinking when making personal financial decisions. The event was held at Morton College and hosted by Smithfield Foods and two members of its family of companies: John Morrell and Company, and Morrell business unit Saratoga Food Specialties. The students were greeted by Cicero Town Trustee Frank Aguilar.

Junior Achievement of Chicago and Smithfield Foods' Learners to Leaders educational initiative planned the day for the students. Eighteen Saratoga employees volunteered, after receiving training from Junior Achievement personnel, to help conduct some of the workshop sessions.

"All of us at Saratoga really enjoy working with the students," said Jim Bejna, Saratoga's director of operations. "It's rewarding to help these kids develop the tools they'll need to grow and be successful in life."

Junior Achievement's Personal Finance program teaches students about budgeting, managing risk, how their daily choices affect their ability to save for the future and how to avoid common credit pitfalls, among many other valuable tips. Students learn how to save, borrow, spend and invest their earnings responsibly.

Dennis H. Treacy, Smithfield Foods' executive vice president and chief sustainability officer, said, "We feel it's our company's responsibility to strengthen the communities where we operate, and this often begins with education. Our partnership with Junior Achievement and the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens is the perfect way for us to help create promising opportunities for our young people in the Chicagoland area by improving access to quality education."

The Learners to Leaders program is a national educational alliance that teams Smithfield Foods and its independent operating companies with local educational and mentoring partners to develop individually tailored community programs to help individuals achieve educational goals. Learners to Leaders focuses on those who have the desire to succeed, but need some assistance to strengthen their skills and overcome challenges—whether academic, social or economic. These are often first-generation college-bound students, low-income, or minority individuals.

ITW volunteer says: it's never too late to become a teacher


Marsha Tolchin is a successful attorney. Throughout her busy life she has dedicated  her free time to volunteering. Marsha has been volunteering with JA since 2011, and she intends to continue.

How did you learn about Junior Achievement and what prompted you to get involved?

For many years I thought I would become a teacher like my mother so when I heard about the opportunity to volunteer time in a classroom through JA, I was very interested. I then attended an informational Lunch and Learn meeting held at ITW. I was very impressed with the JA program and was very proud and pleased to learn of ITW’s long and strong partnership with JA. By the end of the meeting I was certain I wanted to get involved.

In what ways are you involved as a volunteer with Junior Achievement?

I volunteer my time in a classroom and teach the students one of the JA programs. This year I will be returning to The Cove School in Northbrook, which educates children with complex learning disabilities. The classroom teacher, Laurie Bender, has requested the 3rd to 5th grade program “More than Money.”

Why do you come back to volunteer?

I come back to volunteer because of the kids, the teacher, and because I hope I can make even a small difference. Yet, in the end, I think I gain more from the experience than the students.

What do you enjoy most about your volunteer experience?

The experience is satisfying on a personal level because you feel you are contributing to the growth of the students, even if it is just a very little piece of their growth. Plus, I enjoy seeing the smiles on the kid’s faces when I walk in the classroom and when they let me know they’re glad to see me back.

What have you learned or how have you been personally affected from your experience with Junior Achievement?

I have learned that it’s not so easy to teach these children and to keep their attention focused on the program, despite the engaging JA curriculum. I have great respect for Ms. Bender and the teachers who are able to successfully support and educate these children so they can learn, grow and reach their full potential.

Do you have any advice for individuals considering volunteering with Junior Achievement?

My advice is simple: make the time to volunteer in a local classroom with JA. I encourage you to get involved; it is a small commitment to make. The JA representatives are terrific and make it easy to get connected with a school in your community and to help learn the JA program materials. After you volunteer, like me you’ll be asking yourself why you didn’t volunteer sooner!


Junior Achievement and Microsoft Help Prepare Chicago Area Students for the World of Work

Microsoft kids










Junior Achievement of Chicago and Microsoft announced a new collaboration as part of the Microsoft YouthSpark initiative to help local students explore careers in the technology hardware and software industries. This spring, over 65 JA Job Shadow students went to a Microsoft Store in Chicago for a day-long mentoring experience giving them a first-hand glimpse into the world of work and the opportunity to apply their classroom learning.

Through Microsoft YouthSpark, an increased number of local JA middle and high school students will participate in the JA Job Shadow program, including teacher-led classroom instruction around key work-readiness skills such as leadership, teamwork and how to conduct a successful job search. The students then visit a Microsoft Retail Store for a day-long mentoring experience.

Local participating schools are Chicago High School for the Agricultural Science (Mount Greenwood), Urban Prep Academy (Englewood), Urban Prep Academy (West), and Urban Prep Academy (Bronzeville).

“We are thrilled to partner with Microsoft to help students develop and enhance skills needed for future career pursuits,” said Maria Ramos, Vice President, City Operations.  “Through JA Job Shadow, students will learn resume writing, job interviewing and decision making, to help position them for success in the workforce.”

Students in Chicago join youth in 49 other communities across the United States to participate in the effort. Thanks to Microsoft for its generous support of our local JA Job Shadow Program.  Now more local students will learn key work-readiness skills such as leadership, teamwork and how to conduct a successful job search!


2nd Annual JA You're Hired! Program












This year on April 16th, 175 High School Students from over 10 high schools competed in various challenges in Junior Achievement’s second annual JA You’re Hired Challenge. The event this year was held at the Chicago O’Hare Marriott with the University of Phoenix serving as the presenting partner for the day.

Students selected various session topics during the day ranging from interviewing skills, business etiquette, product development, ethical decision making, budgeting, how to use social media and leadership. At the end of the day student challenge winners were awarded gift cards, sponsored by Discover Financial Services. On this day student-run JA companies competed for the title of Company of the Year as well. Eight student companies presented their business plans and results to a panel of judges. These student groups also showed off their products in our JA Company Business Expo, presented by Discover. The Company of the year for fiscal 2013 was Hometown Classics from Barrington High School sponsored by PepsiCo. This company outperformed their peers in running their nostalgic postcard company. With great leadership and support,  they delivered a great product and a healthy return to their shareholders.

JA You’re Hired could not happen without the support of some great partners who not only provided volunteers for the event but sponsored many of the sessions that the students benefited from during the day. JA would like to thank the following sponsors for helping to make this year’s event such a success:

University of Phoenix





Chicago O’Hare Marriott


AT&T Toastmasters

Vibes Media


Part 2: Your First JA Class…Tips on Classroom Management


Part 2. Let’s get started! 

(Part 1, if you missed it.)

Before you begin teaching your JA program, it's important to start the day on a positive note and help the students feel comfortable. Even if this isn't your first JA class, here are some great tips to consider when teaching:

• Arrive early, but don't interrupt if the class is in session.

• Wear business attire; look like an "expert."

• Greet the students in a friendly, yet professional manner.

• Smile, shake hands (if appropriate), and maintain eye contact.

• Give your name, and ask each student for his or her name. Use the Table Tents provided to help you learn the students' names.

• Be yourself. Talk about your early aspirations, your current job, and how you got it.

• Determine what the students already know about a concept or topic. What knowledge and experiences do they bring to the class?

How to become a good teacher?

Although the teacher is responsible for all instruction and discipline within the class, the following suggestions can help you work with the students:

• Tailor your presentation to meet the needs of the teacher and the students. Use language, examples, and analogies that the students can understand, but don't talk down to them. Avoid any use of gender, racial, or ethnic stereotypes.

• Discuss with the teacher the best way to work with students with special needs, those who have limited English language skills, or those who have difficulty reading.

• Limit lectures to no more than 5 to 10 minutes; lecture usually is the least effective of all teaching strategies.

• Define or review the main points and/or key terms on the board, an overhead transparency, a flip chart, or other visible place; keep the Key Terms posted as reminders for students.

• Wait at least 5 seconds for an answer after calling on a student. Use as many open-ended questions as possible.

• Don't answer your own questions, and avoid criticizing or rejecting wrong answers from the students.

• When particular skills are required, such as mathematical calculations, provide an example or demonstration of the process before asking the students to solve a problem.

• Frequently check for understanding by asking relevant questions.

• During the first session, explain to the students that they must live up to the group expectations to ensure the success of program activities. Share the following expectations, and remind the students of them when necessary:

o Students in each group must work together at all times.

o Everyone participates and shares her or his knowledge.

o Everyone listens with respect.

Refer to our volunteer training site for videos and more! These tips are part of a series of posts. Come back soon, we will post more classroom management tips in the near future.

Are you as smart as this year’s Money Smart kid?










Last week, Dayton Melaniphy of Fry Elementary School was announced as the Money Smart Kid of 2013 at the Money Smart Week kickoff event at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. A panel of former Money Smart kid winners also spoke at the kickoff about their experiences as winners of the competition, offering advice and their perspective on being smart with their money.

For the last several years, a committee of Money Smart Week partners has sponsored the competition for students to see if they are "Money Smart." Students in grades 5-8 compete for the opportunity to win scholarship money by answering an essay challenge question related to money management. This year, Dayton wrote the winning essay in response to the following question: What is the difference between an investment and an expense? What would be a good investment in your community and why?  Please discuss who would benefit from this investment. 

The Money Smart Kid contest winner announcement is a fun and exciting part of Money Smart Week, a week-long series of free classes and activities designed to help consumers better manage their personal finances. MSW partners, including Junior Achievement, are hosting events from April 20 – 27th. View the online calendar to see what events are occurring  near you!


Help More Kids Be Money Smart

The JA "Be Money Smart" Financial Guide in the Chicago Sun Times 

The "Be Money Smart" insert is special Money Smart Week  education section, designed as an interactive educational section for students/teachers/parents to use  as part of a financial literacy program. This insert is available online, and ran all editions of The Chicago Sun-Times last Wednesday.

Thanks to generous funding from The Allstate Foundation, JA of Chicago and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago partnered again this year with The Chicago Sun-Times to bring this financial education guide to thousands of local students.

Learn more about Money Smart Week.

Charter One celebrates Financial Literacy Month with $25,000 donation to JA

[caption id="attachment_1796" align="aligncenter" width="430"]Charter One Foundation Charter One check presentation featuring Sandy Daffé, President of Junior Achievement of Chicago and John Golden, SVP & Director of Business Banking at Charter One[/caption]

Each year, the month of April is celebrated on a national and state level as a month to help our communities achieve stronger financial footing and our children learn the basics of financial education. In celebration of the nation-wide Financial Literacy Month, Charter One presented Junior Achievement of Chicago with a $25,000 grant last week.

The Charter One Foundation’s donation will support JA’s whole school program for the upcoming school year.  The $25,000 grant will provide the volunteers and the funding necessary to cover the cost of the materials, training, servicing and recruitment of volunteers for over 40 classrooms.

Charter One has shown their support for JA’s economic education programs locally for years. Since 2006, Charter One employees have volunteered in more than 280 classrooms and impacted over 6,000 students.

This month, Charter One is also partnering with Junior Achievement to host a JA in a Day at Everett Elementary school in Chicago. Volunteers will be teaching JA programs to students from kindergarten through 5th grade in eleven classrooms.


Jones Lang LaSalle volunteer shares her story

Tanya Gonzalez, a Property Manager at Jones Lang Lasalle and JA volunteer for the past 15 years, shares her inspirational story and why she finds her JA experience so rewarding.

Question 1: How long have you been volunteering for TGonzalez_2012Junior Achievement? 15 years What year did you start volunteering? 1999

Question 2: How did you learn about Junior Achievement and what prompted you to get involved?

My previous employer, Goldman Sachs, introduced me to the opportunity to getting involved in the community.

Question 3: In what ways are you involved as a volunteer with Junior Achievement?

Initially I participated in the elementary school age career day. Now, I enjoy participating in “JA in a Day” and lunch time with the students.

Question 4: Why do you come back to volunteer?

The children and being able to at least reach one and provide positive reinforcement and encouragement.

Question 5: What do you enjoy most about your volunteer experience? The success skills lessons are transferable within the workforce, school, family etc. I like to emphasis the importance of communication and utilizing these skill assets. To be able to get junior and seniors engage is definitely rewarding and a privilege.

Question 6: What have you learned or how have you been personally affected from your experience with Junior Achievement? The hunger in these children’s eyes to want to succeed but is still so uncertain. Their drive and willingness to want better is so wonderful to see.

Question 7: Do you have an inspirational story you can briefly tell about your volunteer experience?

Although I was given the opportunity to attend great schools throughout my childhood, I was stricken with tragedy at the age of 17 years old. My father was slain execution style. I worked after school as a student janitor to pay off my high school tuition. I had the willingness to continue life and do what my father would have wanted me to do – SUCCEED! My undergrad and graduate education was non-traditionally attended. I worked full time and raised a family while attending school. I like to express my non-traditional educational background with young adults and discourage this path if possible. However, we may have personal obstacles but we must stay encouraged. We can overcome any barrier if we have the enthusiasm and dedication. My journey is not encouraged but one must always remember the walk is as challenging as one makes it to be.

Question 8: Do you have any advice for individuals considering volunteering with Junior Achievement?

The excitement and encouragement in the children’s eye is a reward in itself. It’s great to get to know the children – hear their aspiration and encourage them throughout each session/lesson with transferable success skills. It’s important to tie in their goals with each lesson plan and remember your frame of mind when you were that age. I strongly recommend volunteering – Pay it forward!


Cheers for Achievement - 9th Annual Wine Testing

winetasting inviteYou are invited to Junior Achievement’s 9th Annual Wine Testing Event on May 9th at the Civic Opera House Tower Club. Join us to network, socialize, and discuss how we can and do make a real difference in the lives of youth.

Junior Achievement’s 9th Annual Wine Testing Event was established with the support of the Central Division Board in 2005. The event raises funds to maintain the central division’s general gift campaign and the expansion of programs into more schools across the city of Chicago reaching over 200,000 inner city students this school year.

Event highlights include: plentitude of wine samplings, corporate networking, scrumptious snacks, striking views of Chicago's architecture, mystery bottle grab, silent auction and much more

Event details: Civic Opera House Tower Club, Floor 39 • 20 N. Wacker Drive, from 5:30-8:30 pm. Tickets are $60 in Advance, $65 at the Door. 

Questions? Contact Tiffany Mays at tmays@jachicago.org or 312-715-1300 X 238 for more information.

Cheers for Achievement.

Register today! 


Are Today’s Teens at Risk of Becoming Tomorrow’s “Basement Generation?”












In the next couple of months, millions of American teens will be graduating from high school. There was a time when this meant many kids would go off to college, get a degree and start a career. But in recent years, for a variety of reasons, including a sluggish economy and the growing skills gap in the American workforce, many kids are heading back home to live in mom and dad’s basement after receiving that college degree. A reality reinforced by recent assessments of Census data by Pew Research showing that more than one-in-four adults between the ages of 25 and 34 had moved back with their parents at one time or another during the “Great Recession.”


A new survey from Junior Achievement USA® (JA) and The Allstate Foundation shows that 25 percent of teens believe they will be age 25-27 before becoming financially independent from parents/guardians, up from 12 percent in 2011.

Generally speaking, teens are more optimistic about their futures with a 20 percent increase in those saying they expect to be financially better off than their parents. But part of their financial security now comes from depending on parents longer. Jobs are still hard to find, especially for new graduates, and societal norms are more accepting of the formerly dreaded “living with your parents.” It is interesting to see this shift in teens thinking they will remain financially dependent on parents, while building a better future for themselves.

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • Nationally, of the 33 percent of teens who say they do not use a budget, 42 percent are “not interested” and more than a quarter (26 percent) think “budgets are for adults.”
  • More than half of U.S. teens (52 percent) think students are borrowing too much to pay for college, yet only nine percent report they are currently saving money for college. Nearly 30 percent have not talked with their parents about paying for higher education.
  • The majority of U.S. teens (76 percent) still report the best time to learn about money management is in kindergarten through high school, but only 29 percent reported programs currently in place.

At Junior Achievement, we understand that preparing our youth to be financially literate is more complex than teaching them to put their pennies in a piggy bank, which is why JA has developed relevant programs crafted to meet the needs of an ever-changing environment.

We know times have been tough, but now is the time to secure independent financial futures for yourselves and your children. Empower your children today.

JA and The Allstate Foundation Partnership For decades, JA and The Allstate Foundation have partnered to help students understand how personal finance lessons relate to their future. The  JA Economics for Success®program, created in partnership with The Allstate Foundation, has helped more than 1.2 million students across the country set personal goals about money and make wise financial choices. 

Methodology and Executive Summary The national study was conducted Feb. 5-15, 2013, using the KnowledgePanel to interview 1,025 teens ages 14-18 years old. The survey’s margin of error is +/- 3 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. An executive summary of the Junior Achievement Teens and Personal Finance Survey 2013 is available.


Times of Northwest Indiana employees teach 3rd graders the role of careers and business in a city

[caption id="attachment_1606" align="aligncenter" width="717"]Times JAID photo Third grade students participating in the JA Our City program at their desks[/caption]

Times of Northwest Indiana employee volunteers provided 3rd graders lessons on the role of businesses in a city while teaching the JA Our City program in classrooms in Crown Point, Hammond, and Valparaiso last month. Using the JA Our City elementary school program, volunteers introduced students to economic development, local businesses, and career opportunities with key lessons on city zoning and building, opening a restaurant and banking, and newspaper production.

Barb Mason, regional human resources director, said The Times’  jumped at the opportunity to allow employees to volunteer with JA. “What a great all-around win — time in the community schools with kids, talking about our business, with our own employees who are there because they want to make a difference,” Mason said. “That’s just what we are all about and why we matter in the communities where we do business.”


Bob Cacovski, media consultant for The Times, said he enjoyed his volunteer experience at Central Elementary in Valparaiso. “All of the students were very polite, waited to be called on and said a hearty ‘thank you’ at the end,” Cacovski said. “I see so much potential in all of them, and I think that JA is a super way to introduce them to real-life situations.

Maggie Sanchez, customer care representative for the call center, said the students taught her while she was teaching them. She volunteered with third-graders at Thomas Jefferson Elementary in Hammond. “They taught me how smart kids of their age are and how much knowledge they soak up,” Sanchez said. “It was an experience I would do again if I ever had the lucky chance.

Many thanks to all our fantastic volunteers that made a difference in these young students' lives. Junior Achievement is actively making a difference in the Northwest Indiana community, get involved today. 



Your First JA Class…Tips on Classroom Management!


Part 1: General Tips (via JA USA)

Most of us are a little nervous before teaching our first class. To prepare, it is important to schedule a meeting with the teacher to review each session's overview and objectives, and inquire about the students' general abilities. If possible, meet a few minutes before students arrive to avoid interrupting the class. Once class begins, schedule sufficient time to observe the interaction between the students and teacher. Here are some general tips for you:

  • Know the school's policies regarding visitors; most require checking in at the office.
  • Seek the teacher's advice; respect his or her authority and expertise in the classroom.
  • Leave student discipline to the teacher.
  • In any contact with a student, the teacher, another school-sanctioned adult, or the student's parent or guardian must be present.

Knowing that you can count on the teacher for help will make your classroom experience much less intimidating and ultimately more rewarding for everyone. If you have already taught a JA class in the past, what advice would you give to a new volunteer?

Refer to our volunteer training site for videos and more! These tips will be broken up into a series of posts. Come back soon, we will post more classroom management tips in the near future.


Money Smart Kid Application Available Now!


The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and its partner organizations, including Junior Achievement of Chicago, are once again sponsoring the Money Smart Kid Essay Contest.

Students in grades 5-8 are encouraged to answer this year’s Money Smart Question with an essay of 300 words or less. Six finalists will be selected to attend the Money Smart Kick-Off breakfast and one student will be named this year’s Money Smart Kid, winning a $5,000 scholarship from BMO Harris Bank and the chance to spend a year as Chicago’s financial literacy ambassador. Two $2,500 scholarships will be awarded to the runner-ups sponsored by COUNTRY Financial. Laptops will be awarded to the other three (3) finalists sponsored by Woodforest National Bank. The first 20 teachers to have at least two (2) students submit essays will receive one $25 gift card courtesy of BMO Harris Bank.

The 2013 Question: 

What is the difference between an investment and an expense? What would be a good investment in your community and why?  Please discuss who would benefit from this investment.

Learn more about the competition today or download the form online now.



A Junior Achievement Love Story


This is a great Junior Achievement love story shared by a former JA student. Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you.  We love our JA supporters and volunteers!

It was 1960-1961.  I was in high school.  My mom suggested I join Junior Achievement to learn more about how a business is run (JA Company Program®).  So my friend Marc and I came to the first meeting and joined up.

It was here that we created a small company, sold stocks (mostly to relatives) and produced a product that we sold from door to door (bubble bath).  Did it make any money?  Not really (though we had some value for our stock at the end of the year).  We did learn about obtaining raw materials, manufacturing and selling a product.  It was a powerful way to have hands-on experience.  Not just talk, but actually doing.

During this time I met a girl named Lorrie (who was also a member of Junior Achievement) and we started dating.  Eventually we married in 1966 (Marc was our best man) and Lorrie and I are taking a cruise in the coming week to celebrate 45 years of marriage.

What is so interesting is that the company that was created in 1960 in Junior Achievement was guided by two people (I can only remember one name … Mr. Metz) who worked for, of all places, Amoco.

And, here, today, I see BP is still involved in Junior Achievement.

Do I remember much about High School?  Not really.  Do I remember much about Junior Achievement?  You bet.  Just a great experience.  Nice people.  Fun learning.

To all the volunteers: You are working with children and teaching them values that they will live with the rest of their lives.  My wife Lorrie, my friend Marc and I will never forget our experiences at Junior Achievement.

Why this ITW volunteer keeps coming back!

Patricia One of our fantastic volunteers, Patricia Neugent, who is an Internal Auditor with ITW, has volunteered  for six years and shared why she is so dedicated and keeps teaching JA programs in her community.

How did you learn about Junior Achievement and what prompted you to get involved?

I learned about Junior Achievement because I had it in middle school and my dad taught it as well.  It was really interesting learning business and economics topics in a classroom setting, since I didn’t really know much about it outside of that.  When my first employer offered us the opportunity to participate in JA in a Day, I jumped at the chance.

In what ways are you involved as a volunteer with Junior Achievement?

I have done several JA in a Day events, and have taught 1-2 classes of grade school and high school students in the traditional 5 class format the last couple years.  I have also volunteered for the JA You’re Hired Challenge and spoken to high school business classes as a representative of JA about my accounting and auditing career.

Why do you come back to volunteer?

It’s a way to give back to the community that fits well with what I have done in my career so far.  I can give students at a younger age an idea of what it is like in the business world and share my knowledge in this way. Connecting with the students and seeing how they apply the concepts you are teaching them to their experiences is always fun.

What have you learned or how have you been personally affected from your experience with Junior Achievement?

It’s always a great feeling to have the kids you are teaching excited about seeing you again.  Even if it may seem that they aren’t that interested in what you are teaching that day, making them laugh and hearing their stories is a wonderful experience (no matter how off topic).  I also feel like teaching in this setting helps my own business skills.  It is tough to keep the attention of a classroom of young children (or bored high schoolers), so teaching JA has taught me to be a more dynamic presenter and speaker as well.

Do you have any advice for individuals considering volunteering with Junior Achievement?

If the opportunity presents itself to get involved with JA, definitely jump at the chance.  If a traditional 5-class setting doesn’t work with your schedule, try out JA in a day and spend the morning with students.  It’s a great experience to connect with kids and it may spark interest in the business world at a young age.  Plus, there are few rooms that are harder to speak to and captivate than a room of restless 4th graders, so you can learn a lot from your experiences that you can apply on the job as well.

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  • "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

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