Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana is one of five award recipients across the country to receive the 2012 MetLife Foundation Sowing the Seeds of Entrepreneurship. The award includes a $10,000 grant to develop and demonstrate untested programs, such as Making It Relevant, the winning idea that will help Junior Achievement volunteers better relate to students of all economic backgrounds.
A big portion of the grant goes toward printing costs and paying for associated staff.
“It’s not a huge grant but an important project for J.A. to stay relevant,” said Lena Yarian, president for Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana.
Winning the grant is just the groundwork for the new program, which will have a finalized curriculum by late fall or early winter, with trial demonstrations taking place as soon as mid-October. Each year the organization undergoes program enhancements and while details of Making It Relevant are still under development, the grant helps volunteers and staff provide educational tools for young students to learn economic success.
All new programs are evaluated for how well they can be replicated for other Junior Achievement branches, Yarian said. “Making It Relevant has value outside of Fort Wayne. The expectation is that we share it … .We will start with a small group in a classroom and get feedback.”
Junior Achievement volunteers use group work and personal finance programs, which include lessons in high and low-risk investing, to “keep it relevant” for each student. The curriculum for Junior Achievement “does a fantastic job of making concepts more relevant and concrete for young people,” added Yarian. “If the examples in classes aren’t relevant, the students don’t pay much attention to the volunteers.”
Similar results occur if examples don’t involve children in lower-income environments.
“Some students don’t have the same options because of this,” said Susie Kaiser, in-school program director of Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana.
Kaiser added that “some students don’t have the knowledge of extra money for spending” and that she is “in the process of looking through material, working with an assistant principal at a lower-socioeconomic school to get (her) feedback.”