Ten Junior Achievement Operations Win International Awards for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

MetLife Foundation and Junior Achievement Celebrate Decade of Innovation through 10th Annual Entrepreneurial Award

Aug 09, 2010, 08:00 ET from Junior Achievement

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Aug. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- At Junior Achievement USA's (JA's) recent National Leadership Conference, 10 JA operations were each presented with a 2010 MetLife Foundation Entrepreneurial Award and a $25,000 grant for demonstrating outstanding innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. Junior Achievement and MetLife Foundation have teamed up for the past 10 years to honor the exemplary practice of these two key JA concepts at the local office level and to provide funds to expand those efforts.

"MetLife Foundation and JA share a commitment to preparing young people to succeed in the global economy," said Dennis White, president and CEO of MetLife Foundation.  "We are pleased to support JA's exemplary work in putting young people on the path to success."

Eight JA offices worldwide -- five U.S. and three international offices -- each received a $25,000 grant from MetLife Foundation for demonstrating the entrepreneurial spirit and delivering innovation in current JA programs.

The winning programs are:

Junior Achievement of Arizona, "You're Hired"

This initiative coupled Junior Achievement's work-readiness curricula with real-life opportunities for students to practice the skills they had learned. Students had the opportunity to hone their job-interview skills and to develop their writing, language, math, and critical thinking skills in a relevant context. In addition, students learned the relevance of their class work to real life and participated in meaningful work experiences.

Junior Achievement of Eastern Iowa, "STEM Career Fair"

This event introduces local students to leading local employers, illustrating the career opportunities available in their home communities while inspiring them to acquire the skills they need to be successful in these industries. These students, in preparation for writing their high school career plans, will have an opportunity to speak to real businesses about the skills and attributes required to be a successful employee in today's workforce.

Junior Achievement of Northern California, "Regional Evaluations"

Some funders were hesitant to support JA of Northern California without quantitative evaluation data on student impact of JA programs in their local market. Leveraging a board relationship to implement the evaluation allowed JA of Northern California to demonstrate the efficacy of JA programs.  As a result, the office generated seven percent of its operating budget in new donations from corporations and foundations.

Junior Achievement of the Heartland, "Trade Careers Expo"

JA of the Heartland worked with local businesses to provide students with vocational training, with the notion that not all high-school graduates go on to attend a college or university. The program aimed to strengthen Heartland-area businesses by bolstering the work-readiness skills of its future talent pool.

Junior Achievement of Wisconsin, "JAzz Night"

Area high school students marketed their bands' CDs using concepts learned from JA Be Entrepreneurial™, a Junior Achievement program in which students start and run a real enterprise with the mentorship of a volunteer from the local business community. The program provided band students with enhanced business and work-readiness skills.

Junior Achievement Chile, "Innovative Solutions Challenge"

JA Chile will leverage the intellectual capital of its students to devise solutions to the devastation caused by the February 2010 earthquake in a one-day intensive workshop. Teams of students will collaborate to solve different challenges presented by the quake damage.

Junior Achievement Romania, "Online Innovation Tournament"

Building on its successful Innovation Camp, in which teams of students collaborate for more than 24 hours to devise solutions to business challenges, JA Romania adapted the Camp to an online environment by leveraging web conferencing technology.

Prestasi Junior Indonesia (PJI), "SLB Program for the Hearing Disabled"

Working to address the stigma applied in Indonesian culture to the hearing-impaired, PJI targeted this segment with specially adapted Junior Achievement programs so they could have expanded access to career opportunities and entrepreneurship education.

"The innovation and creativity that these JA operations have demonstrated show that core JA concepts really do translate  to the business world," said Sean C. Rush, president and chief executive officer of JA Worldwide. "The winners of this year's awards have proven that JA does indeed practice what it preaches in terms of driving innovation in program delivery and business processes."

In addition, two special 10th Anniversary MetLife Foundation Awards, with a $25,000 grant each, were presented to two previous recipients whose award-winning initiatives have grown and had the greatest impact in their communities and on their organizations. The two Anniversary Awards were presented to:

Junior Achievement of Georgia, "Hispanic Initiative"

JA Georgia worked with Hispanic business leaders to deliver JA programs and mentor Hispanic youth with a goal of countering significant high school drop-out rates.

Junior Achievement of South Dakota, "Distance Learning"

Seeking to reduce the amount of staff time required to keep 21 local boards of directors engaged and energized, JA South Dakota worked with the state to leverage its distance learning network to conduct board meetings and volunteer trainings.

The MetLife Foundation Entrepreneurial Award is a significant way to recognize—and inspire—innovation across JA through funding those programs exemplifying entrepreneurship. MetLife has been a JA partner since 1972 and also supports JA at the local level through volunteer engagement and board leadership. Building on its 91-year legacy, Junior Achievement continues to deliver innovation and empower young people to own their future economic success.

About MetLife Foundation

MetLife Foundation was established in 1976 by MetLife to carry on its longstanding tradition of corporate contributions and community involvement. Grants support health, education, civic and cultural programs. The Foundation has supported JA programs since 1979. In addition to sponsoring the Entrepreneurial Award since 2001, the Foundation has provided major funding for development and implementation of JA Exploring Economics, a program that teaches high school students fundamental economic concepts. For more information about the Foundation, visit www.metlife.org.

About Junior Achievement® (JA)

Junior Achievement is the world's largest organization dedicated to inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy. Through a dedicated volunteer network, Junior Achievement provides in-school and after-school programs for students which focus on three key content areas: work readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy. Today, 126 individual area operations reach more than four million students in the United States, with an additional 5.7 million students served by operations in 122 other countries worldwide.


Stephanie Bell

JA Worldwide®

(719) 540-6171


Twitter:  @jaworldwide

SOURCE Junior Achievement