JA In The News | Junior Achievement of Chicago

JA is Really Newsworthy!

Spring Volunteer Opportunities Galore!

It's not too late to volunteer this spring! Sign up for one (or more!) of the volunteer opportunties below.

Will County Area

To volunteer for the events below, please email Colleen Adent.
Reverse Job Shadow
April 27th from 12:30pm-2:30pm
Summit Hill Junior High
7260 W. North Ave Frankfort, IL 60423
JA in a Day
May 9th from 9:00am-11:30pm
Lincoln Cultural Center Montessori 
240 Warren Ave Kankakee, IL 60901
JA in a Day
May 31st from 1:00pm-3:00pm
Frankfort Square Elementary 
7710 W. Kingston Dr. Frankfort, IL 60423
To volunteer for one the oppportunities below, please email Eric Sperstad.
Gompers Middle School – Career Fair 
Date & Time:  May 4, 2018 8:00 AM-12:00 PM
Location: 1501 Copperfield Ave. Joliet 60432
Hufford Junior High School- JA It's My Future Part 2 
Date & Time: May 16, 2018 8:00 – 11:20 AM
Location: 1125 N Larkin Ave, Joliet, IL 60435

North Suburban Cook County

Volunteer for one of the events below by emailing Leah Zeiger.
JA Weekly Class
Flexible dates/times
Walker School
3601 Church Street, Evanston IL 60203
JA Weekly Class
Flexible dates/times
Hynes Elementary
9000 Belleforte Morton Grove, IL 60053
JA Career Day
May 2nd, 8:30-11:30 am
Nichols Middle School
800 Greenleaf St, Evanston, IL 60202

South Suburban Cook County

To volutneer for one of the events below, please email Asia Ousley.
JA in a Day
April 19th, 8:30am – 11:00am (Kindergarten only)
Woodbine School, 3003 50th Ct, Cicero
JA in a Day
April 25th, 11:00am – 2:30pm
McKinley School, 1400 S 59th Ave, Cicero
JA in a Day
April 30th, 8:30am – 12:00pm (4th – 6th Grades Only) 
Lincoln School, 3545 S 61st Ave, Cicero
JA Reverse Job Shadow Day
May 4th, 8:30am – 12:30pm (6th – 8th Grades Only)
Irving School, 805 S. 17th Avenue, Maywood
ALL Career Fields Needed
To volunteer for one of the events below, please email Lisa Brzezicki.
JA in a Day
Thursday, April 19th
8:30am-11:45am & 11:45am- 3:00pm
Timber Trails Elementary
1675 McDonough Rd, Hoffman Estates, IL 60192
JA in a Day
Thursday, May 3rd
Campanelli Elementary
310 Springinsguth Rd, Schaumburg, IL 60193
JA in a Day
Tuesday, May 8th
Lincoln Elementary
1021 N Ridgewood Ln, Palatine, IL 60067
JA in a Day
Thursday, May 10th
11:45am- 2:45pm
Michael Collins Elementary
407 Summit Dr, Schaumburg, IL 60193

DuPage County

Volunteer for one of the events below by emailing Nikki Batsch.
JA Reverse Job Shadow 
May 4th 7:30-11am 
Madison Jr High 
1000 River Oak Dr., Naperville, IL 60565
JA Our Region
April – Flexible
Winfield Central School 
0S150 Winfield Road Winfield, IL 60190
JA in a Day
April or May – Flexible with date
St Michael Parish School 
314 W. Willow Ave. Wheaton, IL 60187
To volunteer for the classes below, please email Ashley Halsten.
Junior Achievement in a Day
Thursday, May 3rd  
Laurel Hill
1750 Laurel Ave, 
Hanover Park, IL 60133
Junior Achievement in a Day
Wednesday, May 9th   
Laurel Hill Elementary
1750 Laurel Ave, 
Hanover Park, IL 60133
Junior Achievement in a Day
Friday, May 18th   
Western Trails Elementary School
860 Idaho Street,
Carol Stream, IL 60188
Flexible schedule (can be coordinated with teacher)
Hawk Hollow Elementary School
235 Jacaranda Dr,
Bartlett, IL 60103
Flexible schedule (can be coordinated with teacher)
Liberty Elementary School
1375 W. Bartlett Road
Bartlett, IL 60103
Flexible schedule (can be coordinated with teacher)
Sycamore Trails Elementary School
1025 Sycamore Lane
Bartlett, IL 60103
Flexible schedule (can be coordinated with teacher)
School: Horizon Elementary School
1701 Greenbrook Blvd.
Hanover Park, IL 60133
Flexible schedule (can be coordinated with teacher)
Glenbrook Elementary School
315 Garden Circle
Streamwood, IL 60107
Flexible schedule (can be coordinated with teacher)
School:Currier Elementary School
801 Gary's Mill Rd
West Chicago, IL 60185
Flexible schedule (can be coordinated with teacher)
School: Pioneer Elementary School
615 Kenwood Ave
West Chicago, IL 60185
To volunteer for the classes below, please email Mia Fromknecht.
Traditional:  2 classes - 3rd Grade
Flexible schedule to be arranged with teacher
Park View Elementary School
250 S. Park Blvd, Glen Ellyn, IL, 60137
Traditional: 3 classes -  Kindergarten
Flexible schedule to be arranged with teacher
Army Trail Elementary School
346 Army Trail Rd, Addison, IL, 60101
JA Reverse Job Shadow
March 22nd, 11a-2pm
Willowbrook High School
1250 South Ardmore Avenue, Villa Park, IL, 60181
JA in a Day:  6th Grade
May 4th, various slots from 7:45a - 2:45p
Indian Trail Jr. High School
220 N. Kennedy Dr., Addison, IL, 60101
To volunteer for one of the classes below, please email Linda Jonynas.
What and/or Program Name: K- 4th grade (traditional)
When: open dates/times
School Name: C.E. Miller Elementary
School Address:  125 W Traube Ave, Westmont IL 60559
When: open dates/times
School Name: Manning Elementary
School Address:  200 N. Linden Ave., Westmont        
When: Mondays or Tuesdays bet. 1:50-2:30. If weekly not feasible, then three 40-50 min. sessions 
School Name: Manning Elementary
School Address:  200 N. Linden Ave., Westmont     
JA in Day
When: May 10th PM: arrive 12:15; start 12:30, finish 2:45pm
School Name: Murphy Elementary
School Address:  7700 Larchwood Lane , Woodridge        
JA in Day
When: Tuesday, May 15th in AM: set up in room 8:15am; begin 8:30; finish 11:20am
School Name: Murphy Elementary
School Address:  7700 Larchwood Lane, Woodridge      
When: variety of dates/times
School Name: Schiesher School
School Address:  5205 Kingston Avenue, Lisle      
When: variety of dates/times
School Name: St. Scholastica School
School Address:  7720 Janes Ave, Woodridge  
Traditional Classes
When: variety of dates/times
School Name: Willow Creek Elementary
School Address:  2901 Jackson Dr. , Woodridge  
Hinsdale Adventist Academy
Variety of dates/times
631 E Hickory St, Hinsdale
Career Speaker for 1 or 2 class periods
Lisle Senior High
1800 Short Street, Lisle
Variety of Careers requested:  Insurance (Driver’s Ed class), Medical career (Anatomy class), Interior Design 



Our Scholarship Applications are Live!


Junior Achievement of Chicago Scholarship Descriptions and Guidelines 2017-2018 

Scholarship Deadline is March 23, 2018  

Applications must be in or postmarked by this date. Children of current full or part time employees of Junior Achievement of Chicago are not eligible for scholarship consideration. These scholarships are only available to students that have particiapted in Junior Achievement programs via the JA of Chicago office (covering McHenry, Lake, Cook, DuPage, Will, Kankakee, Grundy, DeKalb, Kane, Kendall counties and Lake and Porter counties in Indiana.)

Colonel Henry Crown Scholarship ($40,000)

$40,000 scholarship - $10,000 a year for a four-year period while pursuing a degree at an accredited college or university of his or her choice. Opportunity to apply for paid internships (3 summers at 10 weeks each) with a nonprofit organization supported by Crown Family Philanthropies.

Eligibility Criteria: Must be a high school senior who has an average of “B” or better beginning in sophomore year. Must have participated in a Junior Achievement of Chicago high school program.

Applicants need to submit completed Henry Crown Scholarship application with the following attached:

  • Copy of the classroom volunteer or teacher rating scale and letter of recommendation (included in application)
  • Copy of the high school rating scale (included in application)
  • Signed transcript
  • SAT/ACT/PSAT results
  • Student essay detailing your reasons for wanting to continue your education
  • Short biography including extracurricular activities, community service, and how involvement with Junior Achievement has affected your life

*If selected as a finalist 25-minute interviews will be held at the Junior Achievement offices to determine the recipients of the four scholarships. Date TBD.

*Scholastic promise, motivation, moral character, leadership qualities and good citizenship are the major considerations for the selection of awardees.

JA General Scholarships ($1,000 - $5,000)

Junior Achievement of Chicago also awards other scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 as a one-time payment to the college or university of your choice.

Eligibility Criteria: Must be a high school senior who has an average of “B” or better beginning in your sophomore year. Must have participated in a Junior Achievement of Chicago high school program

The Colonel Henry Crown application is used for all general scholarships as well; please submit the application with all of the components listed above for the Henry Crown Scholarship.

High School Heroes Scholarship ($1,000)

This Junior Achievement of Chicago scholarship is made available for those high school seniors who participate in a Junior Achievement program and then go out in the community and mentor and facilitate a Junior Achievement program in a local elementary school serving as the volunteer.

Eligibility Criteria: All high school seniors who participate in a High School Heroes event are eligible to submit an essay detailing their experience. Once submitted, Junior Achievement of Chicago will judge essays on content and form. The author(s) of the top essay(s) will receive scholarship consideration from Junior Achievement of Chicago. 


Junior Achievement USA® (JA) today announced that it will honor Allstate with a  2016-2017 U.S. President's Volunteer Service Award. The U.S. President's Volunteer Service Award will be presented to 57 organizations at an evening awards ceremony during the JA Volunteer Summit, presented by American Express Foundation, on March 13, 2018 in New York, NY.

In 2003, President George W. Bush established the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation (the Council) to recognize the valuable contributions volunteers make in communities and encourage more people to serve. The Council created the President's Volunteer Service Award program as a way to thank and honor individuals who, by their demonstrated commitment and example, inspire others to engage in volunteer service. In 2006, Junior Achievement became an official certifying organization for this award, which recognizes corporations with a U.S. presence that provide volunteers to teach JA programs anywhere in the world.

"Junior Achievement volunteers are important mentors for young people, bringing our programs to life. JA volunteers share their experiences and skills with students while delivering our programs, teaching them how to manage their money, succeed in the workforce, or start a business that creates jobs and grows the economy. JA’s volunteers are critical to our organization’s success and are a vital part of our mission," said Sandy Daffé, President of Junior Achievement of Chicago.

The complete list of recipients can be found here.

AIG’s Corporate Citizenship Honored at Inaugural Insurance Business Awards America

Article provided courtesy of AIG.

AIG had won an award recognizing its commitment to corporate social responsibility, highlighting the company's support of financial education and workforce readiness through its partnership with Junior Achievement.

Pam Rodrigues, Global Volunteer Program Manager, accepted the KemperLesnik Award for Corporate Social Responsibility on AIG's behalf at an awards ceremony in Chicago, and thanked the thousands of AIG employees who selflessly give their time and talents toward inspiring students around the world.

The recognition was given as part of the Insurance Business Awards America 2017. The November ceremony, which recognized the "brightest and best" in the insurance industry, was sponsored by Key Media International, publisher of Insurance Business Magazine, Insurance Business Online and Insurance Business Awards Canada. The event marked the first time that the awards had been given out in the United States. 

Joe Fitzpatrick, Midwest Zone President and JA Board Member, who attended the ceremony said, "this is an incredible honor, and a reflection of the hard work of our people around the world to give back."

Chief Financial Officer Sid Sankaran and several AIG employees who have served as volunteers also attended the event. Marya Propis, Head of Broker Engagement, U.S., was nominated for The Tangram Insurance Services Award for Woman of Distinction, and was also present.

Since 2014, nearly 1,000 employees have volunteered with JA in the classroom, through board leadership and by hosting fundraisers and student activities in their local offices to support programs that empower young people to own their financial success.

Last year alone, AIG invested more than $500,000 to support 14 U.S. and six international cities, ensuring that nearly 24,000 students in more than 1,000 different classrooms in those locations received programming.

Thousands of Insurance Business America readers selected finalists for the awards in 23 categories. AIG was the finalist in three categories: Corporate Social Responsibility, Philanthropy & Community Service featuring the Legal Pro bono program, and Marya's nomination for the Woman of Distinction award.


JA Talks Teens and Entrepreneurship on WGN Radio

New research conducted by ORC International on behalf of Junior Achievement (JA) and EY shows that nearly nine-in-ten parents (88%) would be extremely or very likely to support their teen’s interest in becoming an entrepreneur as an adult, but less than one-in-three teens (30%) demonstrate that same level of enthusiasm for starting a business. For teens, the greatest concerns for starting a business include it being “too risky” (31%) and “not enough money in it” (22%). Only 16 percent of teens indicate they have no concerns about trying. Conversely, 53 percent of parents have no concerns about their teen starting a business as an adult. Those citing concerns focused on it being “too risky” (27%) and there being “not enough money in it” (9%).

“These results speak to some of the challenges facing the nation when it comes to business creation,” said Sandy Daffé, President of Junior Achievement of Chicago. “Since the Great Recession in 2008, the country has been experiencing a net decline in business start-ups. Today’s young people grew up in the shadow of the Financial Crisis, which may explain their risk-aversion when it comes to taking the entrepreneurial leap. This is why we need to promote the benefits of entrepreneurship early and often.”

The survey was conducted to coincide with EY’s support of Junior Achievement’s JA Launch Lesson, a program delivered by community entrepreneurs whereby high school students gain firsthand knowledge about starting a business and the entrepreneurial journey. JA Launch Lesson is a 50-minute educational experience that creates a point-of-entry for students, volunteers, and educators.

Starting in November during National Entrepreneurship month, the JA Launch Lesson program will be delivered by entrepreneurs in classrooms, after-school facilities, and other student venues across the United States. Entrepreneurs are given the opportunity to connect with students, provide relevant information about their company and entrepreneurial journey, and share advice and next steps for students who are interested in starting their own business.

Teens were also asked what they would need in order to consider becoming an entrepreneur. About half said they would need “more information on what it takes to be successful” (51%), “investors” (50%) and “support from parents” (49%). About a third said they would need “a role model who is a business owner” (35%) and “friends with a similar interest” (32%).

“Entrepreneurs are the driving force behind growth and positive change, and at EY we believe it is vital to help enable our future generation of innovators,” said Randy Cain, Vice Chair and Southwest Region Managing Partner, Ernst & Young LLP, and JA USA board member. “Creative, hands-on programs such as JA Launch Lesson are critical to providing our youth with the tools, information, and resources necessary to succeed when starting their own business.”

JA was recently interviewed on WGN Radio about this survey and how JA programs are inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs. Listen to the full interview here. Are you an entrepreneur and want to volunteer for the JA Launch Lesson? Sign up here.

TD Ameritrade Supports JA High School Heroes Programs

This spring, Proviso West and Proviso East high schools participated in the Junior Achievement – High School Heroes program. Junior Achievement is an educational nonprofit that brings financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship programming into classrooms in grades kindergarten through high school. High School Heroes is where high school students go out in the community for one day to facilitate a Junior Achievement program in a local elementary school serving as the volunteer. 
For this program, high school volunteers deliver the programs effectively and with great impact to make a positive difference in the lives of the kindergarten through 3rd grade students in many at-risk communities. Elementary students benefit from having a role model they can relate to in the classroom while experiencing the JA program. Meanwhile, high school students build public speaking and leadership skills that they can apply to their academic and professional career. Additionally, high school students that volunteered for JA are eligible to apply for JA scholarships.
Prior to the event, students spent 4 hours prepping their class materials during training sessions with Junior Achievement Operations Manager and Proviso East alum (’04), Asia Ousley. 65 Proviso West students (FCS and Human Development) delivered programs to grades K-5 at District 88 feeder schools - Thurgood Marshall Elementary School and Lincoln Elementary School in Bellwood. 
Students started teaching at the beginning of the school day and spent 3-4 hours in the classroom. Participating in this program gave these students an opportunity to - give back to the community earning service hours, enhance their presentation skills, as well as a chance to receive Junior Achievement scholarships. They were also able to get first-hand exposure to the education career field. This program was possible due a generous grant from TD Ameritrade. Many of the students shared that they are now confident that they would like to pursue their career in education! 

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 Ridge

Downers Grove

Morton Grove

Mount Prospect




Prospect Heights




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!



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.


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.


“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



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!



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.

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