Financial lessons, mastered early

Financial lessons, mastered early

 

Give youth the chance to learn by doing. This simple principle sparked the founding of Junior Achievement in 1919 by AT&T President Theodore Vail, Strathmore Paper President Horace Moses and U.S. Sen. Murray Crane, R- Mass.

Give youth the chance to learn by doing. This simple principle sparked the founding of Junior Achievement in 1919 by AT&T President Theodore Vail, Strathmore Paper President Horace Moses and U.S. Sen. Murray Crane, R- Mass.

Junior Achievement, an after-school business club, would help prepare high school students for a modern entrepreneurial business world through hands-on experiences, such as learning to run a business, managing finances and marketing and selling products.1

Almost a century later, Junior Achievement has expanded into a worldwide organization with multiple in-school and out-of-school programs for students for all ages. But its mission is much the same: By teaching entrepreneurship, workplace readiness and financial literacy, “Junior Achievement inspires and prepares young people to succeed in a global economy.”2

Partners such as Huntington Bank help the group realize its goal.

Huntington works with Junior Achievement in cities throughout the Midwest, supporting the organization financially and through volunteering — bank colleagues donate time and talents to teaching programs in local schools. Colleagues in central Indiana teach Junior Achievement’s financial literacy basics to children in kindergarten through third grade. In 2013, 60 colleagues in Mahoning Valley conducted workshops, and colleagues in Cleveland reached more than 1,000 students.

“It has become a part of our culture internally,” said Renee Williams, Huntington’s vice president of community development. “We’re consistent. Huntington adopts a school and is there each year.”3

Huntington also sponsors JA BizTown, a program helping elementary-age students take classroom-learned concepts and put them into action in an interactive, simulated town. Students operate businesses, manage finances and run the city’s government for a day. In 2015, there were 35 BizTown programs throughout the United States.

The Indianapolis program features Huntington Bank as one of the town’s businesses. During the daylong program, Huntington colleagues are on hand to help the kids deposit paychecks, make purchases and work as bank “employees.”4

Huntington’s commitment to financial education with Junior Achievement has recently included the JA in a Day programs, which let elementary school students go through multiple lessons and earn a JA certificate in just one day. Williams helped launch JA in a Day in 2011 for Huntington in Michigan. Since then, hundreds of colleagues have reached more than 4,000 underserved students in Grand Rapids, Holland, Kalamazoo, metropolitan Detroit, Muskegon and Traverse City/Kalkaska.5

Career planning and continuing education are part of the program.

“It starts to post the question, ‘What’s your plan for going forward?’ It causes a lot of kids to look and say, ‘What am I good at? All right, I’m good at this. What types of careers are out there for me?’” Williams said. “When I get into that career, what will I do with that first dollar that I have?”6

Junior Achievement of the Michigan Great Lakes Inc. honored Williams with the David B. Hensch JA Volunteer of the Year Award in 2014 for her efforts to champion JA.7

“JA teaches children not only how to save money, but also earn money and be good stewards,” Williams said. “As the children gain a better understanding, and are more fiscally responsible and economically empowered, then that helps to build up a stronger generation going forward, and hopefully help with the growth of the local economy.”8

Providing skills and financial knowledge to last a lifetime — it’s Junior Achievement’s objective. Huntington Bank will continue to help realize this goal in Midwest communities, one classroom at a time.

Copy of Biztown Group2 - Indy region (1)
Huntington volunteers at the Indianapolis “town” help teach students about banking.