by Becky Doumaux, VP of Community Development at Junior Achievement of South Central PA
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” That’s a question we’ve all heard, and probably asked, more than a few times. Depending on the age of the person being asked and their life experiences, answers can vary from a dancer or soccer player to a teacher or engineer to a welder or pharmacy tech. So, what makes the difference? At Junior Achievement, we believe that a child needs to see it to be it, meaning that the more career interactions a child has as they grow up, the more career options they can consider as they plan for their futures. Through its K-12 programs, Junior Achievement strives to create opportunities for students to interact with caring adults, gain important real-world skills like personal finance and employability skills, and explore a wide variety of careers and career pathways.
Junior Achievement of South Central PA (JA) has been serving Lancaster County since 1955 and currently serves over 20,000 Lancaster County students each school year. The JA programs are facilitated by JA volunteers, community members who share their own career and life experiences as they guide students through learning activities, encouraging them to build new skills, consider new ideas, and make connections between their classroom learning and the real world.
This school year, JA launched its Inspiring Equitable Tomorrows initiative with the goal of increasing JA program opportunities for students attending schools where more than 90% of students come from low-income families. In Lancaster County, this initiative includes the schools within the Columbia Borough School District and the School District of Lancaster. While program fees are not a barrier to participation (JA programs have no cost to the school or students), JA recognizes that these schools often face unique facility, staffing, and program accessibility challenges and is committed to developing new program implementation strategies to make JA programs more feasible.
Providing more programs means that JA will need more volunteers than ever before. Given the diverse student population of each of these school districts and the importance of students being able to relate to and feel comfortable with their volunteer, JA is taking additional steps to try to recruit and place more diverse volunteers. JA is currently seeking volunteers for programs with K-12 students throughout the school year, with opportunities ranging from an hour a week for 5 weeks to a morning or a single school day. Volunteers from all walks of life are encouraged to consider how sharing their career and life experiences might help to inspire students.
As an example of how business volunteer partnerships work with Junior Achievement, 6thd, 7th, and 8th-grade students at Reynolds Middle School will be participating in JA’s YES (Your Economic Success) program in January with volunteer facilitators from Fulton Bank, Santander, and Truist. Each business provides multiple volunteers, many of diverse backgrounds, because they believe in helping to inspire today’s students to become successful adults. Schnearia Ashley, SVP Community Development Manager with Truist and JA volunteer shares the following about why she volunteers with JA, “When I think about volunteering, it’s more than just executing a program for JA. You may be that one glimpse that a child needs to see to say ‘You know what? This is possible for me.’ I remember walking into one classroom and there was only one other brown face. I still remember the way she lit up when she saw me and heard me speak to how I started out as a teller, was able to learn banking, and am now standing in front of her as the Senior Vice President of Community Development. The possibility that I saw on her face is still something that gives me goosebumps.” As a JA volunteer, you, too, can help students see the possibilities.
You can learn more about the Inspiring Equitable Tomorrows in this brochure or about Junior Achievement at www.jascpa.org. Ready to volunteer? Click here to see where volunteers are needed to support programs in this initiative. Contact Mary Reinhard email@example.com for more information or to volunteer. Together we can help empower today’s students to own their future success.