Wait, I thought you were paying my college tuition?

April is National Financial Literacy Month, and it's also the month that we highlight some important results from our annual Teens & Personal Finance survey.

Junior Achievement has conducted the Teens & Personal Finance Survey for the last 16 years, partnering with The Allstate Foundation since 2005. Each year the survey asks U.S. teens, ages 13-18, questions about personal finance and attitudes on saving and spending money. This year, for the first time, we expanded the survey to also ask parents of teens their thoughts on personal finance and their teens' knowledge of certain money management skills. Talking with parents gave us some really interesting insights about the differences between parents and teens.

We learned that parents aren't talking to their kids enough about money management in general. As the above graphic shows, eighty-four percent of teens name their parents as their main source for learning about money management, yet more than a third of parents (34%) say they do not discuss money matters with their children and "let kids be kids." How can we expect our kids to learn if we're not willing to teach them?

Even more interesting, when parents are talking to their kids about money, they are may be leaving girls out of the conversation. Forty percent of girls say their parents aren't talking to them enough about money management, compared to only 24% of boys.

The gender gap continues in personal finance lessons from parents. Boys report getting allowance more often than girls for good grades (34% to 24%) and completing chores (48% to 38%).

Data also shows that women (teens and parents) have lower expectations about potential earning power. Moms are significantly more likely than dads to say their child will earn $15k or less at their first job after graduation (26% vs. 17%). Teen girls continue the trend: 24% of girls think they will make $15k or less at their first job compared to only 16% of boys who feel the same. We need to be equipping both boys and girls with the skills they will need to lead financially independent lives. 

Additionally, the survey results showed that parents and teens aren't talking about how to pay for college.

Nearly half of teens (48%) think their parents will help for college but only 16% of parents say they are planning to pay for their child's post-secondary education. Additionally, interest in community college is on the rise. When asked to consider the rising cost of college, a larger number of teens in 2015 are considering attending local community college instead of another college or university: 22 percent in 2014 rose to 29 percent in 2015.

To read more about the survey and learn how you can start these conversations with your teens, click here

5 Free Ways to Improve Your Financial Literacy

You don’t have to be a trained professional to know how to create a budget for your family, or set realistic financial goals. There are many free resources which makes gaining a solid financial education easier than ever before.

In celebration of National Financial Literacy Month, here are five free ways to improve your financial literacy.

1. Develop a financial plan.  Clearly identify your financial goals and write them out. Some questions to ask yourself when developing this plan are:

a.       What are the financial goals I hope to achieve?

b.       What is the timeframe in which I’d like to reach each goal?

c.       What changes will I make to ensure I reach my financial goals by the specified timeframe?

Be sure to make the plan realistic!  Start by making a short-term goal and make small adjustments as needed to ensure the plan is solid enough to be followed through in the long-term.

And, don’t ditch your financial plan if a small problem arises and affects your current money situation. Be flexible!

If you need a little further assistance in coordinating a plan, use a free calculators like WealthRuler. It can be a big help when devising a financial plan to pursue your goals.

2. Take advantage of free education.  Visit your local public library and gain access to their collection of financial educational materials.  Many locations offer more than simply a selection of financial magazines and books. Personal finance workshops are often available that can teach you everything from balancing a checkbook to managing your money.

3. Follow finance websites. There are a variety of blogs and financial sites easily accessible through the internet. Follow those sites and pay close attention to the tips that are offered daily related to getting financially prepared for your future. You can also follow financial news outlets and your favorite finance gurus on social media to get their up-to-the minute updates. And don’t forget about the free government resources available online. Sites like the US Dept. of Treasury’s Office of the Controller of the Currency and The US Federal Reserve are full of information, from basic financial literacy to advice and educational information for kids and teens. 

4. Know your credit rating. It’s important to keep an eye on your credit score so you know where you stand when you apply for things, such as a mortgage, credit card, etc. There are a number of services that offer credit reports without charging fees.

5. Commit to learning. Financial education should be a continuous learning opportunity!  Make it an ongoing priority each year to learn more about financial literacy.

How do you continue to improve your financial knowledge? Share with us in the comments!

April Volunteer Hero

Volunteering and philanthropy comes naturally for Robert White III, with a decade-long career in nonprofit work. Last year, Robert joined JA’s Young Professionals Advisory Board (YPAB) and brought his generosity and volunteer experience along with him.

He explained his interest in working with JA by saying, “I wanted to find an organization that had an excellent track record in youth development and provided opportunities to all area youth to live, learn, and grow to be consistent contributors to society.”

After joining YPAB, Robert participated in the Young Professional’s JA in a Day, teaching elementary students. Being in the classroom immediately reminded him of his “days of being in the classroom working with brilliant young minds.” 

“The coolest part was when several students asked me if I'd come back to visit in the future,” Robert said.  “As a result, I signed up to become a volunteer and started working with young people in the after school program.” 

What’s more, Robert feels like JA has given him something too. “JA has provided me with an opportunity to empower young people, learn the ropes of being a board member, and make connections that may take me to the next level in both my personal and professional life.”

Thanks to volunteers like Robert, Junior Achievement of Greater St. Louis is able to reach more students and connect with young professionals, who are the next generation of leaders in the region.

The best part of the whole thing, according to Robert is, “Knowing that my efforts are making a positive impact in the lives of young people.”

Celebrate Financial Literacy Month with JA

 

April is National Financial Literacy Month. That’s a big deal to us at JA, since financial literacy, in addition to entrepreneurship and work readiness, is one of the three pillars that guide our programs.

So, what exactly is financial literacy?

Financial literacy is understanding how money works – how to earn money, spend wisely, save for the future, invest and give back. And, it’s more important now than ever.

According to statistics compiled by Gen Y Planning, only 40 percent of U.S. adults keep a budget and track their expenses and 76 percent report that they live “paycheck to paycheck.” Savings aren’t looking so great either. A full 50 percent of respondents said that they have less than three months of expenses saved up, while 27 percent reported that they have no savings at all. This is all the worse given that the average time a person spends unemployed after losing a job is more than 7 months!

Junior Achievement is dedicated to teaching young people the importance of building strong personal finances for a happy and secure life. We hope you’ll check back in with us throughout April as we share tips on how to improve your financial literacy, teach your children about managing money and how JA is helping!

March Volunteer Hero

 

“All the kids love when I wear this tie,” Wayne Allen explained to me when he arrived at JA’s headquarters to receive his volunteer of the month award. The tie, covered in monopoly money, seems fitting for the IT professional who, for nearly twenty years, has been teaching students about financial literacy through Junior Achievement’s in-school programs.

“One of my most memorable experiences would have to be when a high school senior, who was volunteering at the elementary school where I was instructing, came up to me and shared how much she had enjoyed and remembered from the sessions I presented to her class when she was in 4th grade.”

Wayne’s first volunteer assignment was in March of 1996 when his oldest daughter’s elementary school encouraged parents to volunteer. 19 years later, he still enjoys his time in the classroom, helping students gain financial literacy skills.

“Learning how to address students on the subject of financial literacy has benefited me in understanding how to approach other subjects, whether personal or professional, to people of all ages.” Wayne explained.

Wayne’s employer, MasterCard, is also a big supporter of JA, participating in the JA Bowl-A-Thon and holding an annual JA in a Day event with more than 400 employee volunteers participating.  

“It was amazing to see so many at MasterCard enjoy presenting the JA material as much as I do,” Wayne said, recalling the last JA in a Day he participated in with MasterCard.

When I asked him what we would tell someone thinking about getting involved with Junior Achievement, Wayne was quick to reply. “Don’t wait any longer,” he said. “If you have school age children, find out if their teacher would be interested in having the JA program presented in their class. You will have lots of fun and will impact the financial understanding of the children for their lifetime.”

“Agreeing to sacrifice a few hours of my time back in 1996 has led me to years of enjoying the opportunities to share the knowledge about handling money.” 

JA Bowl-A-Thon: 25 Years and 25 Reasons

Where were you around this time in 1990? Here at JASTL, we were getting ready to launch our first Bowl-A-Thon! And, you know what they say, time flies when you're having fun! We can hardly believe it's been 25 years!

To celebrate, we put together a list of volunteers, teachers, sponsors, employees and, of course, students, that make JASTL great! Check out our 25 reasons to support JA:

1. JA has given me the knowledge that I need in order to be an active member of my community and has paved the way for future success. - Hile, Student

2. Allowing students to see that they can strive to be more and get more out of life and set goals for themselves is important to me. - Nerissa, Volunteer and Young Professionals Board Member

3. I can see that volunteering at JA helps make a difference to the students through the use of my time and life experiences with finances. - Joe, Volunteer

4. JA has taught me that you don't have to be an adult to understand how businesses work. I actually started my own business called Bows for Breast Cancer. JA has helped me tremendously by teaching me how to keep track of my money. I've raised $500 so far! - Caroline, Student

5. JA has allowed me to, in a very small way, be a part of a movement that is having a major impact on our future generations. - Dr. Mahendra Gupta, JA Board Member and Dean and Geraldine J. and Robert J. Virgil Professor of Accounting and Management

6. JA is an amazing place that transforms minds and opens up opportunities that students may never have thought were available to them. - David, Volunteer

7. JA is a lot of fun, and I got to learn about all kinds of jobs. I can see how being a newscaster or public speaker may be a great career for me! - Zoe, Student

8. When you're teaching JA, you see the children's faces light up and you know that they "get it." It's extremely satsifying to know that they are developing a sound foundation from which to move forward with. - Jeremiah, Volunteer and Young Professionals Advisory Board Member

9. The partnership of the business and education communities is a powerful combination in preparing our youth for their futures. - Lori Jacob, President and CEO of Junior Achievement of Greater St. Louis

10. Junior Achievement's focus on entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy helps us provide our students with the solid educational foundation they will need for future success. - Dr. Kelvin Adams, Superintendent of St. Louis Public Schools

11. Exposing children at an early age to the opportunities that business, the entrepreneurial spirit and economic development presents is priceless. JA helps make learning hands-on and fun, seeding future business leaders for our country. - Maxine Clark, Founder of Build-A-Bear Workshop

12. You never know how "just showing up" will impact a child. Just remember that you were once a child and how you felt when someone else took great interest in you. - Angel, Volunteer and Bowl-A-Thon Coordinator 

13. It's amazing to witness the positive impact a JA program can have on students - even as young as kindergarten. - Sarina Strack, Volunteer, Board Member, Bowler, and JA Company Program Company of the Year Judge

14. JA has helped me know that I can be an entrepreneur when I get older. - Barrett, Student

15. Junior Achievement has been instrumental in providing our students an opportunity to dream big and foster entrepreneurship and financial literacy skills that will support them on their journey to success in the global marketplace. - Dr. Wanda LeFlore, Principal at Kennard CJA Elementary School 

16. Through JA, I have witnessed the power of working together for the greater good of our students. - Tami Ensor, JA Advisory Chair in Central Missouri

17. JA teaches our students everything from writing checks and managing checkbooks to managing businesses and managing people! - Denita, Teacher

18. I believe in Junior Achievement because it teaches children about free enterprise and how important their education is to their future. - Dennis Jones, Founder of Jones Pharma and JA Board Member

19. Being an employee for over 28 years, I've seen JA grow to meet the demands of a changing economy. - Gina Barnes, Vice President of Adminstration

20. The resources and the materials are age appropriate and challenge each student at their ability level. - Scott Readnour, Principal at Hillsboro Intermediate School 

21. Junior Achievement gave me the tools I needed to stand out from my peers when seeking employment after graduation, and it  is one of the main reasons I have had a successful career. - Kevin Desrosiers, former JA Student

22. The team at JA St. Louis are top-notch and we work well together as a partnership which makes every experience enjoyable. - Kim, Volunteer, IT Committee Member and Student Impact Committee Member

23. JA is so amazing! When I first walked into the building I was overwhelmed with the fantastic environment that JA provides for kids! - Sydney, Student

24. I was not in the teaching field per say, but at least I started doing it with JA and now, today and for the last 15 years, I've been teaching at the college level. - Ed, Volunteer for over 39 years

25. All of the JA supporters! Last year, over 7,000 volunteers helped us reach 144,376 students! We couldn't have achieved this without the support of the community - thank you! - JA of Greater St. Louis Staff

Today is the start of our Bowl-A-Thon Mega Weekend! Companies like Bank of America, Moneta Group and FleishmanHillard will come together to network, team-build and raise money to support JA programs. If you're interested in getting involved in the JA Bowl-A-Thon, click here!

10 Meaningful Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

 

Valentine’s Day can be a great excuse to do something that makes others feel good or help a cause that’s close to your heart. We’ve compiled a list of 10 ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day while making a positive difference.  We’d love to hear your ideas too, so please share them in the comments.

 

  1. Volunteer. There are so many benefits that come with volunteering.  If you’ve thought about taking the leap, but something’s been holding you back, look no further! We’ve got 10 reasons to volunteer here. Keep in mind, there’s no shortage of opportunities available, so try not to get overwhelmed!  Simply think of a cause that’s important to you and find out how you can contribute.
  2. Dine to Donate. If you’re planning to dine out on Valentine’s Day, why not give back to a good cause at the same time?  Seek out a restaurant that donates a portion of proceeds to charity.  Or, host a charitable dinner party and ask attendees to bring a donation. Here is a list of ideas to help you coordinate.
  3. Send a love letter, or two. And we’re not talking about sending a romantic message to your sweetheart. Well, you can do that too, but the love letters we’re referring to are more along the lines of letters of gratitude.  Messages that let the difference makers know how truly special they are.  Express your appreciation for their efforts in making this world a better place.
  4. Brighten the day of someone in need. There are so many people that are either alone, battling illnesses, homeless or are going through challenging times.  What better way to make someone’s day then by surprising them with some tasty treats?  Make a big batch of homemade Valentine’s cookies, and deliver them to people who could use a little cheering up.  Places like nursing homes, children’s hospitals, and homeless shelters are great places to start.
  5. Give gifts that give back. Thinking of surprising your special someone with a gift?  Shop for an item that supports a cause.  Many online shopping sites donate a portion of each sale or the sale of specific products to charity.
  6. Remember those who serve you. Waiters, bus drivers, janitors – each one makes your life a little easier.  Say “thank you” by leaving an extra tip or by verbally expressing your appreciation for them.
  7. Donate. Start spring cleaning a little early and donate un-wanted items to local shelters or donation centers.  Or, make a monetary donation to the charity of your choice.
  8. Exercise for a cause. Can’t get motivated to work out? Do it to support a great cause.  Sign up for a charity 5k walk or run, and get your friends and family involved for some friendly competition!
  9. Show love to animals. Animal shelters are always in need of volunteers. Spend an hour or two of your day taking dogs for walk, cleaning and feeding animals.  Or, take it a step further and adopt a new pet!
  10. Celebrate with small acts of kindness. The week of February 14th is Random Act of Kindness Week.  If you’re picking up lunch or coffee in the drive-through, pay for the person behind you. Even simple things, such as smiling and saying hello to stranger, holding a door for someone or sharing a compliment can really go a long way and brighten someone’s day.

 

February Volunteer Hero

 

When Gretchen McGee attended a luncheon a little over two years ago, she didn’t realize it would lead to a rewarding volunteer opportunity with Junior Achievement.

“When I heard the organization was seeking volunteers, their enthusiasm was contagious,” she explained. “I came back to work and sent an email to all of my co-workers asking for additional volunteers. Within a few hours, I had 22 responses, many of them even volunteered to teach more than one class. I was overwhelmed with pride! It is very rewarding to work for a company filled with so many people who care!”

Since then, she had taught the JA kindergarten program, JA Ourselves, and this year she will teach the 4th grade program, JA Our Region. For Gretchen, teaching young people financial literacy skills is especially important. “I have been employed in banking for over 35 years,” she said. “Every day I see the need to educate the public about financial responsibility. We need to start early and reinforce this as often as possible.”

When asked the best part about volunteering with JA, the answer was an easy one, “Knowing that you are making a difference, even in a small way, feels so good!”

Thanks to Gretchen and all of our volunteers for making JA strong! Keep an eye out for our #ShowTheLove Campaign, starting this Sunday, February 7. It’s a way for us to say thank you to our more than 7,500 volunteers for giving of both their time and talents to help young people. 

Getting Where You Need To Go: 15 Organizations All St. Louis Entrepreneurs Need to Know About

 

What do you need to get your start up off the ground? Authors and entrepreneurs Neal Cabage and Sonya Zhang found that customers, product, timing, competition, finance and team are the key factors in startup success. That’s why places like Silicon Valley, New York and Boston are startup hubs. Entrepreneurs flock there, run into each other and share ideas. Competition is fierce, but necessary, to perfect ideas and get them off the ground. And, investors are plentiful. 

However, other cities around the country, like St. Louis, are beginning to make waves in the startup scene. In 2013, $380 million were invested in St. Louis startups. Topping the list of Popular Mechanics 14 Best Startup Cities in America, it’s an exciting time to be an entrepreneur in St. Louis. 

So, if you have your idea, passion and are willing to put in some long hours to create a business in St. Louis, here are the organizations you must know about:

Accelerate St. Louis is all about connections. It introduces investors to startups, entrepreneurs to the community at large and connects startups with the knowledge and resources they need to succeed.  

Arch Grants wants St. Louis to be a place entrepreneurs look to grow their businesses. In order to do this, they've provide funding to startups through their Arch Grants Global Startup Competition since 2012. Winners receive $50,000 and support services to make their ideas a reality.  

Center for Emerging Technologies (CET) has provided training programs, facilities, support services and access to capital since 1998 to promising bioscience, medical and other technology companies.

Center for Entrepreneurship is part of St. Louis University’s John Cook School of Business. Founded in 1987, the center helps entrepreneurs develop their business ideas and put their plans into action.

Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Education (CEEE) at the University of Missouri in St. Louis offers professional development, community outreach efforts and consulting services with both entrepreneurs and the public.  

Innovate St. Louis acts as a link between entrepreneurs and the world at large and between entrepreneurs and investors. Started in 2007, companies they have worked with have created more than 110 jobs, raised $80 in investments and boast $50 million in annualized revenues.

Innovative Technology Enterprises at UMSL is an incubator space that provides facilities and technology use for science and tech companies.

Information Technology Entrepreneur Network (ITEN) is “entrepreneurs helping entrepreneurs” by providing mentoring opportunities, online resources, and networking events. With programs like their Business Model Validation and Mock Angel Program, new innovators can learn the ropes before standing in front of investors.

Six Thirty invests up to $100,000 in financial technology companies every year in the St. Louis community. Chosen companies are supported through training, mentorship programs and networking opportunities.

Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship is housed at Washington University, which was named to Entrepreneur’s list of Top 25 Colleges for Entrepreneurship in 2015. The center works to encourage entrepreneurship and an innovative and collaborative atmosphere for the university. Additionally, the center provides competitions, skill building opportunities, mentors and internships.

St. Louis Economic Development Partnership is a regional partnership between St. Louis City and St. Louis County to support regional economic development through new businesses, innovation and finance.

St. Louis Regional Chamber helps companies start, expand or move within the Greater St. Louis region.

T-REX encourages collaboration and new ideas through a “network of creativity.” The building offers workspace and community areas for innovators to grow their own ideas and learn from each other.  

Up St. Louis offers programs, events and community activities to encourage entrepreneurship throughout the St. Louis region.

Venture Café St. Louis connects entrepreneurs to each other every Thursday from 3:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the @4240 building. All innovators are invited to discuss their current projects and learn from one another.   

Let us know if we left something off the list in the comments!

JA Career Fair Helps Students Map Their Futures

It’s two weeks into the new year and the office is already buzzing with staff members coordinating in-school programs, students visiting our capstone facilities, our most recent event, the JA Bowl-A-Thon Kick Off Event, and our second JA Career Fair.

Officially less than a week away, the JA Career Fair, is something that everyone in the office agrees we wish we had when we were in high school. Students get to visit with professionals in fields like bioinformatics, human resources, engineering, education and a ton more. They can ask questions like, what do you do all day at your job? What education level do I need in order to land a job in your field? What do you like and dislike about your job? Additionally, skills like how to write a resume, conduct yourself in your first interview and what networking is and why it’s so important for job seekers are covered. As many students are getting ready to either graduate or apply to colleges, could there be a better time to get them seriously thinking about their careers?

If you’re interested in participating in the JA Career Fair, there is still time! The fair is being held Friday, January 23 and Monday, January 26 at JA’s headquarters in Chesterfield. Contact Kristy Odneal at kodneal@jastl.org for more information!

Happy Holidays!

 

We're back from the Thanksgiving break here at JASTL and we couldn't be more excited for the last month of 2014!

What's going on that has our office buzzing? Not only do we love the holiday season, the time with friends and family, and the snow (at least a few of us do), but we're finally launching our 25 Reasons to Give Campaign!

Every day, between December 1 and December 25th, we’ll share with you a member of the JA family, from teachers to board members, from students to JA employees, from principals to volunteers. We’re calling it our 25 Reasons to Give Campaign because we hope it will inspire others to learn about JA and support our mission, through a financial gift or a gift of their time.

We can’t think of a better way to celebrate the holidays than shining a spotlight on those that make us great. Make sure to follow us on our Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest pages to find out who's included in our 25 Reasons to Give. 

‘Tis the season to give! - 5 Reasons You Should Give on #GivingTuesday

Black Friday is only days away, and with it comes Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. But, our favorite has to be #GivingTuesday. Of course, we appreciate the financial gifts from donors to help us continue our mission, but it’s so much more than that. #GivingTuesday is an opportunity to give back and make your community stronger.

1. You’ll feel great!

Research, like this one from Cornell or this survey conducted by UnitedHealthcare and Volunteer Match, overwhelmingly show that giving to charity, either through money or volunteering, is good for both your mental and physical health.You’ll feel connected to a great cause and know that you made a positive impact in your community.

 

2. Your money stays in the community

Giving to a local charity means that you’re directly helping people in your community. Even better, you get to choose exactly what you want to support. Want to see your money at work? Ask your local charity if you can drop by and take a tour and learn more about their programs. It’s exciting to see the tangible results of what you’re supporting.  

 

3. Tax Benefits/Matching Gifts

It’s no secret that giving can be good for your wallet as well. Take advantage of tax deductions and tax credits when april rolls around. If you’re confused on what those benefits might be, check out Charity Navigator. Also, make sure to check with your workplace. Many businesses offer matching gifts, making your donation go that much further!

 

4. Teach your children why giving is important

What greater way to show kids how to give back and help others! Explain to your children why you are contributing money and even let them help choose an organization.You’ll be giving them a great lesson in philanthropy and it will be a great break from all the “I wants” of the holiday season.  

 

5. It’s more than money

Supporting a nonprofit through #GivingTuesday, or anytime of the year, shows what you believe in and what you care about. Nonprofits simply could not exist without the support of generous donors, no matter how great or small the gift. We hope you’ll take the time this Tuesday to give!

 

November Volunteer Hero

 

Junior Achievement was founded in 1919 and has had a presence in the St. Louis region since 1943. Despite our age, we understand how essential technology is to the modern workplace. As most people know, keeping your technology up-to-date is not the easiest task for a busy organization to stay on top of.

That’s why we’re so grateful for volunteers like David Swaw, our November Volunteer Hero. David has been volunteering with JA for fourteen years, supporting the computer systems for the entire Dennis and Judy Jones Free Enterprise Center. This includes our office network as well as the systems used to enhance the student’s capstone experience.

How did David initially get involved with JA? It actually runs in the family. His father was a volunteer with the JA Company Program.

“I remember my dad talking about the program and the product that they made as a group,” David recalled, “It was an automobile safety light made from a headlight, toilet plunger, and some wiring.”

As fate would have it, a company David was working for donated computer services to JA. Originally assigned a four hour project, he’s been helping out ever since.

“It is an amazing place that transforms minds and opens up opportunities that students may never have thought were available to them,” he explained. “All you have to do is share your enthusiasm for your work with the students and listen to the dreams they share with you.”

“Junior Achievement empowers the minds of young people today, and those minds will create the jobs of the future.” We couldn’t have said it better.

Thanks David! 

Computer & Social Skills: Why Young Employees Need Both

 

Last week, JA had the opportunity to welcome Tech Mahindra CEO C.P. Gurnani to a ribbon cutting ceremony at JA BizTown.

Tech Mahindra, a specialist in digital transformation, consulting and business re-engineering solutions, has partnered with us to provide students who visit JA BizTown the tools to learn about html coding. Student CEOs from other JA BizTown companies will meet with student workers at the Tech Mahindra storefront to help them individualize their company website.

Speaking to the students, Mr. Gurnani showcased the widespread application of technology services, saying, “For all of you who are using any kind of a device… we have probably been involved in the technology or the legwork or in the testing of those devices.” He went on to say, “We hope one of these days… when you are going to make a choice about which career to choose, you will consider technology services.”

We’re so excited to have this opportunity to showcase computer science skills to the students that visit JA. Not only are jobs in computer science expected to grow by 62 percent between 2010-2020, but the average starting salary for a computer science graduate is $60,000.

However, the need for students to get hands on experienec with technical skills goes beyond just showcasing computer science as a degree option. Even students who plan to pursue careers outside of computer science need to know their way around a keyboard. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, “62 percent of working Americans use the Internet as an integral part of their jobs.”

What’s more, a degree in computer science, or any field for that matter, is no longer enough to guarantee a job. Employers have been lamenting the lack of soft skills in young job applicants. A 2013 study, conducted by American Express and Millennial Branding indicates that “managers have an overall negative view of young workers, and point to their lack of soft skills regarding communication and interpersonal interactions, time management abilities and willingness to work as a team.” 

What’s the best way to help young people, who will be in the job market before we know it? Help them find the career path that fits their interest and skills while simultaneously teaching them the tenants of professionalism, responsibility, and hard work. We’re excited to work with companies like Tech Mahindra to do just this. 

Meet our JA Volunteer Hero for the Month of October

When we asked around for nominations for our October Volunteer Hero, we immediatly got an email from a program manager nominating Theresa Kipper, telling us, "She's always wililng to go above and beyond!" 

Kipper, Corporate Manager for Financial Systems and Applications with SSM Health Care, first heard about Junior Achievement as a participant when she was in high school.

After participating, and still in high school, she began volunteering to teach elementary students about the basics of business and money management. Since then, she's volunteered with JA, teaching over two dozen classes. 

How does she feel JA has helped her in her career? 

"It makes you think about what you do. I work in healthcare and while i don't directly work with patients, you'll hear comments... [about] what they think of insurance and things. And it makes you reflect on what you're doing in the industry and how people really perceive what you do."

Volunteers like Theresa make us reflect on what we do too! Thanks Theresa for being a JA Volunteer Hero!

 

10 Reasons You Should Start Volunteering Today

 

The hours in our days are filled with working to support our families, car-pooling kids to extra-curricular activities, running errands and more.  Volunteering may be something you have always had a desire to pursue, but due to other priorities – it got pushed aside. 

When considering the benefits of volunteering, you may find that the impact it has on your life, your well-being and your community is truly worth the time invested.  We’ve compiled a top 10 list of the benefits of volunteering; but, don’t be surprised if after your first experience – you discover even more.

 

  1. Make a difference in someone else’s life. Volunteers are absolutely critical to the work of countless non profits. As of 2012, over 64.5 million Americans volunteered 7.9 billion hours, doing everything from walking dogs at the local animal shelter to mentoring a child. The economic value of American volunteers in 2012 was an estimated $175 billion dollars! 
  2. Gain work experience that will improve your resume – making you more attractive to future employers. In fact, a June 2013 report compiled by the Corporation for National and Community Service, found that unemployed volunteers have a 27 percent higher chance than non volunteers of finding a job.
  3. Become a mentor and share your expertise with others. Who did you look up to when you were a child? Did someone help you when you were first starting out in your career? You can be that support system for someone just starting out!
  4. Improve your mental and physical health. The old adage that it's better to give than to receive holds true with volunteering. Research conducted by the UnitedHealth Group showed that 94 percent of respondents who volunteered in the last 12 months said that volunteering improved their mood.
  5. Develop a new skill or gain knowledge about an unfamiliar subject. From public speaking to computer programming, volunteering can provide an opportunity for you to try out something new.   
  6. Network, make new connections and friends. Volunteering gives you the chance to interact with people outside of your immediate social and career network.   
  7. Return the favor. Perhaps you’ve been helped in the past and want to give back to simply express gratitude to that same organization.
  8. Lead by example. Whether you're a business owner, manager, teacher, or parent, you probably have someone that looks up to you. By volunteering, you are demonstrating the importance of giving back and helping others in your community. 
  9. Gain self-confidence by making an impact in your community. There are few things in life that provide more satisfaction than helping others without expecting something in return. You'll feel great about yourself and a community need will have been met. 
  10. Increase your social skills by communicating with others that have a common interest. Not only will you meet and interact with tons of people while you are volunteering, many non profits provide social events for their volunteers. 

So what are you waiting for? JA is always in need of volunteers, and getting started is easy!  You provide the enthusiasm, life experience, and a willingness to teach children about how you took chances to shoot for the stars.  We’ll provide the training, curriculum, and a classroom ready to meet you.

Click here to join us, and start making a difference in the lives of tomorrow’s leaders – today.

JA Goes Back to School

 

It’s back to school time at JA! We’re coordinating with teachers, catching up with our volunteers, and making sure our program kits are ready to go. On top of that, we are in the middle of exciting changes to two of our programs!

For the upcoming school year, both JA Finance Park and the JA Company Program will include more opportunities for students to use technology as JA Finance Park goes paperless and the JA Company Program will begin using a blended method of both in-person instruction and on-line tools. Check out this video to learn more about the updates to the JA Company Program and here to learn more about the new JA Finance Park!

We are also in the process of updating businesses and the overall look of JA Finance Park. Stay tuned for before and after pictures of the facility!

For all the students and parents getting back into the swing of a new school year, JA wishes you good luck and success! We can’t wait to see you this year!

JA Hero Gives Nearly Four Decades of Service

 

“Sure, I’d love to come in and talk about my experience with Junior Achievement. I have to run to the airport that morning, but I can come by after that.” With that, my meeting with Ed True was scheduled. What I didn’t know was that he was going to the airport to drop off international students as part of his work with the Central States Rotary Youth Exchange Program. Making time to speak with us about JA, in between his other volunteer responsibilities, is indicative of Ed True’s life philosophy of giving back to the community.

A retired Air Force pilot, True has been living in O’Fallon for 35 years and has been an Alderman since 1999. He began volunteering with Junior Achievement 39 years ago, working with eighth graders. He explains his experience teaching students as rewarding and credits it with his career move into teaching.

“I was not in the teaching field per say, but at least I started doing it with JA and now, today and for the last 15 years, I’ve been teaching at the college level.” 

In addition to his volunteer work with JA, True has served as a board member for the Leukemia Society, Boy Scouts of America, Senior Olympics, O’Fallon Chamber of Commerce, Bradley Alumni Association, St. Louis Sports Commission, Public Safety Committee, Parks and Environment Board, as well as local school boards.

Thanks to volunteers like Ed True, JA was able to reach over 140,000 students during the 2013-2014 school year. We are so excited to honor True with our first ever Volunteer of the Month award for his decades of service.

Thanks Ed!

 

Welcome to JASTL's New Blog!

Welcome to Junior Achievement of Greater St. Louis’ brand new blog! We’ve been part of the Greater St. Louis community since 1943 and we’ve had the opportunity to impact the lives of millions of children. Last year alone, during the 2013-2014 school year, we reached 140,000 students!

We’re so proud of the work that we do thanks to the dedicated volunteers and businesses that support our mission. This blog will give us a chance to highlight the students, volunteers, teachers, companies, and staff members who work tirelessly to promote financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship education to kindergarten through high school students.

Please reach out to us if you have a story, question, or idea! We’d love to hear from you! 

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