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Team C2

TEAM: C^2

LOCATION:  Junior Achievement of Chicago

Has the team had to overcome any obstacles to be successful and get to the national competition?

I think the biggest obstacle for this team was the fact that this is the very first year that JA Company Program was implemented at our school, so the learning curve for both the students and myself was tremendous.  We set our goal (Mandy Austin, our local representative, Harry Bond, our JA Volunteer, and myself) to pilot this program as an in-school program at our Career Center to demonstrate the learning potential for not just our school, but for the sixteen regional high schools that fed into our Career Center.  Mandy and Harry had the goal of bringing the program to additional schools, and involving more businesses in our area in the future, so the expectations were very high for the small group of students piloting the program this year.  Since I had never done the program before, it was a “learn as you go” and the students were faced with very real "on the job training".  There were weeks where the structure we planned was totally redone as we learned a better, more effective way to teach the concepts while still meeting the JA schedule structure for the program.

Since we are a regional career center, students involved in this company did NOT attend the same high school, nor would they have the opportunity to meet after school to run this company.  The company was small -- only 10 employees total – and the students represented 6 different schools from three different counties.  They came from multiple ethnic, financial and cultural backgrounds, coming together for two hours per day in a blended setting.  Geographically, they were 20-40 miles apart, with different district schedules.  This meant that all of the production, marketing, financials and report writing had to occur during regular class time and work around the schedules of multiple school districts that were not the same.  This meant an extreme amount of shared responsibilities of management and production departments.  One of the special things about this team is the fact that under normal circumstances, these students would be unlikely to ever meet, let alone work on a project of this magnitude together.  They truly represent real miniature business, and the student gain significant insight into how they will need to work with people who come from very diverse backgrounds and with very different talents and personalities in business.

Have the teams faced any significant hurdles that they had to work together to problem-solve as a team?

This team did 100 percent of production in class for their product.  They learned every step of the production process and developed an organized system of assembly, quality control and customization to keep track of their inventory.  The product sold easily and quickly and one of their biggest hurdles was dealing with the sheer volume of custom orders and how to keep track of when the orders were needed by, whether the customer had paid or not, and who sold it and actually produced it.  They quickly developed a custom order form to track colors, covers, customization and quality control.  Their vice president of production spent much of his time learning a database system to track everything from order date to product number.  This taught them the importance of detail in the paperwork they did.  The experienced lost paperwork, incomplete paperwork and ultimately made a company decision to sacrifice individual commissions for about $85 in sales because they could not reproduce accurate records that matched sold product numbers with sales slips for their first week of sales.

Their other big problem-solving situation was determining how to split their net profit between the shareholders and their donation.  At the point they had to make that decision, they had learned the importance of their board meetings in enabling every person to have a voice in the decision making process.  It was a joy to watch them present the issue, discuss all the options, respect each others' opinions, and reach a consensus in an organized meeting.

Do the teams have an innovative, original product that they will be showcasing at the JA Company of the Year competition?

Their product was small, but proved to be extremely versatile.  It was an adaption to a product seen in a fundraiser catalog, and they changed its features to allow it to match their mission of customizing their communities.  They wanted to offer a product that really allowed for customization and that related to the individuality of their customers.  They were proud of their "clip-its" and ultimately learned the real meaning of market segments, discovering they had a great deal more customers than they originally thought.  They also realized the meaning of providing value through their donation.  Being able to market their product with the added benefit of donating a portion of the profits to a local charity dramatically increased their sales.  A 100-page, circular notepad that can clip onto a purse or be used as a child's doodle pad on a long car trip was a simple idea that turned out to have much more appeal that they thought.

Do you know of any personal stories from the students that you think are compelling that they would be willing to share?

This is perhaps the most amazing thing about this team.  A small group of students who set out to make an impact learned so much about themselves in the process – their ability to make a difference, learn about each other and experience "walking a mile in someone else's shoes."  The students always wanted to donate a portion of their profits and searched for the right organization.  They discussed the usual charities, and because it was October, considered donating to Breast Cancer awareness.  One of the students shared a very personal story about domestic violence and an organization that offered shelter to victims of that violence.  She asked the students to consider giving back to that organization, because she had first-hand knowledge about the positive impact of their services.  Most of the students had no idea about what the organization did or even what the term "domestic violence" really represents.  It was an educational experience for them, and they felt they could really make a difference locally by choosing this organization.  So the student that suggested the organization, the president and vice president of public relations attended a Harbor House Board meeting and shared their story and desire to donate to the organization.  I asked the student, Megan, and her mother if they were willing to share their story, and Megan typed her personal story for you below.  It is an example of how a student went full circle from a victim to a survivor to someone who now feels a sense of duty to continue the work of an organization that made a difference in her family.

Other personal stories also exist with this group – tremendous success at the local, regional and national level as a first year program, a JA Volunteer who was part of a JA Company when he was in high school 40 years ago, extreme diversity in a very small company, creative thinking and real teamwork. I saw the benefits of this JA program first hand in a very small group of students and have become a huge advocate of what these young people experience and the amount of pride they take in sharing that knowledge.

Insight from a C2 Team Member: Megan Pilbeam

When I was younger, I went through things that children at such a young age shouldn’t go through or even witness. I lived in an abusive home and, though the abuse was aimed more toward my mother, my sister and I still saw it every day. We were afraid to do or ask for anything. Living in fear like that can really damage a person, especially the mind of a child. Fortunately, my family got out of that situation with a lot of help from Harbor House. Harbor House is a domestic violence shelter close to where I live. They provided my family with counseling, clothing, food and shelter. Though we didn’t stay at Harbor House long, we still got treated like family. I was young when I went, but I can still remember the help we received. That’s something I’ll never forget. My mom was a member with Harbor House for two years. My sister and I got to attend many events held there, but the one I remember most was a Halloween party. My sister was dressed as a pumpkin and I was a Dalmatian. At that party, I saw the smiles on my mom and sister’s faces and that alone let me know that everything from there on out was going to be okay.

As I got older and understood more about what Harbor House is and does, I made a promise to myself that I would do the best I can to, in my own way, help out. I know what it’s like to be in a position to have to go to Harbor House. I wanted other people there to know that they weren’t alone. I’ve been lucky enough to have the chance to do a lot for Harbor House. I’ve donated lots of clothes there. I even participated in the “Telephone Tuesday” project at my school. When we started the JA Company Program and I found out that we could pick a charity to donate any extra profit to I immediately requested Harbor House. Being the Marketing Vice President, I also made sales goals for our company that would exceed the break-even point so Harbor House could get a donation from us. In the end, we were able to donate $202.10 to Harbor House. Giving them the check was the most exhilarating moment in my life, and I can only thank Junior Achievement for allowing me to do so.

-Megan Pilbeam

Team Made by U.S.

TEAM: Made by U.S. Students

LOCATION: Junior Achievement of Georgia- Atlanta District

Have the teams faced any significant hurdles that they had to work together to problem-solve as a team?

In the team’s effort to expose the community to their product, they faced adversity as other established businesses challenged their level of proficiency based on the students’ age. The team collectively overcame this hurdle through demonstrating a strong sense of professionalism and continuing to produce quality products which helped maintain favorable reception by the general public.

Do the teams have an innovative, original product that they will be showcasing at the JA Company of the Year competition?

Yes. The team created personally customized magnets and album beverage coasters using recycled albums to create a vintage look and feel.

Team Made by U.S. prepares for a big day on Capitol Hill to display its project at the JA Company of the Year Competition.

Inspirational Team T.A.B. Overcomes Hardships to Participate in JA Company of the Year Competition

Team: Tables Advertising Business (T.A.B.)

Location: Junior Achievement of Greater Birmingham

Student Story - Tiffany Hill, president, and Stephen Hall, vice president 

One year ago, Stephen Hall and Tiffany Hill were polishing a presentation and preparing for the upcoming showcase of their Junior Achievement business at the 2011 Spirit of Free Enterprise Luncheon.  But instead of doing that, they found themselves digging out of the rubble in their west Jefferson County neighborhoods after one of the most horrific tornado outbreaks in Alabama history.  By the evening of April 27, 2011, both Tiffany and Stephen had lost their homes and worse, some of their neighbors, in the deadliest tornado outbreak in the history of Alabama.

“Living through the tornado was something Stephen and I both will never forget and we will forever be so thankful to all the people that helped us get through that time. Coming back to school and getting in my normal routine, really helped me bounce back,” Tiffany said. “It is very hard for me to put into words how wonderful my experience in Junior Achievement has been. It has been so cool to learn that I am smart enough to create a business on my own and watch it grow. Thank you so much for helping me discover what a great feeling that is.”

The Hueytown High School students, who just completed their senior year, had the opportunity to participate in the National Student Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. from July 30-August 3, 2012.  Tiffany and Stephen, along with their teammates, created a company that sold table-top advertising booklets to local restaurants.  Their team—Tables Advertising Business—specializes in print ads that provide small business with a unique method of reaching target audiences.  They competed against 14 other teams from across the country for the title of Company of the Year.

“I saw some truly horrific things the day the tornado struck and it took me a little longer to get over what I and my family went through. I was withdrawn and quiet for a while, but I am OK today and like Tiffany, I am truly thankful for all the help from my friends and so many people through our community,” Stephen said.

“I want to share my sincere gratitude for Junior Achievement.,” Stephen said. “When I started JA as a junior in high school, I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. I knew nothing about the world of business, never even thought about it and now, thanks to JA, I will be enrolling in Faulkner University next Fall and majoring in business.”

Students from Hueytown High School in Hueytown, Alabama pose for a picture with Congressman Spencer Bachus (R-Alabama), center, Congressional staff members, and President and CEO of Junior Achievement USA, Jack E. Kosakowski (right). The student team—Tables Advertising Business (T.A.B.)—specializes in creating print ads that provides small businesses with a unique method of reaching target audiences. 

And The Winners Are...

The annual U.S. JA Company of the Year Competition is a contest of business skills, ingenuity and innovation that focuses on the accomplishments of JA Company Program students, ages 15-19, during the 2011-2012 academic year.

This years competitors winners are...

1st place: Eagle Eye — Junior Achievement of Southern California Chaminade High School, West Hills, California

2nd place: Cast-A-Waste — Junior Achievement of San Diego Harmonium After School Program, San Diego, California

3rd place: Start-Up — Junior Achievement of Georgia Atlanta, Georgia

At&T Social Innovation Intensive Award: Rain Drain — Junior Achievement of Georgia and Junior Achievement of Southern California 

FedEx Access Award: Undefined — Junior Achievement of Southeast Texas Chinese Community Center, Houston, Texas

Best Financial Performance Award Presented by NYSE Euronext Foundation: Place Mate  — Junior Achievement of San Diego Westview High School, San Diego, California

Social Media Award: Undefined—Junior Achievement of Southeast Texas Chinese Community Center, Houston, Texas

Team G.O.L.D. - Persistence Pays Off!

Team: G.O.L.D. (Go Online and Delete) Company

Location: Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest

Student Story: Lanee Johnson, vice president of public relations

This year our team wanted to design a company around cyber-bullying since we all knew students that have been affected by it and knew it was a hot topic in the media that had become more prevalent with Facebook and Twitter.

We selected and designed a shirt with a strong message of action, believing it would be a big hit and that students and adults would buy a lot of shirts. What we discovered was there were so many other programs and clubs selling shirts and our students don’t have a lot of money to buy shirts, so competition was very challenging and shirt sales were very low and members were losing their drive to sell shirts.

We then decided to create an event that would help to sell shirts. We searched for a great speaker and either a skit, song, or dance to engage a young audience. When the members contacted the theatre teacher, we discovered his

students were so busy getting ready for a spring play, so none of them were available to work with us. We then contacted the executive director, Julie Young-Burns, from Safe and Drug Free Schools at Minneapolis Public Schools and discovered she only presented to parents and adults and had no materials for teens or younger audiences. And then we met with our school administers and were told the auditorium would not be available until April, since it was being used for community events and the school spring play.

Everything we were trying to do was not working out and so the officers got together to develop a new plan to present to our advisor, Mrs. Poelstra and Shane Cropper, Best Buy volunteer.

At our Thursday meeting, the students proposed a plan to quit and give the G.O.L.D company idea to the new group of members next year who could start right away in October and would have much more time to work on the plans. Mrs. Poelstra and Mr. Cropper told us that was not an option and that instead of quitting we needed to change our plan. Then Mr. Cropper shared with us how Best Buy got started and all the struggles and challenges the founder, Richard, had when his first warehouse burned down. Due to his challenges, it created an opportunity to come up with another plan and look at where Best Buy is today.

We all got recharged and changed our plan. The new plan consisted of having the Young Madness Steppers (dance team at Thomas Edison) and Alison Feigh, M.S. Community Safety Specialist from the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center, as our speaker for our assembly turned out to be a better selection that really engaged and educated the students. And in turn, we invited Julie Young-Burns to the assembly and gave her a copy of the DVD we made of the assembly so she could use it during her presentations. We then made copies and gave to all the Minneapolis Public Schools.

We won first place in Regional’s and have now qualified for Nationals and never would have been able to do any of this if we would have given up.

Student Story: Matthew Vue, president

A big obstacle that I had to deal with in the G.O.L.D Company was in relation to my attendance at the meetings. As President, I was required to be at every meeting, which was very hard and challenging since I was a senior and taking all my classes (but Physics) at a community college through the Post-secondary Education program. It seemed like the scholarships, college applications, and deadlines that I was working on were due at the same time all the work was due for G.O.L.D. Being a part of the program really taught me time management skills.

After we won Regional’s in April, we had to keep selling our t-shirts and promoting our program to gear up for Nationals, which was even more challenging since we had projects, finals, and graduation.

This summer we faced another huge challenge and that was in creating a commercial for the National Competition. We succeeded though through team collaboration and time management.

One day we selected to meet to video tape, but our advisor could not be there since she just had surgery on her shoulder and one of our other officers was in Mexico. However, we met anyway and were able to use parts from each to create our video. We learned that persistence pays off!

Check out team G.O.L.D.'s event flyer!

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