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Shark Tank-style Event with Celebrity Judges to Award $10,000 Scholarship

Four teen-aged Business Owners vying for scholarships in Junior Achievement Young Entrepreneur Live Competition on January 28

MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin (January 11, 2021) – Four Wisconsin teen entrepreneurs will compete for a $10,000 scholarship in a Shark Tank-style competition hosted by Junior Achievement of Wisconsin, sponsored by Ernst & Young on January 28. The first ever Young Entrepreneur Live Competition features a panel of five celebrity judges and will be streamed live from location at Majic Productions in Waukesha. Interested viewers can register to watch the free event live here.

Just like the popular TV show Shark Tank, each student entrepreneur operates their own business and sells a product or service. Finalists will present their business and state their case for earning the scholarship to the judges. The judges will critique their businesses, ask the entrepreneurs questions, and offer constructive feedback.

“Entrepreneurship is one of the core pillars of Junior Achievement,” said Michael Frohna, President of Junior Achievement. “Similar to the classroom and community programming Junior Achievement offers, the Young Entrepreneur Live Competition embodies that entrepreneurial spirit in a new generation of American leaders.”

Celebrity judges include:

  • Craig Culver, Co-Founder, Board Chairman, Brand Ambassador – Culver’s
  • Christine Specht, CEO – Cousins Subs
  • Craig Karmazin, Founder and CEO – Good Karma Brands
  • Denise Thomas, President and Owner – The Effective Communication Coach

Finalists competing in the Young Entrepreneur Live Competition:

  • Jonah Larson, 13, of La Crosse – Jonah’s Hands
  • Carter VanHaren, 17, of Brookfield – American Maker
  • Madison Russell, 17, of Shullsburg – Prime Time Performance
  • Tessa Gehri, 17, of Wonewoc – T. Gehri Caprine Artificial Insemination Services

Among dozens of entries from across the state, four finalists were selected to compete based on the following criteria: Charisma/Hustle, Business Success, Growth Potential, and Social Involvement. Other considerations included the entrepreneur’s age when the business was started, special challenges faced, strategic direction, innovation, personal integrity, and leadership.

In addition to the $10,000 Grand Prize Scholarship, the other three finalists will receive $1,500 scholarships, and one student will receive a $500 cash viewer’s choice award based on live voting during the streaming event. Scholarship money was made possible through event sponsors and donations from generous community leaders and business owners.

Young Entrepreneur Live Competition by sponsorship level:

Founding Sponsors

  • Ernst & Young
  • Johnsonville
  • ManpowerGroup
  • T&M Partners

Viewer’s Choice Award Sponsor

  • Russ Darrow Automotive Group

Crowdfunding Sponsor

  • BMO Harris Bank

Venture Sponsors

  • Paul & Terri Danola
  • Douglas Dynamics
  • FIS
  • Heartland Funds
  • Mason Wells
  • Muth Mirror Systems
  • Patti & Jack McKeithan Northwoods Foundation
  • Rockwell Automation
  • Walbec Group
  • Wintrust

Junior Achievement of Wisconsin Launches First-Ever Virtual Business Simulations for Students

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – Imagine an online experience that allows elementary school students to become CEO of their own business.  Or an interactive lesson that shows students how businesses depend on marketing and sales to grow.  Or a simulation that allows students to understand the challenges of living within a family budget.  That’s exactly what happens in two new online simulation experiences from Junior Achievement of Wisconsin.  During the 2020-21 school year, students across Wisconsin will be able to participate in two new premier programs, the new JA BizTown Adventures® and JA Virtual Finance Park®.

JA BizTown Adventures is a culminating experience for 4th through 6th grade students that have completed the JA BizTown self-guided curriculum. Students use the “choose your own adventure” simulation to learn how to run a business as they take on the roles of chief executive officer, chief financial officer, marketing director, sales manager, and consumer via five online adventures. The self-guided curriculum allows students to practice problem solving, decision making and critical thinking skills, all while they weigh saving and spending choices, consider risk management and insurance strategies, and make personal and business-related financial decisions.

Middle and high school students complete the JA Finance Park online self-guided curriculum and are assigned a random life scenario with a specific career, education, family characteristics, credit score and student debt.  These factors impact their decision making as students set up saving and spending plans.  Students research, shop, and pay for various life category purchases and make other financial decisions across multiple life stages.  JA Finance Park Virtual is designed to help students understand the ramifications of financial decisions related to income, expenses, savings, and credit.

The William S Knight Foundation, of Brodhead, Wisconsin, has provided a $50,000 grant to help Wisconsin schools bring the JA BizTown Adventures and JA Finance Park Virtual programs to their students.  The grant will offset student fees for the 2020-21 school year and allow up to 7,000 elementary students outside of the Metro Milwaukee area to participate at no charge.

“The JA BizTown Adventures and JA Finance Park Virtual online simulations were developed in response to many years of sold out conditions in our physical simulation labs in Milwaukee and Appleton.  Virtual options mean that schools all over the state can now participate without incurring bus rental fees. These virtual programs provide our education partners with curriculum that effectively integrates financial literacy and career readiness into online learning resources,” said Michael Frohna, President of Junior Achievement of Wisconsin.  Frohna added, “We are extremely grateful to the William S. Knight Foundation for their support to bring this engaging and interactive program to students across Wisconsin.”

The JA Biztown Adventures and JA Finance Park virtual programs are available for any public, private, parochial or home school, as well as other youth serving organizations. For more information, educators can contact Brooke Tabbert (btabbert@jawis.org) or go to https://wisconsin.ja.org to reach the Junior Achievement office near them.  Classroom students will be registered on a first come, first served basis.

Junior Achievement of Wisconsin Holds Its First-Ever JA Virtual State Business Challenge®

MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin – Junior Achievement of Wisconsin (JA) held its first-ever JA Virtual State Business Challenge on May 21, 2020 with 39 students from 16 Wisconsin high schools competing for college scholarships. The JA Business Challenge, sponsored by Acuity, provides virtual hands-on experience running a business. Statewide school closings due to COVID-19 initiated the transition of the JA Business Challenge to a virtual platform. 
 
“When living rooms and dining rooms became classrooms, Junior Achievement of Wisconsin knew we could and wanted to provide important resources and opportunities for students, including the chance to participate in the JA Business Challenge,” said Michael Frohna, President, Junior Achievement of Wisconsin. “These times are highly unusual, but young people still desire to create and prepare for their futures. Coming along side youth to help in these ways is a privilege for us.” 
 
“Acuity has been proud to host the Junior Achievement Business Challenge at our headquarters for many years,” said Melissa Winter, Vice President, Business Consulting. “Although we can’t host an in-person event this year, we hope that our virtual support helps the business leaders of the future build skills that will lead to career success.”
 
The JA Business Challenge uses JA Titan®, a virtual business strategy simulation platform. Student teams make business decisions regarding price, production, marketing, capital investment, and research and development. Students compete in virtual companies and after several timed periods, teams with the highest performance index win. Students from the winning teams receive college scholarships.
 
Winners of the JA Virtual State Business Challenge
 
Acuity Championship Industry 
First Place: David Kane, Maxwell Siepert, and Gunther Stroschin from Greenfield High School, Greenfield, Wis. in the Junior Achievement of Wisconsin – Metro Milwaukee Area. 
   
Second Place: Bennett Hoppe, John Polster, and Mariah Yaghnam from Greenfield High School, Greenfield, Wis. in the Junior Achievement of Wisconsin – Metro Milwaukee Area. 
 
Third Place: Frank Fetzer and Sebastian Nielsen from Boyceville High School, Boyceville, Wis. in the Junior Achievement of Wisconsin – Northwest Wisconsin Area. 
 
Students from the winning teams will each receive: 1st place ($1,000), 2nd place ($500), 3rd place ($100 Kohl’s gift card), respectively.
 
Executive Industry 
First Place: Andrew Bethke and Noah Stachovak from DC Everest Idea School, Weston, Wis. in the Junior Achievement of Wisconsin – Northcentral Wisconsin Area.
 
Students will each receive a $100 Kohl’s gift card.
 
Entrepreneur Industry
First Place: Elijah Koleske and Jackson Schipper from Appleton North High School, Appleton, Wis. in the Junior Achievement of Wisconsin – Winnebago Area. 
   
Students will each receive a $100 Kohl’s gift card.
 

Junior Achievement Partners with Brian Hamilton Foundation and Mark Cuban Foundation for “Why Entrepreneurship Now"

Junior Achievement of Wisconsin Alumna, Amillia Bell, Featured
 
MILWAUKEE – Junior Achievement (JA) partnered with the Brian Hamilton Foundation and Mark Cuban Foundation to host "Why Entrepreneurship Now - A Virtual Event for America's Teens." The event was hosted by Harris Faulkner, anchor of Fox News Channel's Outnumbered Overtime and co-host of Outnumbered.
 
The featured panelists were: Brian Hamilton, National Entrepreneur Educator, Co-founder of Sageworks, Philanthropist, Founder of the Brian Hamilton Foundation and Inmates to Entrepreneurs, and Mark Cuban, Co-star, ABC's "Shark Tank," owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks and Author, How to Win at the Sport of Business and Kid Startup. 
 
This unique interactive event gave teens across America, including Amillia Bell, Junior Achievement of Wisconsin alumna, the opportunity to ask questions of some of the country's most experienced entrepreneurs. 
 
Amillia Bell said, “This event was great for individuals that are interested in becoming entrepreneurs. We were able to get advice from business owners who have firsthand knowledge about what it’s like to start and expand a business.”
 
Nathan Russell, also a Junior Achievement of Wisconsin Alum and JA volunteer, was featured in the April 23rd Junior Achievement and CNBC Virtual Town Hall that addressed teen concerns about the financial impact of COVID-19. 
 
“I would have to say that this type of program where multiple questions are asked and answered should happen more often. Lots of people, many of those being teens, are the ones that have questions regarding the world and things around them,” said Nathan Russell. “Many of those teens find lots of false information online, so an event with experts that have the knowledge and skills surrounding these questions makes a difference. Overall I really enjoyed the experience of talking with national and international experts. It gave me the sense of power to know and understand the world around me in such a troubling time.”
 

Junior Achievement Holds First-Ever JA Virtual Regional Business Challenge®

MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin – May 15th, 2020, Junior Achievement (JA) held its first-ever virtual JA Business Challenge with 43 high school students from the Junior Achievement of Wisconsin - Winnebago and Coulee Areas competing for college scholarships. Statewide school closings due to COVID-19 initiated the transition of the JA Business Challenge to a virtual platform. This is the first time a Junior Achievement Area in the nation used virtual technology for a JA Business Challenge competition.  
 
“When living rooms and dining rooms became classrooms, Junior Achievement of Wisconsin knew we could and wanted to provide important resources and opportunities for students, including the chance to participate in the JA Business Challenge,” said Michael Frohna, President, Junior Achievement of Wisconsin. “These times are highly unusual, but young people still desire to create and prepare for their futures.  Coming along side youth to help in these ways is a privilege for us.” 
 
Title Sponsors for the JA Virtual Regional Business Challenge are Kwik Trip and Miller Electric Mfg. LLC. 
 
“Kwik Trip is pleased to support the JA Business Challenge. This is a great way to foster important business and life skills with our students,” said Steph Martin, Family Office Advisor.
 
“Miller Electric Mfg. LLC is proud to support our high school teams by giving them this opportunity to make realistic business decisions in a fun and competitive manner,” said Jennifer Feldhausen, Market Research Specialist. “The experience of the Junior Achievement Business Challenge combines student teams with business mentors, and helps open doors for tomorrow.”  
 
The JA Business Challenge uses JA Titan®, a virtual business strategy simulation platform. Student teams, supported by volunteer mentors, make business decisions regarding price, production, marketing, capital investment, and research and development. Students compete in virtual companies and after several timed periods, teams with the highest performance index win. Students from the winning teams receive college scholarships and the opportunity to compete in the JA Virtual State Business Challenge on May 21, 2020, sponsored by Acuity.
 
Winners of the Regional JA Business Challenge
 
Junior Achievement of Wisconsin - Coulee Area
 
1st Place: Isaac Robinson and Grace Stablier of 7 Rivers Community High School, La Crosse, Wis.
2nd Place: Jackson Fenwick and Elliot Larson of Logan High School, La Crosse, Wis.
3rd Place: Henrik Traboulsi, Logan High School, La Crosse, Wis.
 
Students from the winning teams will each receive: $600 (1st place), $400 (2nd place), and $250 (3rd place), respectively.
 
Junior Achievement of Wisconsin - Winnebago Area
 
1st Place: Elijah Koleske and Jackson Schipper, Appleton North High School, Appleton, Wis.
2nd Place: Josh Christofferson and Alex Wickershiem, Appleton East High School, Appleton Wis.
 
Students from the winning teams will each receive: $1,000 (1st place), and $500 (2nd place), respectively, from the William Siekman Junior Achievement Scholarship Fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region. 
 
Volunteer Mentors from these Companies
 
Altra Credit Union, Associated Bank, Bendel IP Legal, Courtesy Corporation, Festival Foods, Miller Electric Mfg. LLC, Miller Welds Automation, Kohl’s, PwC, Trust Point, Wells Fargo.
 
Corporate Sponsors for the JA Virtual Regional Business Challenge
 
Junior Achievement of Wisconsin - Coulee Area
Title Sponsor: Kwik Trip. Scholarship Sponsors: Gundersen Health System, Russel L. and Vera M. Smith Foundation. Platinum Sponsors: BMO Harris Bank, Co-op Credit Union; Market & Johnson, Inc. Team Sponsors: Borton Construction, DBS Group, LLC, Festival Foods, Mathy Construction, Trust Point, and West Salem Business Association.
 
Junior Achievement of Wisconsin - Winnebago Area
Title Sponsor: Miller Electric Mfg. LLC. Enterprise Sponsor: U.S. Venture. Leadership Sponsors: Appleton Area School District, BMO Harris Bank, Festival Foods, Miron Construction Company, Inc. Scholarship Sponsor: William Siekman Junior Achievement Fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region. Team Sponsors: Alliance Laundry Systems, Alta Resources, Bendel IP Legal, Galloway Company, Essity, Laminations, Investors Community Bank. 
 
Junior Achievement of Wisconsin – Racine and Kenosha Areas
Sponsors: Twin Disc, Baird, BMO Harris Bank, Educators Credit Union, US Bank, Fischer, Southern Lakes Credit Union.
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