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Expanding partnerships

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By Chris Gigley

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Junior Achievement of Central North Carolina aims to expand its reach this year, mainly through new initiatives to make it more active.

Since 1965, Junior Achievement has offered educational programs for grade-school students from elementary through high school in public and private schools in Guilford, Randolph and Alamance counties.

It also works in Rockingham County but has not offered programs there.

That will change this fall, when Junior Achievement plans to begin offering programs to Rockingham County schools, says Cyndy Hayworth, president.

Junior Achievement will also boost its profile in Randolph County, she says.

“The Randolph County Chamber of Commerce has always funded programs there, but the demand has become so strong, they can no longer do it,” she says. “We’re going out on our own beginning in July to do our own fundraising for the first time.”

Strong financial and volunteer support is fueling Junior Achievement’s growth, Hayworth says.

As businesses have become more selective with their philanthropic contributions, she says, Junior Achievement’s link to children and education has made it more appealing.

Junior Achievement offers in-school educational programs taught by business volunteers.

Programs are offered on an individual basis, and teachers need only register with Junior Achievement to be considered.

“The reason this works is our programs run parallel with the curriculum in schools,” says Hayworth. “We’re not taking away from the time teachers have in the classroom.”

The programs offer real-world business lessons. One elementary program, for example, teaches students the economic roles of people in their community.

Finding volunteers to teach the programs has never been a problem, Hayworth says.

Companies that support Junior Achievement financially typically offer volunteers, she says, and the they have found the experience so rewarding, they often keep coming back.

“Both the students and the teachers value what we bring to the classroom,” says Kent Price, vice president, human resources, for American Express and secretary of Junior Achievement’s board of directors.

“We bring real life experiences that the teacher doesn’t have,” says Price, who with his wife have been classroom volunteers for several years. “We also try to make learning fun and practical.”

In a program he taught about investing, he says, he gave students monopoly money to buy stocks. Students tracked the stocks over the course of the program, and it became a game for them.

Volunteers go through a training program at Junior Achievement headquarters before entering the classroom. They are also given a lesson plan to follow. From five to nine weeks, they devote 30 minutes every week to teaching.

In addition to 29 to 40 volunteers every semester, Price says, American Express participates in many Junior Achievement fundraisers, donates money directly to the organization, and matches personal donations by its employees.

Other companies are just as generous, the group says.

Sheetz Convenience Stores, a Pennsylvania-based company that just opened store in Greensboro, sought out Hayworth as soon as it moved into the area.

“They’re very family-oriented and wanted to partner with us,” she says. “When they opened their first store here, they handed us a check for $1,000.”

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