With counties on The Shore announcing plans for virtual learning in the fall, Junior Achievement of the Eastern Shore (JAES) is prepared to rise to the occasion.
“Our programs are 100% hands-on, interactive, and typically delivered in-classroom,” said JAES Program Coordinator Mary Holden. “We knew that being idle for the first half of the school year was not an option; our local students need our programs. We decided if our students would be going virtual, so were we.”
Junior Achievement has tackled this new challenge head-on. JAES has released its first ever JA Mind Challenge activity workbooks. “Our workbooks are a product of our Program Department hand-selecting content for each grade-level and our Development Department leading the creative aspects,” said Kate Bleile, JAES Vice President.
Each workbook is full of 20+ pages of full-color activities that encourage students to get excited about building wealth, getting jobs, and building business. The Mind Challenge workbooks are available for grades PreK through 12 and are able to be downloaded for free on Junior Achievement’s website. Activities are designed to be both self-guided and provide a family-learning opportunity. JAES plans to distribute these workbooks to day care centers, youth groups, interested school districts, food distribution centers, and more. Several thousand workbooks have already been requested from area schools for distribution this fall.
“It’s always fun when students learn about the costs of living, why we pay taxes, and creative ways to make money,” said JAES President, Jayme Hayes. “The best part of our jobs is when we can get students excited about the endless possibilities that are available to them, but first they have to know that these possibilities exist. We believe in a world where all students have equal access to life skills like budgeting, career exploration, home ownership, and more, and we’re on a mission to make that happen.”
JAES is working harder than ever to ensure students on the Shore will continue to have access to these vital life skills that ensure real-world success. The organization is planning for distribution of their revamped virtual program, Finance Park Virtual, where students are given real scenarios, budgets, and jobs, and have to navigate through a simulated real-world experience.
JAES is also planning for the 3rd Annual JA Inspire experience. Last year, nearly 3,000 eighth grade students on the Shore got to experience the world of work in a hands-on, experiential learning environment. Students were able to actually experience what jobs in hundreds of different industries actually look like.
JAES Development Director Lisa Thornton explained, “How can we ask our students to choose a career if they have no clue what that career looks like? JA Inspire is more than a career fair. It provides the hands-on exploration students need to make informed decisions on their futures.”
This year, JA is planning to take this experience completely virtual. “We are truly excited about this year’s JA Inspire Virtual event,” Lisa said. “We are using a virtual conferencing platform that actually looks like a convention center when students enter the simulation. Local businesses will have the ability to provide students with tons of information regarding their business and their industry, all while being safe at home.”
JAES is confident that this year’s virtual model will allow for more students than ever to gain access to the JA Inspire programming due to no attendance limits. JAES also believes that more local businesses will be able to get in on the action this year.
“Those smaller businesses that may not have the personnel to send to a two-day event, or the ability to close down for two-days, now have the opportunity to be a part of this event,” Lisa said. “Our staff is preparing and training to assist businesses in the preparation of their virtual booths. We are helping our local businesses as much as possible to ensure that the transition to this platform is as seamless as possible.”
Junior Achievement is busier than ever but committed to pivoting as much as possible to ensure students on the Shore continue to succeed. Last school year, JAES served 10,000 students here on the Shore. That means 10,000 students in the local community were given access to JAES’s life-changing programs for free. Those 10,000 students were given mentorship, guidance, and hope that success is possible.
“We are currently serving 22% of the student population here on the Shore,” Jayme said. “While we are super excited about our progress, 78% of students on the Shore are still without JAES’s programming. We believe in a world where every child’s story ends with success, and we won’t stop until that happens.”
To learn more about Junior Achievement’s impact on your community and how to get involved, visit easternshoreja.org today.
Junior Achievement of the Eastern Shore is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating youth, grades K-12, both public and private, on financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship. Our hands-on, age-appropriate programs inspire youth to live within their means, prepare for the world of work and understand the free enterprise system. Our programs are brought to life by local business members from the community. We are an enhancement to what kids learn in school and a direct link to real-life applications, making school relevant and increasing students’ engagement in the classroom.