Junior Achievement Inspires an Entire Family to Plan for their Future
First she was a student. Then she was a teacher. And then, she became a JA volunteer. Estefania Alayeto vividly remembers participating in Junior Achievement (JA) during her senior year of high school in Milwaukee. She was learning about family budgeting, saving money, managing credit, and career planning. During this time, her family was going through a tough stretch financially. Estefania recalls her parents arguing a lot about money, and wishing she could do something to help.
Then it hit her. Not only could all the things she'd been learning from JA help her in the future, it could actually help her parents too. In fact, she was pretty sure it could change their lives. Soon, she was taking home JA materials and teaching her parents what she'd been learning. Little by little, they created a budget together, started watching their expenses, and began monitoring their credit.
The success didn't stop there. Inspired by their daughter, Estefania's mom went back to school and got her bachelor's degree, and her father, an immigrant, signed up to earn his GED. Others in the family were positively affected. It's now common for Estefania's 12 brothers and sisters to come to her for help and financial advice.
As for Estefania, she went to college, received a position in banking and then became a JA volunteer. "I'm just one woman with one story whose life was changed by JA," Estefania says. "I'm proud to be a JA alum and volunteer. I want my story to inspire all students to avoid getting into credit card debt and encourage them to plan for their futures."
MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS CREATE A BUSINESS AND NEW OPPORTUNITIES FROM THEIR JA PROGRAM
Middle school students at KTEC (Kenosha School of Technology Enhanced Curriculum) have completed the JA Company Program® for the past three years as a summer enrichment program. The program was facilitated by Junior Achievement volunteer and Leeward Business Advisor's CEO, Michael Polzin.
This year, students in the program were inspired by coffee for their business idea, coffee grounds actually. They discovered coffee grounds are a natural mosquito repellent so they added it to their candle concept.
That concept then transitioned into an investor night at Leeward Business Advisors Conference Center. Students invited members of the community to listen to their company plan and purchase $10 shares of stock with a promised return of 10%. They raised over $700 in capital that evening.
Next steps for the entrepreneurs were to order supplies, make the product, and sell it. They arranged two sales dates at the local Kenosha Harbor Market where they were able to sell enough product to repay their investors with the return and make a profit. They are donating their profits of just over $500 to The Shalom Center, a local homeless shelter.
But here is where the coffee really kicks in! The JA Company Program students have been invited to attend the Kenosha Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting, an event not usually open to students. This Junior Achievement (JA) program has really brewed new opportunities for these young people in Kenosha. Last year's students were featured on CBS 58 out of Milwaukee and students have been asked to be keynote speakers at the Full STEM Ahead Fair put on by College for Kids and Teens at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee.
After the success of the summer JA Company Program, KTEC brought JA programs into the traditional classrooms. This past school year, KTEC offered Junior Achievement programs to nearly 60% of their enrollment which connected 27 volunteers from community businesses with Kenosha area students.
Through this partnership to educate and support KTEC students, Junior Achievement was presented with the KTEC 2018 Distinguished Partner Award at the annual Fit for Growth Gala in April. The award recognizes community partners who have invested their time, resources, and expertise to provide KTEC students with hands-on, real-world experiences.
"The Junior Achievement lessons have provided our students with valuable knowledge about financial literacy and entrepreneurship. It gives our students a real-world connection that links the classroom to their lives," said Dr. Angela Andersson, KTEC Principal.
A THANK YOU CARD FROM A STUDENT IMPACTS A JA VOLUNTEER
RAISE YOUR HAND IF YOU EVER RECEIVED A THANK YOU CARD LIKE THIS
Raise your hand if you know someone in the military… Raise your hand if you know someone who is a firefighter.
That's how Junior Achievement (JA) volunteer, DJ Braemer, begins his first JA class with his students. This is how he tells them about where he works – at Oshkosh Corporation, a manufacturer of specialty vehicles and truck bodies for industries, such as defense, concrete, and fire and emergency. "Almost everyone knows someone," DJ says. "It's a way to connect my company to something they can relate to."
This year, DJ volunteered in Ms. Hermsen's 5th grade class at Washington Elementary, a school with nearly 70% of children on the free and reduced lunch program. As a JA volunteer, DJ has the opportunity to tell his students about jobs, opportunities, and education pathways beyond what they may learn about in every-day life, such as a firefighter or soldier, including his position in Talent Acquisition for Oshkosh Corporation. Statistics have shown that 1 in 5 Junior Achievement students choose a career path of their JA volunteer. Not every volunteer may know what class, what students, or what time they made that impact on a student, but DJ does.
On the last session of his JA class, Ms. Hermsen handed DJ a big stack of thank you cards from the students in the class. He took them back to his office, but it took a day or two before he had time to sit down and read them all. DJ said, "I had a busy week at work and it was one of those days, selfishly, that I needed a boost." He sat down to read the cards and one really stuck out to him. It read: "Thank you DJ. I now know what I want to be when I grow up. I want to be just like you." DJ stared at it for a good minute or two and thought, "Wow! JA has given me this amazing opportunity to reach and influence a kid who thought so positively about his experience, that he wrote me this inspiring card." DJ goes on to explain, "It's just so neat and heartfelt. Something I will never forget."
DJ says he doesn't know any other opportunity outside of Junior Achievement where in as little as five hours of your time, you can make that strong of an impact on our youth. "I don't think there's anything more fulfilling than being a Junior Achievement volunteer," he adds.
DJ and some colleagues at Oshkosh Corporation encourage other team members to volunteer for Junior Achievement at the JA info sessions. He says their team goal is to have the most JA volunteers from an organization in the Fox Valley.
Would you like to host a Junior Achievement information session at your organization or volunteer with JA? Contact your local JA office.
"Junior Achievement has given me a sense of what adults go through with budget issues."
"Junior Achievement reinforced concepts for me to remember later in life."
"I thought the experience was amazing. The presentation was unlike anything I've seen."
"I liked how the Junior Achievement volunteer explained his job to us."