Junior Achievement of the Michigan Great Lakes (JAMGL) recently achieved another fundraising milestone in its quest to reach its $12.95 million goal to complete the Building Futures…Inspiring Dreams blended campaign which includes the establishment of the JA Free Enterprise Center in Grand Rapids. As of February 22, JAMGL has partnered with local businesses, corporations and individuals to raise just over $10 million. “We are in the home stretch,” said JAMGL President and CEO, William Coderre. “We have $2.6 million more to raise to make this dream a reality for students on the west side of the state. We truly hope the entire community will join us in this effort!”
The campaign got off to a great start thanks to a lead gift from Tom and Mickie Fox. “Having Tom Fox as an early donor who recognized the significance this project will have on students, the organization and the community was critical in pointing us in the right direction,” said Coderre. Since then, JAMGL has received significant gifts from major donors; Susan Hascall; Haworth; Mark & Cathy Bissell and the Bissell Corporation; the Jandernoa Foundation; Kraig & Mary Klynstra; John & Nancy Kennedy and Midge VerPlank. “We are honored to work with these generous donors,” said Jay Ediger, JAMGL SVP of
Development, “because they share our commitment to empowering young people to fully realize their potential and accomplish great things for themselves and the communities in which they live.”
“The experiences our students will receive at the JA Free Enterprise Center are more than just programs,” said JAMGL Board Chair Brad Kessel. “It’s a place where all young people get a first-hand look at success. They experience things they might not have encountered in their day-to-day lives, increasing their sense of self-confidence and potential.” This has never been more important than after the significant educational impact students have experienced since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. “It is more critical than ever that we help young people get caught up by providing life-like experiences and hands-on learning that they haven’t been able to have,” said Coderre.
Fox Family JA BizTown®, one of three experiential learning labs, is a fully interactive town that simulates the day-to-day functions of thriving communities. The program helps 5th and 6th graders connect what they learn in school with the real world. While a citizen at JA BizTown®, students have the opportunity to run a bank, manage a restaurant, use debit cards, and even vote.
The Karl and Susan Hascall JA Finance Park® delivers financial independence skills to 8th-12th grade students. Students spend twelve classroom sessions preparing for the experience. Their day at JA Finance Park® involves a randomly-assigned career and family scenario. Participants create a monthly budget based on their income and family situation. They must choose options for housing, transportation, insurance, utilities, philanthropy and more to keep their budget balanced and successfully complete the experience. Those choices involve consequences, just as they do in real life.
Finally, the Haworth JA Entrepreneurship Incubator will harken back to JA’s after school roots. Business leaders will mentor high school students in entrepreneurial ventures. Students will develop a business plan and execute it, bringing their ideas to life. They will learn the critical components of running a successful business, including financing, sales, business operations, marketing, customer service and more.
The major construction and renovation of the 35,000 square foot center is slated to be complete by July, 2021. Storefront sponsorships and build-out began in earnest in January, with projected completion in December of 2021.
If you would like to learn more about Junior Achievement of the Michigan Great Lakes and how you can be a part of this exciting new era for JA, please call Bill Coderre, President and CEO at 616-575-9080 ext. 2222 or Jay Ediger SVP Development ext. 2227.