Company Diary: Junior Achievement is looking for professionals to connect with children

Local business groups co-hosted a networking event with Junior Achievement of Maine to recruit more volunteers to carry out the organization’s mission of teaching youth job readiness and financial literacy.

Members of Startup Maine, Maine Accelerates Growth and Maine Angels were among 100 people who gathered on March 9 at the Portland headquarters of payment processing company Wex for food and drink from Navis Café and short presentations on Junior Achievement. Fourteen people signed up to get more information about volunteering.

“Our young people don’t necessarily know all the opportunities available in the job market,” said Katie Shorey, president of Startup Maine and a volunteer with Junior Achievement. “They want to know what we are doing and how we got here. For people in the startup space, it’s an easy way to give back.

Six hundred volunteers lead Junior Achievement of Maine programs in 140 Maine schools, reaching nearly 12,000 K-12 students from Kittery to Fort Kent.

“A big part of Junior Achievement’s job is to inspire kids to become financially competent, career-ready business thinkers,” said President Michelle Anderson. “We are a bridge between education and the workforce so children can see the relevance of their education and what they might be able to do in the future.”

Junior Achievement provides curriculum and training, and volunteers bring the program to life with stories of their work experiences and lessons learned.

“Students rarely want to talk about what I do,” said Tom Morgan, owner of Breakthrough Sales Solutions. “They want to know why I do what I do and how I chose to get there. So many students are interested in the entrepreneurial journey and starting their own business. They ask a lot of questions. »

Ryan Kelley, a bankruptcy attorney at Pierce Atwood, leads financial literacy classes in middle and high schools. “A lot of other financial literacy programs start in high school or college,” he said. “But economic concepts can and should be taught at an early stage.”

Morgan and Kelley are volunteering with Junior of Achievement of Maine’s Titan Challenge, a starter simulation game played by 300 students at seven locations on April 5. Students take their business through a series of competitions and games that represent three years of business.

“When I was mentoring a class at Westbrook, a student decided to make all of his products in the first term,” Morgan said. “They had a year’s worth of inventory. But in the second quarter, they had to lay off all their production workers and their corporate social responsibility score plummeted. These students learn that the choices they make in running their own business impact not only the business, but also the employees, the community, and the state.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at [email protected]

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