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Vol. LXV, No. 48
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
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Teaching Work-Related Skills in Classroom: Junior Achievement Works With Businesses

Ellen Gilbert

It’s “a vibrant organization that is systematically changing the ways students are educated about personal finance, economic, and workforce readiness skills,” said Development Manager Roslyn Chao, describing the multiple goals of Junior Achievement of New Jersey (JANJ), a Princeton-based nonprofit.

“The Junior Achievement program really teaches the kids what it’s like to be an adult and the power behind spending less than you make,” said President Catherine Milone. “That’s how you make your budget work. A lot of us adults are still learning that the hard way.”

Partnering with companies throughout the state, Junior Achievement helps to recruit volunteers from the business world to teach young people the skills they need to succeed at work. This year’s goal, reported Ms. Chao, is to serve no less than 46,000 students statewide. “Our programs have inspired students to work diligently in school, become entrepreneurs, and seek a life as contributing members of a community,” she noted. 

In addition to free classroom programs, Junior Achievement hosts mentoring events, like the Women’s Future Leadership Forum, held regionally three times during the academic year. Pairing professional career women with 50 “promising, academically-achieving high school females,” the program is an opportunity to learn about the pursuit of higher academic degrees, potential career paths, and skill sets for “coping with life’s challenges.” Students and their mentors develop, for example, hypothetical sales pitches, and a personal financial management game walks participants through the decision-making process bill-paying adults face every month. Students and mentors sometimes continue their conversations after the program has ended. “It’s an inspirational day, providing students the mentorship needed to keep them focused on graduation and future career” observed Ms. Chao.

Recently, JANJ partnered with Verizon and Accenture to sponsor a “High School Hero Day,” a day of “financial literacy games and activities” at Thomas Jefferson School, in Morristown. Participants included 49 Morristown High School students and three American Express Corporation volunteers. They worked with 15 classes, reaching a total of 297 students. 

“The students learned about business and enjoyed having us to teach them about it,” said a student volunteer. “The volunteers did a great job,” added a teacher. “My students have a better understanding of how to open a business and how to work together.”

“Students have to own their future economic success,” observed Ms. Milone. “Budgeting and learning about budgeting at an early age is probably one of the best ways that young people can be successful in their lives.”

Upcoming JANJ events a include a Women’s Future Leadership Forum on January 27; a Latino Leadership Forum on February 28; a Financially Fit Bowl-A-Thon on April 13; a Spring Golf Outing on May 14; and an Accountants Bowl-a-Thon on May 23.

Junior Achievement (JA) is the world’s largest organization dedicated to educating students about work readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy through experiential hands-on programs. JANJ is the New Jersey Chapter of Junior Achievement.

For more information visit http://janj.org or call (609) 419-0404.

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