The “JA Day” in area schools with hundreds of volunteers, the “EnTEENpreneur Pitch Contest,” and the “Stock Market Competition” are among this nonprofit’s signature programs during the school year. Now Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts (JAWM) is back at it again. This time JAWM is building the next generation of entrepreneurs with its now signature summer program, namely the JA BEE Program.
Now in its second year, the JA BEE Program is not your typical summer learning experience. Rather, it focuses on business, entrepreneurship, and looking at high growth/STEM careers through a combination of discussions, field trips, and hands-on learning activities, including forming student companies that develop and sell products. Yes, these are “start-up companies” where students earn a profit from the products they create and ultimately sell.
“Students take away the idea of what an entrepreneur is and how they could take an interest or skill and possibly turn it into a career or even a business of their own,” said Jennifer Connolly, President of JAWM. “They develop their leadership skills and have fun exploring what the Pioneer Valley has to offer.”
Last year’s inaugural program earned rave reviews from participants. The majority (95%) of the students indicated on their evaluation that they would consider returning . Over 80% said they would tell a friend about the BEE Program. Many of the students who participated last year were involved in JA programs during the 2017-18 school year and some even competed in the 2018 JA EnTEENpreneur Challenge with products they developed during the summer program.
"JA helped me find my passion,” said Ambar, a student at the Roger L. Putnam Vocational-Technical Academy in Springfield. She continued, “Because of my JA BEE and JA Company Program experience, I know I can run my own business."
“The JA BEE Program offers students the opportunity to learn and explore ideas and concepts that many of them cannot get in school,” continued Connolly. “It helps them learn about things that interest them and to test out ideas while making new friends.”
The 4-week program is for middle and high school students in Western Mass. The session starts July 9th. This is the second year the JA BEE Program will be hosted at the UMass Center. To register or get more information, visit http://www.jawm.org/summer-program/