Our third Lincoln nonprofit finalist in the 100 Year, $100k Office Makeover Contest is Junior Achievement (JA) of Lincoln. Founded in 1919, JA seeks to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in the global economy with in- and after-school activities. Answers are provided by Tera Norris, JA of Lincoln President.
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A: We have a small staff of seven and are very efficient in the use of our office space. However, many of our furniture items are showing their many years of use. We have bookcases that are falling apart and filing cabinets that are overflowing. Our computer desk chairs are very used and can lead to back and neck pain. Our staff also shares one color printer that was refurbished when it was purchased. A makeover would make our space more organized and comfortable for our staff.
Q: How do you devote ethical business practices to fulfilling your mission?
A: JA has received two prominent awards verifying that the organization represents the best option for philanthropic investors to place their confidence, knowing that their financial contributions will be used effectively and efficiently. The Lincoln JA program has been awarded the coveted Better Business Bureau (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance Seal and Charity Navigator’s highest honor, the Four Star Award. Lincoln JA has received the Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum Summit Awards from the JA Worldwide organization for program, fiscal and management excellence 19 years out of 23. Only 13 percent of JA’s 109 U.S. operations have achieved this level of performance.
Q: What are some positive examples of your influence on the community?
A: Junior Achievement’s mission is to empower young people to own their economic success. In partnerships with businesses and educators, Junior Achievement brings the real world to students, opening their minds to their potential and preparing them for the world of work. Research indicates that students engaged in JA are able to connect classroom lessons with real-life experiences. Students at all grade levels have reported that JA fosters a positive attitude and provides the knowledge and skills that will help them set personal goals and become successful. Volunteers presenting JA programs make school relevant and fun, which means students are more likely to be contributing, successful members of their communities. Volunteers share their real-world experiences and present JA materials to help students bridge the gap between what they learn in school and what they can expect in the world of work. The majority of volunteers affirm that JA programs make an impact on students’ lives. Educators invite Junior Achievement into their classrooms because JA volunteers and program materials offer an exciting learning environment that gives students a real-world perspective. JA program content supports curriculum standards to help students achieve educators’ learning objectives. Overall, educators found that JA programs have a positive influence on students. Donors find JA to be relevant because it inspires students to succeed and prepares them to be work-ready.
Q: Please demonstrate your leadership.
A: Our leadership comes from the committed involvement and partnerships of many of the top businesses, governments, and industries in and around Lincoln. The boards consisting of 75 Directors (our governing board) and Trustees (our advisory board) illustrates this partnership. Finally, the more than 1,000 volunteers giving of their time provide an even greater testimony of our partnership with the community as a whole.