The Department of Education has granted $2 million to Junior Achievement of Arizona through the ESSER III Setaside funds, which is now called the AZ ARP School & Community Grant, to expand JA Inspire. The additional funds will be used to hire 5-7 staff and reach 175,000 Arizona middle and high school students over the next 2.5 years.
“JA Inspire is our premier career exploration program that engages primarily low-income middle and high school students both in the classroom and in a virtual career fair setting,” said Katherine Cecala, president, Junior Achievement of Arizona. “It’s fosters collaboration across K-12, post-secondary educational paths, and high demand industries in our workforce. Business parents, volunteers, teachers and governmental partners all work together to deliver career exploration and career readiness programming.”
This program helps students understand the skills, knowledge, behaviors and attitudes they need to build to become successful in the workforce and have a financially secure future. JA Inspire gives students the career and financial literacy knowledge to pursue high-wage, high-quality jobs for a prosperous life and, over time, be a resource for them to find jobs, apprenticeships and internships.
Cecala added, “We know that having a good job and being financially stable fall under the economic stability domain of the social determinants of health.”
Important highlights from JA Inspire:
- 93% of AZ middle and high school students who have participated in JA Inspire would recommend it to their friends
- 87% of students learned about a new career path and/or learned more information about a current career path they were already interested in pursuing
- We have seen a 40% knowledge gain around career-readiness knowledge
- Each student explores an average of 10 Arizona employer booths per visit and spends 3 hours interacting within the virtual experience
Junior Achievement of Arizona (JA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that equips Arizona students to succeed in work and life by giving them the knowledge and skills they need to manage their money, plan for their future, and make smart academic, career and economic choices. Since 1957, JA has taught kids, kindergarten through high school, about financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship. The organization’s hands-on, age-appropriate programs are delivered by more than 8,000 corporate and community volunteers. Despite educational obstacles during the pandemic, JA reached more than 65,000 students in the 2020-2021 school year.