Mar 09, 2020

Investing in youth for long-term returns

Junior Achievement has made it a mission to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy. Through the delivery of innovative and engaging programs, they equip youth with the knowledge necessary to take the next steps in life after graduation.

Stop if you’ve heard this solid financial advice before: invest today to reap the rewards tomorrow. Keep reading it you believe this lesson applies ten-fold as we grow the business owners of the future. That’s the mission of Junior Achievement (JA), one that Northern Alberta & NWT President and CEO Jennifer Martin is proud to champion in the communities which her organization serves.  

A life-long impact

“We make a difference by setting people up for financial success,” Jennifer explains. “JA alumni finish high school more often and go to post-secondary more often. And if they become entrepreneurs, their companies raise more revenue and hire more staff than non-JA alumni.”

Those outcomes start with how JA helps students focus on a foundation that promotes success. “We have three core pillars,” Jennifer explains. “Train and inspire youth to be ready for work, have money sense, and know the potential of entrepreneurship.” 

“Our global economy is changing so fast,” says Jennifer, who believes in the importance of ensuring up-and-comers are on top of leading business practices.
“Work readiness, financial literacy and entrepreneurship; the main principles we teach don’t change, but the how changes vastly. 
Learning the fundamentals of financial literacy are important for all students, regardless of background or financial status. “Supporting JA at its core means supporting inclusivity. Their strength is breaking through barriers and empowering youth so they can look forward to a brighter future,” says Lacey Jansen, Program Manager, Community Engagement for CWB.

“We have JA alumni at every age. They might be in their early 20s or late 60s, but they often tell us that JA changed the course of their life because it opened up a world of possibilities and dreams they didn’t know existed,” says Jennifer. She often sees many come full circle with the organization. “Lots of former students become volunteers.”

Indeed, JA’s impact can span decades and can show up in unexpected ways.  Jennifer recalls one special supporter who specifically requested that their donation be used to sponsor a program at an inner-city school as a means to inspire confidence and expose kids to entrepreneurial skill-building when the opportunity may not have otherwise existed. 

Community benefits start small, grow tall 

JA’s reach starts with grass-roots individuals who participate in its programs or donate their services, but according to Jennifer, the work makes an impact across the country.  “Our alumni are community-minded people, so their connection to JA and the others who volunteer instills a sense of giving back that everyone carries forward."

 

"We all benefit from a strong economy and vibrant, healthy communities - JA is a really unique place to nurture that.” 
As a national sponsor of JA, CWB’s long-standing relationship with the organization is tightly aligned to the Bank’s obsession with business owners and commitment to advance economic prosperity. “Entrepreneurialism and financial literacy is at the heart of what JA does,” explains Lacey. “We believe in supporting the communities in which we live and work, and teaming with JA to set a financial foundation for the leaders of tomorrow is a long-term effort.”   

“The work that they’re doing with schools and youth is so important,” adds Lacey. “In school curriculums, it isn’t often that you find the opportunities and information that JA provides, so students aren’t prepared for financial independence. JA and CWB work together to get involved when students are young to help set them up for success.”

 

Partnerships make it possible

CWB is just one part of a strong network on which JA relies to offer its youth programming. Generous and knowledgeable volunteers are crucial for JA to keep with the pace of business: they help ensure students get the best, most up-to-date experience and information before they begin their path to higher learning, but there are still considerable expenses. 


That’s where CWB steps in. 


“We’re as lean as we can be, but there is a cost to delivery. Corporate sponsorship is life blood for us,” says Jennifer. “We couldn’t do this without partners, and especially partners like CWB who get it. They understand the value we bring to youth.”

Get involved with Junior Achievement 

If you know of someone who would be a great fit with Junior Achievement – it could be you! – the number of student programs, volunteer opportunities and local events will open your eyes to the possibilities. Visit the JA Canada website for more information about your local chapter.