Junior Achievement Receives Funding from The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation to Prepare Low-Income Arizona Students to Succeed in Work and Life.

$300,000 grant enables local nonprofit to provide critical money management and work-readiness education to 2,500 low-income Arizona students

Local nonprofit Junior Achievement of Arizona (JA) received a $300,000 grant from The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation to expand in-class curriculum and BizTown programming in low-income public schools. Devoted to teaching students work-readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy skills, JA serves an average of 83,000 Arizona youth each year, with nearly 60 percent coming from low-income households.

The funding will enable an additional 2,500 students the opportunity to participate in JA education through the organization’s signature programs. JA BizTown is an experiential, simulation-based curriculum that offers fourth through sixth-grade students the opportunity to work in a child-sized economy and gain a sense of adulthood. In JA’s in-classroom programs, volunteers deliver engaging, activity-based financial literacy, workforce readiness and entrepreneurship education during the school day.

JA is filling a critical gap for today’s students that receive limited real-world education in school, particularly when it comes to money management and career-readiness. This need is even more pressing for low-income students, as many of their adult influences may not have the education or background to teach financial and career skills outside of the classroom. JA provides this important education to kindergarten through high-school-aged students using a volunteer-led delivery model executed through partnerships with 400 schools, nearly 3,000 educators and more than 8,000 programmatic volunteers.

“We are honored to have such an esteemed organization as The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation partner in our mission to prepare Arizona youth to succeed in work and life. This investment will give thousands more students the opportunity to gain the life skills and confidence that come with participation in JA programs,” said Katherine Cecala, president of Junior Achievement of Arizona. “We are equally proud to count Mrs. Parsons among our Junior Achievement alumni.”

A businesswoman and philanthropist, Renee Parsons participated in, and benefitted from, JA programs as a student in Michigan. She received similar financial literacy, work-readiness and entrepreneurship training as the youth benefitting from The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation support today.

“As a former Junior Achievement participant, I know firsthand how valuable these programs are for students,” said Renee Parsons. “Junior Achievement was a fun and informative way to learn how businesses operate and an introduction to basic accounting practices. We learned how to look at a business from the beginning: creating a product, selling it and keeping the books.”

The nonprofit’s mission aligns well with that of The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation, which has a large focus on youth initiatives and places a high value on reaching low-income students through enhanced education. JA relies almost entirely on the support of community partners, individuals and local businesses to funds its programs each year.

“Junior Achievement provides students with firsthand experience of what business entails on a level they can understand, actively participate and see the results of their efforts,” said businessman Bob Parsons. “What is learned in this process readies them to begin thinking about one day having businesses of their own – both large and small. It’s on these new businesses that the foundation of our great country is built, and which makes the USA the world’s economic powerhouse.”

JA’s programs have a significant positive impact on students. Youth who receive JA programming are more likely to graduate high school, are 33 percent more likely to graduate college and 67 percent more likely to receive an advanced degree. Additionally, research shows that JA alumni earn 20 percent more in their careers, are more likely to start a business and demonstrate higher critical thinking skills, when compared to the general population. To learn more about getting involved in JA, visit jaaz.org.