Outgoing Chairman, Gil Pomar, left, with Thompson S. Baker Recipient Blake Wilson at Junior Achievement’s Hall of Fame luncheon on June 24. Photo: Living Image Photography
Blake Wilson, President and Chief Operating Office of EverBank, said, “Junior Achievement absolutely changed the trajectory of my life,” in remarks made at Tuesday’s Junior Achievement Hall of Fame event. At the event, Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Nicolai Vitti, spoke of the relevance of Junior Achievement in the public school system.
Junior Achievement of North Florida’s 16th annual Hall of Fame luncheon was held Tuesday in the East Touchdown Club at EverBank Field. The event showcased the impact the nonprofit is making in the lives of youth and honored those who make Junior Achievement’s efforts possible.
The Thompson S. Baker award is named after the founder of Florida Rock Industries and recognizes individuals who have dedicated themselves to bettering the community through leadership, hands-on involvement and philanthropic deeds. Mr. Wilson spoke of his connection to Junior Achievement during his high school years. The once Olympic-hopeful freestyle skier found his purpose in business when he participated in a JA class. “I’m living proof that JA can make a difference in a young person’s life.”
Dr. Vitti spoke to the relevance of Junior Achievement in the public school system stating that currently, “Everything is reduced to a test. What JA has done…is application based, it’s real, it’s relevant…” He spoke of the future of the public school system in which business people are valuable partners and of his ambition to make Duval County Public Schools a national model for public education.
The luncheon honored and recognized the companies and individuals who enabled Junior Achievement to reach over 40,000 students during the 2013-14 school year. Florida Blue, Citi and Bank of America/Merrill Lynch were awarded first, second and third place, respectively, for volunteer companies of the year. Laurie Allen and Bruce Barcelo were inducted into the JA Hall of Fame for their efforts in substantially contributing to Junior Achievement’s success.
Emceed by JA students, the event highlighted Junior Achievement’s most recent projects including Finance Park Virtual, an online budgeting and personal finance simulation that has been embedded in the Duval County Public Schools high school curriculum.
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