Junior Achievement adds business savvy to education

Small Business Spotlight for The Memphis Daily News

Sept. 28, 2013

For Kim Cherry, executive vice president of corporate communications for First Horizon National Corp., a panel discussion with Kemmons Wilson Jr. and Pitt Hyde drove home the rich history of the city’s entrepreneurial spirit.

As a lifelong Memphian, however, she also is well aware of the history of poverty and bankruptcy here.

It is this disparity, this push and pull, that makes an organization like Junior Achievement of Memphis and the Mid-South so important to her.

“I don’t know that there is an organization more important to a bright future for Memphis,” said Cherry, Junior Achievement’s board chair.

CubeSmart team member and Junior Achievement volunteer Skip Betts teaches JA Company Program to a class at Germantown High School.

(Photo: Memphis News/Andrew J. Breig)

The three pillars of the nonprofit education organization’s mission are work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy.

“Our organization is interested in giving the kids the skills necessary to be successful once they finish school,” said Larry Colbert, executive director. “What makes our organization successful on teaching these economic education programs is our delivery system. That’s different than anybody around in how they get the information into the hands of the students.”

This is done through volunteer consultants in school classrooms from kindergarten through 12th grade.

“We are basically a conduit between the business community and the school system,” Colbert said.

JA volunteers teach an hour per day for a five- to 10-week program, depending on the grade. Students learn the basics of economics, how a community works and “why mom and dad have to get up in the morning and go to work,” Colbert said.

At 307 Madison Ave. Downtown, across the trolley tracks from Downtown Elementary School, is JA Biz Town. Since 2002, this replica miniature city with 15 standalone businesses is where fifth and sixth graders have gone to conduct experiential learning . . . (read more)