Throughout June and July this summer, Fidelity Investments volunteers devoted their time teaching Junior Achievement to kids at Daniel, a home for abused, neglected, or abandoned kids. The kids were split into either JA Girl$ or JA Boy$ groups and for one hour each Sunday they participated in JA More Than Money, learning the importance of budgeting and money management.
This involvement was initiated in 2012 by Jennifer Chapman, director of public affairs for Fidelity. Teaching financial literacy programs to gender-specific classes at Daniel provided a unique way for the men and women of Fidelity to get involved with at-risk youth.
“The opportunity to work with Daniel has been tremendous for our firm and has touched me deeply in a personal way,” stated Fidelity employee and JA Board Member Chris Laymon. “I went expecting to teach them something about money and finance, instead they taught me something about the power of just being there for them.”
He continues, “We had forty-two volunteers work over a six week period, but many came back every week and it was amazing to see how much more engaged they were each time. It was meaningful to the children and to us.”
On Sunday July 28 a celebration was held at Daniel, marking the girls’ and boys’ completion of the JA program. The kids were awarded certificates and treated to cake and snacks. They were also given “Fidelity Dollars” that they could use at the “store” set up on site, choosing how to spend their money amongst the cups, backpacks, and games available.
Volunteer Matt Skinner remarked, “The biggest hope I have is that they use the skills and lessons we have taught them to go on and become successful in spite of their situations, but more importantly that they remember us as a positive influence in their lives moving forward; that someone does care about them and they have support behind them.”
JA Girl$ and JA Boy$ aims to prepare young women and men for successful financial and economic futures. Although the program spanned six weeks, the lessons and advice will resonate with these kids as they grow into young adults.
“Volunteering with JA provides me the opportunity to teach kids about the importance of making wise money choices, while having fun” said Fidelity volunteer Jane Marcks. “Jacksonville is such a great place to live, working with JA makes it fun and easy to give back!”
Tickets are available for Smart Women Make Change, an annual event to benefit the JA Girl$ initiative. Visit www.smartwomenmakechange.com for more info.