Preparing for life after high school isn’t always easy. Finding a career can feel like a heavy weight on youths’ shoulders and support may seem scarce. For Central New York students, however, the journey doesn’t have to be a lonesome one. Junior Achievement (JA), which has been supporting students for over 50 years, has dedicated itself to serving as a resource for Kindergarten- to 12th-graders to achieve their academic pursuits.
JA prioritizes teaching job skills and financial literacy, two aspects that are essential for students’ post-high school graduation. It designs its after-school curriculum to spark the entrepreneurial spirit, and leave students confident and prepared wherever they may go. JA works collaboratively with area school districts, community organizations and other nonprofits to determine the needs and deliver appropriate, relevant programming.
“To inspire is no easy feat, but it’s so important,” said Marie Kamp, Vice President of Learning Experiences at JA. “Our students need work and career guidance now that ignites passion and helps them to shape and form their future selves before they begin selecting their coursework for high school.”
During the 2020-2021 school year, JA supported over 10,000 students, despite the hardships that the pandemic held. During an average year, the organization sees up to 15,000 students engage with its programming.
In May of 2021, the organization launched the JA Inspire program, a new virtual learning lab that helps students develop job skills and connects them with prospective employers. The program was a product of the organization’s desire to expose students to real-life workforce opportunities, allowing them to gain connections and knowledge in a safe and accessible environment.
Over the course of the work readiness program, JA reported that 85% of participants learned about a new career, 83% felt they had more tools to make an informed decision about their education, 78% learned about a new business, and 58% discussed their career interests with someone at home or school after experiencing.
In the spring of 2022, JA received a $20,000 grant from the Central New York Community Foundation to expand JA Inspire, reaching an additional 3,500 middle and high school students in seven districts across Central New York. This funding will help the organization further its influence by continuing to transform communities through work and career readiness, financial literacy and entrepreneurship programs. Their work prepares and empowers students for lifelong success, and the Foundation is proud to assist them in this endeavor.