Friday, March 28, 2014

Junior Achievement Overview

Communities, both rural and urban, should explore this student-engaged resource to accomplish several goals, e.g.,

  •          Teaching “work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy” 
  •          Involving local business men and women as mentors  
  •          Delivering easy-to-use, interactive , effective learning activities and curriculum  
  •          Offering students a different perspective and other options
Delivering the Junior Achievement lessons gives the business person a platform, e.g., how you lose a job, how you brand yourself, his or her experiences… 

The key piece is the volunteer, i.e., having a real person with the students.

Programs provided: (Several of these will receive separate blog posts for more detail.)
  •          Kindergarten – twelfth grade curricula
  •          JA Job Shadow
  •          JA Investor Challenge
  •          JA BizTown Learning Center, Tulsa (one of 30 in the U. S.)
  •          Finance Park (an "immersive simulation," piloting now, for middle and high schools)
Opportunities for rural areas are endless to pay for curricula, provide volunteers and sponsor a BizTown trip.
  •          A local business or businesses
  •          A foundation-businesses partnership
  •          A school-foundation partnership
Opportunities for urban areas are also endless, but businesses, alone or in partnership, can sponsor and provide curricula for one or more schools. Often in Oklahoma City, a business or partnership of businesses adopts one school and focuses effort there over time.

Examples include Ft. Gibson’s Armstrong Bank, which provides the volunteers and pays for the curricula for grades K-4 and sends the fifth graders to BizTown. In Okmulgee, the community is more involved so a school and foundation partner, too, for K-4 lessons in five elementary sites as well as some high school classes. Stillwater Public Schools sends all of its fifth graders to BizTown annually. Sarkey’s and the Pottawatomie Nation have donated some funding to target rural areas.

Jo Wise with poster from a recent lesson
Curriculum excerpt: To middle school students, Jo Wise recently taught a lesson featuring a donut company. For example, to compare assembly line manufacturing with one-person craftsmanship, students “made” and decorated donuts both ways. What are the pros and cons of each method? 

This series also focuses upon positive and negative qualities of an employee. In the photo, Jo is holding the “How to Keep (or Lose) a Job” poster the students completed. Jo, the director of the Oklahoma City JA office, talked about the curriculum as we looked through the instructor's book and learning activities. All learning strategies are reviewed and updated every three years.

In addition, Jo mentioned the branding interview, which encourages students to begin building their personal brands now. Since students have identified two or three possible careers by this point, she asks them what are they doing now? What can they do through their school careers to build their brands and accomplish goals? Suggestions include joining an organization or group such as scouting or a choir or volunteering for fundraising. A tool for this discussion is a large journey map from childhood to adulthood. 

Borrowing from the programs’ page of the website are these concepts and skills from the six-session JA It's My Future program Jo is teaching:

Concepts: Brand, Career clusters, Career mapping, Career planning, Employee, High-growth jobs, Interests, Job application, Job forecast, Job hunting, Job interview, Logo, Long-term consequences, Personal brand, Recommendation, Resumes, Short-, middle-, and long-term goals, Skills, Soft skills, Symbolism, Tagline, Technical skills, Working environment
 Skills: Analyzing data, Analyzing information, Categorizing data, Creativity, Following written instructions, Goal-setting, Interviewing, Mapping, Model building, Oral and visual presentation, Oral and written communication, Organizing information, Reading for Understanding, Self-Assessment, Working in pairs and groups    
Course materials similar to what Jo Wise taught and shared.
 Beginning is easy. Within a community, schools and businesses need to talk. Partners can ask schools what in-school or after-school programs they need, and businesses can decide what they are willing to provide. Often schools and businesses without a known partner contact Junior Achievement. If a school calls, the first question is, " Do you have a business to sponsor a few classes, e.g., a bank to sponsor third grade?" Contact JA.

To learn more about the Junior Achievement program descriptions: .
Pricing: Businesses review the fee structure for classes and chooses. Junior Achievement provides materials at cost (no profit). Businesses involved are generous supporters, but JA channels as much funding as possible toward growing programs.

JA Oklahoma’s goal is to reach 52,000 students mentored this year and eventually cover the state. Currently, the organization has the Tulsa and Oklahoma City offices with regions, e.g., Muskogee, Bartlesville and the Cherokee Nation, and works with 67 school districts in 14 counties.

Junior Achievement Success video featuring BizTown Tulsa and Oklahomans

Notes:As of March 19th, 62 Oklahoma City area schools are involved in JA programming. (We did not request the Tulsa area number.)

As of March 5th, 113 days at BizTown had been scheduled by state schools--private, public, parochial, and home.  Depending upon the number of attendees, the facility can accommodate more than one school at a time. Read more about Junior Achievement programs in following posts.

(Belynda Clanton, personal communication, March 12, 2014)
(Jo Wise, personal communication, March 19, 2014)

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