Students Giving Back as JA High School Heroes

Original Story from Junior Achievement of Chicago

This fall semester, we were able to begin implementing a truly impactful initiative in Hammond, Indiana. Through a partnership with the School City of Hammond school district, JA programs will be taught in every 8th, 11th and 12th grade classroom in Hammond, Indiana this school year. One of those schools participating is George Rogers Clark Middle/High School (aka Clark).

On October 25th, Junior Achievement volunteers presented “JA Career Success” to 13 classrooms of juniors and seniors at Clark. What the Clark students didn’t know was that there was a second part to the High School event. Certain students would be chosen to participate in JA themselves as a JA High School Hero.

We decided to not automatically send the honor roll kids- we wanted to give every Clark student a chance! To do this, we left it up to the JA volunteers. While implementing “JA Career Success” to the juniors and seniors, we asked our volunteers to pay attention to who was really engaged and participating, and at the end of their JAID, each volunteer selected 2 students from their class that stood out.

As I sat with my Clark contact going over the list of students, she was shocked at who’d been selected. Sure, there were some students she’d expected to be on there, but at least half of the names where students that she did not expect!

In the end, 15 juniors and seniors from Clark High School were able to participate in the JA High School Heroes program at the neighboring Franklin Elementary School. They worked with the Kindergarten-2nd grade classes, and had a FANTASTIC time!

As I watched them in action in the elementary classrooms, I felt extremely proud to be a part of Junior Achievement. This was a life changing experience for many of these Clark students. First, they were told by a complete stranger that they had earned the privilege to participate, based on their behaviors. Then they were trusted with a lot of responsibility while preparing. Finally, they got to experience that warm fuzzy feeling our volunteers love so much when you give selflessly and help impact youth.

I know that JA programs have a number of wonderful benefits, but one of the challenging things is that most of the time we are only planting the seeds for many of those benefits, and we don’t get to see them bloom. I often see firsthand that our programs educate students on financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship, but this was the first time I saw it impact self-esteem and self-worth. It was an incredible experience from beginning to end, and I can’t wait to do it again in the spring!

Enhancing Education

Original Story from Junior Achievement of Upstate South Carolina

A JA volunteer from India taught JA Personal Finance to students at a charter school in Greenville, SC,  where 100% of the students qualify for free and reduced lunch. He then sent this tribute to the volunteer, the educator, and the students. “Tom” is the teacher.

I finished my last class this morning. I've got to tell you that I immensely enjoyed working with Tom. He ad-libbed with me, showing the kids that we were a team, throughout all of the classes. At the beginning of the second class, he had his entire class rise up, bow with both hands folded and greet me with the words, Namaste, a formal greeting in India. I was touched! And the greetings continued through all sessions. Very nice touch. This morning, as we handed out the certificates, Tom played the classical graduation piece, Pomp and Circumstance. How can anyone top that? The next time Tom has a JA course, sign me up. Period.

Thank you to both our wonderful volunteer as well as educators for enhancing education around the world.

Celebrity Media Bowling Challenge

Original Story from Junior Achievement of Western New York

On January 11, local media talent competed in a five-frame bowling showdown to win the JA Golden Bowling Pin at the Junior Achievement of WNY (JA) Media Celebrity Bowling Challenge.

Winning both bragging rights and the JA Golden Bowling Pin was Tom Puckett from WBEN NewsRadio 930, who bowled the highest score of 97 points. Alex Haight from Time Warner Cable News and Rich “The Bull” Gaenzler from 97 Rock and bowled the second and third highest scores of 83 and 81 points, respectively. Top Team score went to WYRK 106.5. Transit Lanes donated prizes to the top team and second place winners. In good fun, JA added a prize for the lowest bowling score. Dale Mussen from WYRK 106.5 was a good sport and accepted the award with a smile!

Other participating media talent included Jeff Russo from WKBW 7 Eyewitness News, Scott Patterson from Time Warner Cable News, Liz Mantel, Clay Moden and Dale Mussen from WYRK 106.5, Heather Waldman from WGRZ Channel 2, and Kim Piazza and John DiSciullo of WBBZ-TV.

JA student Jakob Carney from Hutch-Tech High School threw the ceremonial first ball to kick-off the event. Laura Dolan, Senior Vice President, Market Manager, Enterprise Business and Community Engagement for Bank of America, Title Sponsor of the JA Bowl-A-Thon, and JA classroom volunteer, presented prizes to all winners. Local JA students from Hutch-Tech High School and Thomas Edison Elementary School were also present.

The Gift of Time...

How one loss led to a fulfilling outcome volunteering with JA and maybe a new career path as well!

Original Story from JA of the Palm Beaches & Treasure Coast volunteer, Brent Ehrlich.

About two months ago, my world changed significantly! After 20 years of continuous employment and career growth, suddenly I found myself with a previously precious resource now in abundance. Time!

I definitely found this break in the “action” great at first. There was lots of time for family, reading and hours (well, days really) of drum and bass guitar playing! However, after a couple of weeks, I quickly discovered something I really enjoyed was missing.

Coaching, mentoring and helping others be successful!

So I made three decisions right away.

1: I would “temporarily pause” focusing on my next career move.

2: I would focus on helping those who need it the most...our future workers and leaders.

3: I would make a difference and have fun doing so!

However, where would I find something that leveraged my experiences in business and my passion to help others? Almost immediately, I remembered a program my youngest son attended when he was in elementary school. The program was JA BizTown – Mobile and he couldn’t stop talking about the fun he had at school running a store and learning about careers.

So with my “research” complete, I went to the JA site and clicked this handy icon.

Shortly thereafter, I was assigned, trained and ready to teach the “JA It’s My Future” program to one period of 6th graders at Lantana Community Middle School. I showed up to school, ready for the first lesson with the following:

1: My super stylish JA bag.

2: Some “reward” money I created to encourage participation

3: Uncertainty about what I was about to do

4: Certainty that I would make a difference!

The first class went great! The students were thrilled to start the program. Possibly the break from history lessons helped too. They listened and seemed to have a good time earning “Mr. Brent” dollars for their participation. Making these dollars redeemable for extra credit points probably didn’t hurt either. Thank you Ms. McHenry for enabling my “fake” currency to have real value!

I survived the first class and was hooked!

Following a great first session, and with an abundance of time on my hands, I asked the teacher if she would like me to teach her other five periods as well. She clearly thought I was crazy, but agreed on the spot as no other volunteers were lined up yet. I quickly reached out to the JA office asking for an emergency drop off of more supplies. After getting past their similar concern for my sanity, we all moved on and my car’s trunk became a little bit heavier in the process!

What did the students learn?

Sure, this is a feel good story. While I am feeling pretty good about this experience, it’s the students that really matter. And this is where the feel good story really becomes a feel great one! Over the six weeks, the students learned about personal branding, career clusters, high-growth careers, career mapping and how to land and keep a job. But what really stood out to me was how much improvement was made with confidence.


Students See into Their Career and Financial Futures

Original Story from JA of Wisconsin regarding Edgewood Elementary in Greenfield, WI.

JA of Wisconsin received this fantastic letter from a parent volunteer regarding their experience in JA BizTown.

“Hello, I wanted to let you know how impressed I am with JA BizTown.  This was my second year helping out and I really enjoy watching the students take on leadership roles in their jobs and see them make choices with their money.  The program is well-run, the employees are professional and the entire JA BizTown concept will have a long-term, positive impact in preparing students for their career and financial future.  I would encourage all schools to put their students through this program because of the positive effect it will have on the students.

I want to give a special shout-out to the Culver’s team.  Each student took initiative and a pride of ownership in their job.  Arthur got to work immediately to pay bills and create payroll, Madison kept the soda supply going, Riley was ready to meet every customer with a smile and Jamisen was prepared to help out wherever it was needed.  I was especially impressed with Herminio, as the CEO, you get pulled in several directions and he handled the chaos with calm and poise.  A good quality in any CEO is to have humility to realize that you are never “too important” for any job.  All day long, Herminio was ready o clean tables and sweep the floor with the rest of his team.  His style of leading by example is the sign of a true leader.

Nice work to all the 5th graders, the day was rewarding for me; I hope the kids enjoyed it as much as I did.”

Hats off to the entire Capstone Team (Melisse’ Wen, Kathy Ladich, Dot Rasmussen, Dawn Cwiklinski,Todd Beutin, Alexandra Hoslet, Denette Kobasick, Karen Brimley, Angie Johnson, Deb Dimberg, Donna Walker, RaChandra Peoples, and Anna Downs)  for giving each person an amazing experience in JA BizTown!

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Press Releases

JA USA® Press Releases



  • "Junior Achievement has given me a sense of what adults go through with budget issues."

    -Junior Achievement Student
  • "Junior Achievement reinforced concepts for me to remember later in life."

    -Junior Achievement Student
  • "I thought the experience was amazing. The presentation was unlike anything I've seen."

    -Junior Achievement Student
  • "I liked how the Junior Achievement volunteer explained his job to us."

    -Junior Achievement Student

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