A new school year is now underway, and Junior Achievement is hard at work placing its volunteers and curriculum in local schools throughout our communities. The goal? Help transform the preparedness of our youth and inspire them to achieve their own American Dream.
Junior Achievement lessons not only enhance the relevancy of core subjects but prepare students to be financially capable citizens—equipped with knowledge about today’s complex economy, work-ready skills and the confidence to be successful.
While students from all socioeconomic backgrounds benefit from JA, students living in generational poverty stand to gain the most. Financial illiteracy plays a key role in the cycle of unemployment and poverty, and the downward spiral begins in earnest for those who don’t graduate.
The first step in financial capability is recognizing and defining the real opportunities for your life. It requires developing a sense of purpose to overcome life’s challenges and fostering a belief in yourself.
I cannot think of a better way to develop financial capability than through exposure to mentors and hands-on skill building.
This is the critical component JA provides our educators.
JA programs employ a scientific method that works.
Longitudinal studies show that when JA students have three or more programs from middle school on, they have more knowledge about the U.S. economy and their role in it, they report higher levels of self-esteem, and they have a higher likelihood to graduate than non-JA students.
In May, we launched a five-year strategic plan that will provide for this targeted use of JA programs for middle and high school students. It encompasses a more sequential approach to programming as well as more volunteer time in the classroom.
The plan also involves bringing to Rochester some of JA USA’s most impactful programs, JA Biz Town and JA Finance Park, a hands-on learning laboratory. Students will visit the JA mini-city to take on the roles of real employees, business owners, consumers and citizens in Rochester’s regional economy. We like to call it the epicenter of preparedness.
When it comes to preparing youth, JA community volunteers will continue to be central to its success.
JA Rochester boasts a network of more than 750 volunteers from all ages and all walks of life. What drives each volunteer to give of his or her time and talent is different, but the impact remains the same.
Patricia Leva is president and CEO of Junior Achievement of Rochester, New York Area Inc.
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