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EY Connect Day: As Told by JA New York Associates

On Friday, October 5th, 2018, over 600 volunteers from Ernst & Young delivered Junior Achievement programming across 8 school partners, reaching over 4,500 students from Kindergarten to 12th grade. This incredible array of JA in a Day is part of EY's annual day of service, EY Connect Day, during which employees all over the country participate in volunteer activities with hundreds of non-profit organizations.
We asked two of our new Program Associates, Emma Ross and Cara Minnix, to tell us about their experience during their first EY Connect Day. Check out what they said:
Emma Ross
My first EY Connect Day was an impressive and inspiring event. I was working with the students and staff at PS 197. At the beginning of the day, you could sense the excitement and nervousness of the volunteers as they quickly reviewed their materials for the lessons and discussed plans with their co-teachers. As I walked around the classrooms later in the morning and afternoon, I could see that their nervousness had melted away into the energy and passion that translated into their teaching. This passion and enthusiasm made the lessons come alive and engage students. You could see how happy each volunteer was to participate in the event and the effect that a volunteer had on the students’ learning.
The students of PS 197 have a great deal of experience with EY and Junior Achievement. Every year EY comes to their school and builds their knowledge of work readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy. Despite their continued exposure, you could see their students excited to be learning with EY again. You can see the pride shining in their eyes as they were answering questions, talking with the volunteers, and completing the activities. The students were excited to demonstrate their knowledge and abilities to the EY volunteers. The event taught the students not only about finance and entrepreneurship, but also that the students' ideas and learning mattered to more than just their family, their school, and themselves. EY Connect Day demonstrated the best of the Junior Achievement program. Beyond simply educating students, it teaches them their power within the community and society. Each grade level, each activity, and each opportunity provides students with the knowledge they need to take control of their financial future. In one day, EY volunteers had the opportunity to make a fundamental difference in a child's perception of their role in the world. 
As a new member of the Junior Achievement team, EY Connect Day was a spectacular experience. I was able to see the effect of the Junior Achievement program in person. Furthermore, I was able to see the personal impact the program had on volunteers and students. After they completed their time at PS 197, many volunteers were asking about more opportunities to work with the school and Junior Achievement. The students and teachers asked when we were coming in again. The day encapsulated the best of the Junior Achievement mission and programs and left me excited for future opportunities.  
Cara Minnix
My first day at Junior Achievement of New York was September 10, 2018. Less than one month later, I found myself in charge of a JA Day at a high school during one of our biggest service days of the year, EY Connect Day. Even though I am a brand new Programs Associate, EY serves so many students at so many different schools in one day every year that all hands are on deck. This means that people who still can’t figure out how to connect their work computer to the WiFi in their apartment end up as the main JA person at some schools. In my case, I was stationed at Urban Assembly School of Business for Young Women.
Arguably the biggest challenge of the day was faced at the very beginning. The school is located in the heart of the Financial District, which means we had to dodge around tourists trying to see the “Charging Bull” statue in order to get to the school. The main entrance is somewhat hard to find, and once you’re in the lobby, you have to fight against waves of students from the three different schools in the building to get into an elevator to take you to the correct floor. Once everyone managed to get to the library, it was pretty much smooth sailing.
Luckily for me, EY has been doing this event for many years, so all of our coordinators are seasoned pros. The EY leaders at my school were immensely helpful with organizing the volunteers, making certain everyone was in the right room at the right time, and ensuring we all ate way too much pizza during lunch.  I expected my day to be stressful and frantic, but because of the diligence of everyone at EY, it was stress-free and calm. We even had every single one of our volunteers show up, and no one forgot their bright yellow shirt!
I spent most of my day walking around to various classes to observe, wearing a large nametag to guarantee I did not get mistaken for a student (we were in a high school, after all). Every single time I went into a classroom, students and volunteers alike were engaged in what they were doing. Though some classes made it through the material faster than others, it was clear that the students were interested in what the volunteers were trying to teach and the volunteers cared what the students had to say. Because I was in a high school, there is a lot of freedom to have discussions within the curriculum. One of my favorite things to see throughout the day was students who had a ton of questions for their volunteers about what their jobs are and how they got there. Many students do not get to interact with adults who have careers that are different from their teachers or family members, so being able to speak freely with their volunteers gives them a new perspective on what they might do in the future. 
Being able to see firsthand how students react to JA programs is an incredible experience. You can read through the curriculum as many times as you want, but it truly does not compare to seeing students experience it with real volunteers who genuinely care about helping the students. It’s hard to measure the impact of just one day on a student, but based on what I saw in the classrooms, these young women will be better able to take on the world after some of these lessons. Plus, it’s hilarious to see a bunch of high schoolers making fun of a volunteer who can’t draw a good representation of the Adidas logo during a lesson on branding.
Check out more photos from EY Connect Day here! To get involved with EY Connect Day next year, or to volunteer with another program, contact us here.

Taevon Allen: A True High School Hero

Every day at Junior Achievement of New York, we see young lives changed for the better. As an organization that has worked in the greater New York area for nearly 90 years, we’ve experienced a lot of change, but one thing that never changes is the need to empower young people to seize their opportunities in life.

Taevon Allen, a recent graduate from Mount Vernon High School in Mt. Vernon, NY, is one student whose life was transformed by Junior Achievement of New York’s High School Heroes. His first JA experience happened when he was just 10 years old, when some of JA’s High School Heroes visited his class in 5th grade and taught him about sound decision-making and basic personal finance concepts.

Through hands-on activities, Taevon and his classmates gained crucial knowledge of money management and budgeting, all thanks to a group of high school students committed to fostering the next generation of leaders. When they discussed budgeting, Taevon said, “I learned aspects of financial management that school just doesn’t teach us.” 

A few years later, Taevon continued his involvement with JA by becoming the Hero that once served him as young student. He signed on to become a High School Hero, paying his JA experience forward to local elementary students. “That was my biggest JA highlight,” he said, “teaching young kids the same financial and life skills that I was once taught as a 5th grader. Junior Achievement has really been a full circle experience for me and has given me the opportunity to give back to my community.”

Taevon truly is a Hero, as was the young person who taught him many years ago. Because of the support of JA’s champions, Taevon had the opportunity to dive deep into aspects of the real world that often aren’t taught in schools. Taevon graduated high school last June, empowered and prepared to take on the next steps in his journey to success, however he may define it.

Help us continue to pay forward the gift that Taevon and his fellow Heroes have provided for their younger peers. Support JA High School Heroes by making a donation at www.jany.org/givingtuesday.

Q&A with TCS NYC Marathon Runner, Mike Puttock

Mike Puttock, 30, is joining Team JA New York from across the pond with his friend Sean Hall for his first marathon. Check out his most important running accessories, how a little friendly competition is the right kind of motivation, and more!
Q: How did you get involved with JA New York?
A: I got involved through my dearest friend Sean Hall. 
Q: Why did you decide to run the 2018 TCS NYC Marathon?
A: I have always wanted to run a marathon and have tried many times to get into the London Marathon. Unfortunately I’ve never been accepted. I was offered an opportunity to run the NYC Marathon and couldn’t pass up the opportunity. 
Q: Who/what is your biggest motivation to train?
A: Sean Hall – my main motivation to train is so that I can beat Sean Hall. He’s had around a month’s head start on training but I am not far behind! 
Q: How do you measure success as a runner?
A: Distance covered in the shortest amount of time. 
Q: What is the best running/training lesson you’ve learned?
A: Make sure your trainers are suited to you, and, for myself, wear knee supports. 
Q: What are your favorite pre- and post-run meals?
A: Pre = toast, post = anything I want! 
Q: What are some songs on your favorite running playlist?
A: •Calvin Harris gets me by quite well. Also, rap music and house and electro. 
Click here to support Mike's campaign for JA New York!

Q&A with 2018 TCS NYC Marathon Runner, Cristina Carrazza

Cristina Carrazza, 27, will be completing her third marathon this November with Team
 JA New York. Check out why Junior Achievement's mission supports her career, how training has affected her life, who will be singing in her headphones as she crosses the finish line, and more!  

Q: How did you get involved with JA New York?
A: I am a developmental psychologist and my research focuses on promoting children’s early math learning. Through my work, I know just how important math competence is for helping children fulfill their potential. My father used to be a JA teacher while he was in business school and introduced me to the organization. It felt serendipitous to combine my love for running and passion for math education and join Team JA New York as I train for my dream race.
Q: Why did you decide to run the 2018 TCS NYC Marathon?
A: The NYC Marathon has always been my dream race. There is something magical about shutting down the greatest city in the world and running 26.2 through all five boroughs with 50,000 strangers. With 3 other marathons under my belt, I finally feel ready to tackle those Central Park hills and make this dream a reality. 
Q: Who/what is your biggest motivation to train?
A: Proving that little voice in my head that tells me I’m too slow/lazy/loser wrong. Also, the indescribable glory that comes from crossing a finish line.
Q: How do you measure success as a runner?
A: Accomplishing something I didn’t think I could do – whether that is running longer, faster, or stronger - and embracing the fact that “success” means something different for each race. 
Q: What is the best running/training lesson you’ve learned?
A: Long distance running has shown me endless times that I can do hard things. It’s not about time or speed but about finishing something arduous and not giving up when it gets hard. Every day I put in the work to make the impossible a little more accessible. 
Q: What is the most challenging part of marathon training?
A: Early alarms on hot summer days. My friends might also mention the fact that my social life is now nonexistent or that I seem to only talk about training. 
Q: What are your favorite pre- and post-run meals?
A: Start bland with toast, peanut butter, banana, and coffee. Finish by treating yourself to the breakfast you promised yourself 3 hours into a long run that pushed you to the finish. 
Q: What are some songs on your favorite running playlist?
A: “Error Operator” by Taking Back Sunday, “All I Want” by A Day to Remember, Pitbull’s early catalogue, and of course “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys as I visualize myself crossing the finish line in Central Park come November.  
Click here to support Cristina's campaign for JA New York!

Q&A with 2018 TCS NYC Marathon Runner, Sean Hall

Runners from across the pond have joined Team JA New York! Sean Hall, 31, will be traveling from London for the 2018 TCS NYC Marathon. Check out Sean's running motivation, favorite post-run snack, and the importance of good running shoes.

Q: How many other marathons have you run?   
A: This is my first one and I’m so excited. I’m from London so I even upgraded my plane ticket over, so I can enjoy the whole experience. 
Q: How did you get involved with JA New York?  
A: A friend of a friend works for this wonderful charity and as soon as I heard about them, I couldn’t wait to sign up. 
Q: Why did you decide to run the 2018 TCS NYC Marathon?
A: I have never run a marathon before, but I have always had huge respect for anyone who completes one. Coming from the UK, it’s also extra exciting to be running it in another city. It’s also great motivation to train and live a healthy lifestyle.   
Q: Who/what is your biggest motivation to train?
A: I’ll be running the marathon with my best friend Michael who will not let me forget about it if he beats me. Each run that I go on, I think about losing to him, which spurs me on! 
Q: How do you measure success as a runner?
A: You set a personal goal and then you go out there and try to achieve that. There will always be someone faster, better or stronger than you, but you need to set your own targets and then try to smash them. I’ve set a target of running the Marathon in under 4 hours so each training session I run that little bit harder and little bit faster. 
Q: What is the best running/training lesson you’ve learned?
A: Running in the correct pair of trainers. I always had aches and pains when I ran in my old trainers until I bought a proper running pair. Now it’s like running on a cloud and just have to work on my fitness!
Q: What is the most challenging part of marathon training?
A: Finding the energy to go to the gym or get out there on the roads. It’s so easy to skip a run, but you’re only cheating yourself. It’s a mental challenge. Knowing you have to run a 14k or a 16k today is daunting, but you just have to do it. Not every run will be your best run, but it all counts. 
Q: What are your favorite pre- and post-run meals?
A: My favorite post meal is a peanut butter protein shake! It’s not really a meal and I shouldn’t be allowed to have one a lot but it’s so nice after a run!
Q: What are some songs on your favorite running playlist?
A: I haven’t found my perfect running playlist yet. I’m in desperate need of suggestions!!
(JA New York recommends checking out fellow runner Max's playlist here!)
Click here to support Sean's campaign for Junior Achievement of New York!
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Press Releases

JA Press Releases



  • "JA activities support our college and career readiness expectations as they bridge connections to real world experiences and professions" – Hazel Cruz, PS 83

    -Junior Achievement Teacher
  • "I learned that running a business includes a lot of work! You have to know how to run it, how much to pay your employees and much more." – PS 83

    -Junior Achievement Student
  • "Guess what? A volunteer from Junior Achievement came to my class! I learned that cities are places to live, eat, work and play." – Justin, PS 83

    -Junior Achievement Student
  • "Junior Achievement has given me my blueprint for success in college and beyond. JA has allowed me to grow as a student, entrepreneur, and as a future college student." – Kaiyell Pettie

    -Junior Achievement Alumnus
  • "JA volunteers give children tangible examples of the unlimited opportunities available to them."

    -Junior Achievement Volunteer

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