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Potential Realized With Junior Achievement

I remember when I first started high school as a freshman.  For me, and I suspect, for most students, it was a scary feeling not knowing anybody and feeling uncomfortable because of fear of not fitting in, or fear of being criticized by others. It was hard, because at the time I didn’t know what my potential was, or what direction my future was heading.

Fortunately, this is when Junior Achievement came into my life and inspired me to step away from what was comfortable and familiar to grow as a student and as a human being. JA showed me the benefits of trying new things, meeting new people, and pushing past fear to expand my horizon. I learned about the importance of passion and vision. I also learned that failure is just another step in the journey toward success, and that the ability to get back up and carry on after being knocked-down and discouraged is an important marker of success. The rewards have been many, and thanks to the support and encouragement of JA volunteers, each success leads to another as my confidence and business skills grow and improve.

Thanks to the Student of the Year scholarship from JA New York, in the second week of July I will attend top college choice, Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs. I will study the two things I am most passionate about - business and government.  By combining my interest in Political Science and Economics, one day I hope to return to Queens NY to serve as a powerful voice advocating for needs in my community. And just think - all of this would have been seemed impossible to me 4-5 years ago when I first started high school as a nervous and scared freshman.

I want to thank Junior Achievement and all the business and community volunteers and supporters who give time and resources to help guide so many students like me into adulthood by providing us with the knowledge,  support and confidence we truly need to wake up to our potential and the full range of possibilities in life.


Submitted by Joseph Hernandez, JA New York Alumnus

Class of 2015, Academy of Finance & Enterprise

2014 JA New York Student of the Year

The Innovation Generation

I've said it for years--future generations must become more entrepreneurial in order to compete in our connected, globalized economy. With over 30% of the workforce comprised of freelancers and business owners--and that percentage expected to grow in the coming years--this is no longer theory. The innovation generation is here to stay. It is a must - a reality - that cannot be ignored by educators, parents, or private enterprise. Thankfully, it is always a pleasure to see Junior Achievement and its volunteers leading by example--preparing the next generation for a career landscape far different than the one navigated by the Boomers and Generation X.

Recently, I had the pleasure of judging Junior Achievement of New York's Business Plan Competition on behalf of YEC's Mentorship Network, a program where Young Entrepreneur Council members give their time to entrepreneurship educations programs and organizations. Not only did the student teams have a firmer understanding of business than I ever did at their age, but they also exemplified a courage and confidence rarely exhibited by their peers. After all, it isn't easy to stand in front of an accomplished judging panel of corporate executives and entrepreneurs (and a Spanish Inquisition-style Kevin O'Leary-esque judge like myself) and thoroughly present a business idea from conception to execution; one, mind you, that was thoughtfully and carefully born in a classroom only 8 weeks earlier.

Yet in these incredible students, I once again saw the impact that JA has on young people. There is no "curriculum" alone that could have taught those students how to pitch their businesses in such a profound and articulate manner. Rather, JA’s dedicated staff and volunteers fundamentally understand how to mold minds through practical, real-world experience. In addition to traditional book learning, they nurture success by allowing for failure and experimentation rather than teaching to a book or a lesson.

YEC and I proudly support Junior Achievement and JA New York. I advise other business professionals to get involved as volunteers and participate in similar JA activities. If not, do so at your own risk. Undoubtedly, your fiercest competition will wisely hire these kids, or our young innovators will build the startup that eats your company for lunch. I suggest you give back and get on their good side now.

Submitted by Scott Gerber

About Scott Gerber

Scott Gerber is the founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council, an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, and co-founder of Founder Society, an invitation-only organization for ambitious startup founders and business owners. He is also the author of the book Never Get a “Real” Job, an internationally syndicated columnist, the host of Inc. Magazine's Founders Forum and Executive Producer for Forbes programming. Scott has been featured in hundreds of publications, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Bloomberg, Fortune, TIME, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, Reuters, Mashable, Forbes, The Daily Beast, CBS News, US News & World Report, Fox News, Inc. and Entrepreneur, and has been honored by NASDAQ and the White House. Follow him on Twitter at @scottgerber. Visit scottdgerber.com for more info.


Alternative Spring Break

Each spring thousands of college and university students switch from hitting the books to hitting the party circuit in their nearest beach town. For them, SPRING BREAK can be one, long, Vegas style adventure.

Other students see spring break as an opportunity to contribute and grow through meaningful volunteer activities and community service projects.  Each spring, we work with select local and national college and university groups who wish to trade in their beach towels for a JA kit and a volunteer assignment to inspire and prepare some of NYC’s highest need student populations to succeed in school and in life. They invest their time and knowledge in an alternative spring break with JA New York.

This year six students from the University of Texas-Dallas, travelled to NYC to spend three days teaching JA It’s My Business, JA Global marketplace, and JA Economics for Success to 360 PS 206 Brooklyn 6th-8th graders.  In addition, they volunteered for another two days at Capital One / JA Mobile Finance Park in downtown Brooklyn, where they helped students from Richmond Hill and the navigate through some critical  budgeting and spending decisions.

 “Our experience was fantastic! We all had a wonderful time and we especially appreciated the range of lessons and experiences that were available to us. All of us had our own favorite day/age group during the week’s volunteer experience with Junior Achievement. Where else would you get an opportunity to work with 6th graders all the way up through high schoolers?  We also want to compliment your team members, as they were all incredibly thoughtful and considerate of our group and asked great questions during breaks and lunch to help our team members think and grow through our Junior Achievement experience in NYC. Thank you JA!”

--UT-Dallas Volunteer

Click here for more information about college and university partner opportunities with JA New York.





Why I Walk the Entrepreneurship Path

I volunteer with Junior Achievement where I coach three Brooklyn Technical High School student teams to develop business plans, from scratch, for the 2015 JA New York Business Plan Competition.

This particular volunteer opportunity combines two things that mean a lot to me - entrepreneurship and Brooklyn, the borough where I grew up. The JA New York Business Plan Competition is a nice reminder of what originally sparked my interest in starting a business. It is not about raising rounds, or valuations, or press coverage; it is about creating cool products and services that fascinate and inspire people. It is about creating seemingly “magical” products that revolutionize the way people do work and go about their daily lives. Listening to my students brainstorming ideas, and seeing them become excited about the potential impact of their business ventures is a great reminder of why I walk the entrepreneurship path.

From personal experience, I know how hard it is to find mentors and thought partners when you are in the early stages of building a business.  Through this opportunity, I have learned how important it is for young people to develop a core set of transferable career skills – the kind of skills that transcend any single position, function, or industry, for example, the ability to collaborate, to think critically, and to solve problems.

While growing up, I was lucky to get glimpses into the working world. Unfortunately, far too often those glimpses were into the same narrow industries--law, finance, and medicine. For high school students, it can feel quite limiting to be steered toward these traditional career paths. This is why it makes sense for more business professionals of all ages and of all backgrounds to volunteer with Junior Achievement.  Our experiences, knowledge, and insights have the power to open up a world of possibilities for young people by showing them the endless potential in the new economy to pursue different paths to success and career satisfaction.

Click here for more information about volunteer opportunities with JA New York.


Born and raised in Flatbush, Brooklyn, New Yorker, Xavier Stewart, is the Co-Founder and CEO of a tech start-up, Driven Labs. Driven Labs develops innovative tech tools to support independently owned and operated automotive repair shops. Xavier is a graduate of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, where he studied political science and history. After graduating from college, he worked on two mayoral campaigns for former NYC Mayor, Michael Bloomberg.  Xavier then worked for the Bloomberg administration as the Avenue NYC program manager in New York City's Department of Small Business Services.

Cycle for Success with JANY!

If you are looking for a new way to get involved with Junior Achievement then look no further than our newest event - the "Cycle for Success: Pursuit Pedal Party" This is the perfect way to fit in your daily trip to the

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  • "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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