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2012 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Youth Development - Business

Mission:

Junior Achievement will ensure that every child in America has a fundamental understanding of the free enterprise system. Our mission is to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy. Our core beliefs are integrity, respect, and excellence.

Results: Junior Achievement hosts annually, The JA Bowl-A-Thon, Junior Achievement's Stock Investing Competition, The Annual JA Golf Tournament, The Horace A. Moses Legacy Breakfast, and JA5k. These fundraising efforts allow us to continue to provide free programs to local students, numbering over 10,000 annually.

Target demographics: Students grades K - 12

Direct beneficiaries per year: 10,000+

Geographic areas served: Western Massachusetts, Hampden County, Berkshire Country, Franklin County, Hampshire County, Vermont

Programs: Through age-appropriate curricula, Junior Achievement programs begin at the elementary school level, teaching children how they can impact the world around them as individuals, workers and consumers. Junior Achievement programs continue through the middle and high school grades, preparing students for future economic and workforce issues they'll face.

Community Stories

16 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Dave51

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had the opportunity to teach financial literacy twice this past school year and cannot wait to do it again. The JA of Western MA team is amazing. The children are so involved in the lessons. If you have never done it get involved. You will not regret it.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My volunteering for JA of Western MA has proven to be a positve learning experience due in fact to the president of this very worthwhile and important organization, founded in Springfield, MA. She has taught me, and so many others that work with her, that dedication to a cause and a determind sense of will are so impotant in one's life. She conveys this in every undertaking dedicated to the success of JA and her work ethic is undaunting in these efforts. I have been involved in many of JA's fundraising events, i.e. The 5K road race, The Stock Market Challenge, The annual golf tounament and it has alway been Jennifer's tireless efforts that proved beneficial, resulting in a successful event. Each year she has worked to better the final result of each event, listening and implementing suggestions on how to attract volunteers and participants. I have come to realize that JA of Western Ma should and must be supported by small businesses, and area schools. It definitly is an organization that continues to benefit the youth of Western MA in a positve way. It builds self esteem and it has a direct effect in their learning development.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Not many people get to experience JA from a student's point of view as well as a teacher's, but I have! My mother started teaching JA classes when I was in elementary school and I was lucky enough to be in her class! I LOVED the activities and lessons that the volunteers brought to us! There is a perfect balance between fun and learning! If it wasn't for JA, I probably wouldn't have known how to do basic "grown up" things such as writing a check or keeping a budget. They also teach more complex topics, yet they are broken down for children of different ages to understand. There are also some extremely important warnings about credit cards that many older kids need to hear! Each volunteer teacher brings different skills and stories to the table so even if you attend a JA program every year, each class will have different lessons matched to your grade as well as a different role model to learn from. Teaching is also just as rewarding! I jumped at the chance to teach so that other kids could experience JA like I did.

Lina H.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Junior Achievement's program teaching children about financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship is second to none! I volunteer for this group whenever possible; it is truly a rewarding experience. Junior Achievement's caring leaders are, in great part, responsible for the program's positive impact on our community.

Victoria10

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My first experience with Junior Achievement began when I was only 8 years old. I remember the class was buzzing with excitement over the “special guest” that was coming in to talk with us. When the J.A. volunteer began to teach us about the benefits of assembly line production, however, the atmosphere of the classroom seemed to shift from giddy exuberance to a more focused learning environment; my classmates and I were all fascinated by each activity and eagerly participated. Seven years later I find myself on the other side of the desk, now teaching my own group of second graders as a J.A. Volunteer. The program I taught the children, “Our Community”, emphasized the opportunities and responsibilities in a community -and even had an assembly line activity!! Like my old classmates and I, they all participated enthusiastically, some of them raising their hands before I even finished asking the question. The true impact I had had on the students, though, did not become clearly apparent to me until the end of the day when students who had been strangers to me just a few hours before were rushing up to give me hugs and thank me for bringing J.A. to their classroom. Through that simple gesture, the students taught me something: no matter what your age or which side of the desk you’re on, Junior Achievement’s programs have a lot to offer and are a ton of fun too!

Debra22

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I become involved with Junior Achievement as a volunteer and will continue to do so every chance I can. The organization provides our children to learn about employment options, finances, and helping others in the community. It provides hands-on activites and keeps them engaged while learning. JA gives our children an insight into the working world of today. Given these tough economic times, this organization is needed now more than ever.

Client Served

Rating: 4

JA is continually evaluating their product to make sure it has the most impact on students. They are attuned to the 21st century skills our students need to help them be successful and fully participating citizens.

Darlene Libi

Board Member

Rating: 4

My involvement with Junior Achievement has come full circle -- formerly as a JA Student to present day as a board member. I feel the biggest benefit to our students is the various types of practical knowledge this program teaches. These are life skills, primarily centered around being financially savvy, which helps create a responsible economic foundation for these young adults. It's a paradox that out local JA Chapter struggles financially...the more we do, the more it costs, and we always want to do more!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I became involved with JA in high school and participated in the JA Company Program for three years, being elected President of my JA Company, Trayco, my senior year. I ran into one of my Trayco members last weekend and he started talking about how great JA was. In college I had the oportunity to volunteer for JA and today I teach at least 5 JA programs a year. For me it's the connection with our youth. Sharing my knowledge and using JA's great materials to help our young people become financially literate, explore career opportunities and develop their leadership skills makes me feel like I'm making a difference. Each year in Western Massachusetts over 400 people like me, step up and volunteer to teach JA in local classrooms. Last year JA volunteers reached over 10,000 students in Western MA. JA is a terrific organization that has been changing peoples lives for over 93 years!

Donor

Rating: 5

I'm something of a latecomer to the value of Junior Achievement. My original impression was simply economic education, stock market, mock companies and the like. But I have come to realize its amazing ability to take youth, from all kinds of cirucmstances, and open up a whole new world to them. It not only exposes them to financial literacy but future careers and helps them to discover and tap into their potential. I'm proud to be, in my small way, a supporter of Junior Achievement.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Prior to serving on the JA Board of Directors, I volunteered as a JA teacher and began teaching the elementary school programs to my daughter's class as she moved from 3rd through 6th grade. When I learned about the Economics for Success program, she moved on and I was hooked. I continued to teach the program to 6th graders and then to 9th graders. I can't think of a better way to provide such critical information to students that will prepare them for the "real world" after High School. I feel that I am making a difference by helping them understand more about what is available to them and how best to utilize and develop their talents and skills. The finanicial awareness provided opens up the students' minds to what they should and should not do with their hard-earned dollars. JA's programs are excellent and created with both the volunteer and student in mind. My daughter recently taught a 4th grade class and loved it!

Board Member

Rating: 5

I became involved with Junior Achievement in 1980 and have served in a number of capacities including Board Member, Board Chair, acting President, and volunteer. I was also fortunate to have been part of a Junior Achievement company a student growing up in northern New Jersey. JA's current tagline "empowering young people to own their economic success" is a fitting statement for the amazing work this organization does to bring superior economic education to youngsters from K to 12....delivered by hundreds of business volunteers across western Massachusetts. I have personally watched as Junior Achievement's classroom efforts turn students from a "lackluster " approach to education into an excited, participating and achieving youngster. Finally, JA is the perfect vehicle to help raise the financial literacy level of our youngsteers. I am honored to have been a part of this exciting program for thirty plus years.

Jon T.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I began volunteering with JA in 2007 at a Springfield High School. I was shocked at how many lacked such basic understanding that credit cards charge interest (or even had to be paid back!) I also volunteered at a fundraising event. Fast-forward to 2012, I've taught 14 different classes in 5 different high schools and 2 elementary schools, and wish I had time to do more. I've been told that as a school volunteer, if you reach one child, you've accomplished the mission. Judging by reactions in classroom after classroom, Junior Achievement reaches many more children. My daughter in High School taught a JA program for second graders (by herself no less!) and is eager to do more. Even at 15, she recognizes the invaluable role that Junior Achievement can play in these kids lives, and is currently planning a school-wide volunteering program at her High School to get other students to go out and become "High School Heroes" who teach these skills to elementary school kids.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been involved in JA for many years. It has been a very valuable experience in all aspects of life. I was fortunate to have had the experience of a JA class in 11th grade. It taught us reality! How the economy affects everyone. I have volunteered in many classrooms and have been a board member for many years. As we all understand, our children are our future. It is our responsibility to give them every opportunity that affords us. JA is one of the avenues to help them in achieving their success.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Today's youth have very few opportunities to gain exposure to career fields. Yet when they get to be seniors in High School they are constantly asked by parents and administrators what do they want to be when they grow up. What are they going to major in college. My experience with thousands of high schoolers is the answer "I don't know". JA is one of the few organizations that actually help students get that exposure with programs such as Job Shadow, Entrepreneurship and JA Titan Programs. Also from grades 1 to 12 JA has the best educational programs of any non profit. I am not aware of any teacher, who once exposed to the JA programs, doesn't want to continue it. I have been watching the positive results for over 30 years.

Review from Guidestar

Thom F.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I was a fairly good student growing up. My grandparents, who believed in education and instilled in me the same sensibility, raised me. However, early in life, a series of unfortunate events derailed my momentum. I soon lost the desire for learning and subsequently repeated the 9th grade - twice. As I entered my third go-around, I concluded that an education was not as important as my grandparents portrayed it and dropped out of school. Simply put, it was the worst decision of my life.

Now, I did not come to that conclusion immediately. After many years, I came to understand that my grandparents were correct and that completing high school and attending college are paramount to happiness and success. Thankfully, I had many great mentors along the way - people who saw something in me and encouraged me to see it as well. One of those individuals was Jacques DeVillier, former President and CEO, Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts.

I met Jacques when I began volunteering for Junior Achievement. We became friendly and had great conversations about financial literacy, economic empowerment, and life. When he learned I was a dropout, he mounted a campaign for me to earn my GED and continue to college. I fought him on the idea, mostly because of the same youthful ignorance that led me to leave school in the first place. He was tenacious, and I eventually relented. Our friendship taught me a very valuable lesson - there are caring people who want to see you succeed. This success is different for different people. Some are successful in the attainment of wealth, while others inspire through knowledge or passion. Each of us has something to contribute, and we don’t always recognize it until we are challenged.

I continued to volunteer for Junior Achievement throughout college. Several years ago, I was invited a student ceremony. That night, several High School Heroes, which are student volunteers serving as peer-to-peer teachers, spoke. All of these kids said that, if it wasn’t for the education they received from JA programs, they would have dropped out of high school. Because of my own challenges, I was moved by their stories and impressed with the impact of JA’s programs. In our community, graduation rates are alarming low - approximately 50 percent in both Springfield and Holyoke. As one on my personal philosophies is, “You can’t complain about something unless you’re working to change it,” I requested to join the board of directors.

Fast forward to 2012. I’m a college graduate and serve Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts (the birthplace of Junior Achievement) as Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors. I’m proud to work as a part of a team delivering this powerful curriculum to over 11,500 kids each year. We have hundreds of volunteers and contributors who support our efforts in helping children own their economic success.

As you’ve seen from my story, a relationship with Junior Achievement is transformative, and not just for students who come to understand the importance of an education and aspire to be a productive member of our economy. Volunteers, board members, and many others have had their lives changed through helping us achieve our mission.

Review from Guidestar