Tag Archives: joyce richards


Junior Achievement, Microsoft Prepare Valley Students

Junior Achievement of Arizona (JAAZ) and Microsoft announced a new collaboration as part of the Microsoft YouthSpark initiative to help local students explore careers in the technology hardware and software industries.

Through Microsoft YouthSpark, students from GateWay Early College High School, Girls Leadership Academy, Mesa High School and Skyline High School participated in the JA Job Shadow program, including teacher-led classroom instruction around key work-readiness skills such as leadership, teamwork and how to conduct a successful job search. The students visited a Microsoft Retail Store for a day-long mentoring experience giving them a first-hand glimpse into the world of work and the opportunity to apply their classroom learning.

“We are thrilled to partner with Microsoft to help students develop and enhance skills needed for future career pursuits,” said Joyce Richards, president of JAAZ.  “Through JA Job Shadow, students will learn resume writing, job interviewing and decision making, to help position them for success in the workforce.”

Students in the Phoenix-metro area join youth in 49 other communities across the United States to participate in the effort.

Financial Literacy Needs to be Taught Outside the Classroom

Financial Literacy Needs To Be Taught Outside The Classroom

As the spring school semester begins, one of the most valuable lessons that kids, especially teens, can learn isn’t being taught in a classroom setting: financial literacy.

Or, how not to graduate into financial problems.

But, aside from the birds and the bees talk, the money talk is probably the most uncomfortable for parents. To help ease this anxiety-ridden discussion, below are some key areas that should be discussed as we enter this new school year.

Where does money come from?

Turns out, money neither grows on trees nor out of parents’ wallets. And, not all money is meant to be for “fun,” such as at the movies, with a new girlfriend or on new iPod songs.

But how do you get a kid to understand this?

Why not focus on a “money in, money out” budget with them?

Often, children focus only on money going out. But where does it go? And when? And why? A budget, reviewed with and by a parent each month, can be an easy way to show the value of money on a regular basis.

For example, if a child gets a $40 allowance each month, have them develop a budget to make that money last for an entire month. This means saying “no” to spending all the “fun” money at once. It also helps children understand how to prioritize.

The lesson: Sometimes a lifestyle adjustment is required in order to ensure one does not exceed money going out versus money coming in.

Credit cards are supposed to be paid back?

Believe it or not, we actually recommend working with children on building credit at a young age, but only if they can do so without maxing out on their available balance, straining to make payments or, worse, defaulting.

This is an especially important lesson to be instilling before college. Why?

Credit card companies generally offer low limits to young adults entering college. This typically allows for more freshmen to apply and get approved as soon as possible. Some offer incentives to apply. Many companies simply place applications on college desks and in dorms — and freshmen apply by the thousands, not realizing that every penny spent on that credit card is owed back, with interest.

By working with children on credit starting from a young age, parents can help them grow to understand the impact of good or bad credit on one’s life. In addition, just as bad spending is habit-forming, so are good spending and saving.

Don’t do it alone!

Sure, parents are the first — and best — figures to talk about money with children and teens. However, you are not alone! There are resources to help reinforce your messages and lessons. For example, Junior Achievement is available to  most high school students in Arizona – Junior Achievement.

“Junior Achievement of Arizona has been educating K-12 students about entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy since 1957,” says Joyce Richards, president of Junior Achievement of Arizona. “This year alone, we will engage more than 72,000 Arizona students in our programs.”

The organization, known as JA to most Arizona educators and business leaders, offers supplemental programs to elementary, middle and high schools statewide as well as after-school programs and on-site education opportunities.

The JA Finance Park enables students to build foundations for making intelligent, life-long personal finance decisions. The program, focused on middle school-age kids, consists of 19 teacher-led lessons at school, and is coupled by a half-day on-site simulation in the Finance Park, which is located in Tempe and done as a field trip in most cases. This on-site simulation takes kids on a journey to create a personal budget including rent/mortgage, car payments, insurance, savings, entertainment, groceries and more. They are even given simulated careers and salaries.

“As students strive to create a balanced budget, they begin to understand the value of money, and make the connection between hard work, education, and their future earnings,” Richards says.

For more information about Junior Achievement of Arizona and any of its programs on financial literacy, please visit jaaz.org.

Junior Achievement JA You’re Hired! Challenge 2011

Junior Achievement JA You’re Hired! Challenge Teaches Students Workforce Skills

Hundreds of Valley high school students learn workforce skills, compete for internships at the Junior Achievement of Arizona (JAAZ) JA You’re Hired! Challenge at the Tempe Center for the Arts

According to a 21st Century Skills study, 42 percent of employers rate the overall preparation of high school graduates for entry-level jobs as deficient. On March 29, more than 350 Valley high school students will defy this statistic at the Junior Achievement of Arizona (JAAZ) JA You’re Hired! Challenge at the Tempe Center for the Arts.

The JA You’re Hired! Challenge is a part of a three component, award-winning program created by JAAZ in partnership with the University of Phoenix to develop high school students’ work-readiness skills, many of which are not addressed in a normal high school curriculum.

“We realize that even some of the best schools lack the ‘real world’ lessons that are needed to transition from student to employee,” says Joyce Richards, president of JAAZ. “JA You’re Hired! teaches students those skills and does so in a realistic, competitive environment to help them make smart academic and economic choices.”

The first component is a rigorous curriculum led in class by Junior Achievement volunteers to prepare them for the JA You’re Hired! Challenge. Over the course of a few weeks, students learn proper interview techniques; work to improve their writing, language, math and critical thinking skills; and how to apply what they learn in the classroom to real life situations.

These skills are then put to the test by nearly 50 Phoenix area hiring managers who will be on-site the day of the JA You’re Hired! Challenge. They will be testing the students on their abilities through mock interviews, marketing pitches and public speaking exercises.

Some of the hiring managers will be offering summer internships. Students selected will continue to the third component of the program, which is comprised of successfully completing a paid internship with regular correspondence between the employer and Junior Achievement advisors.

“What is truly unique about this program is that it goes beyond lessons and workshops,” Richards says. “Students actually go through the hiring process and apply everything this program has taught them. And like the real world, not everyone gets the job, but at least now they are prepared for whatever challenges they may face in the job market.”

This year’s JA You’re Hired! Challenge program is made possible thanks to the generous support of University of Phoenix and community partners, such as Phoenix Suns Charities, Triton Technologies, Crexando, FedEx, Allstate, bluemedia, Charles Schwab, Manpower, SHRM and others.

For more information on Junior Achievement or ways to get involved, please call 480-377-8500 or visit jaaz.org.

About Junior Achievement of Arizona
Junior Achievement is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization which believes that every child deserves an education in economics and finances in order to inspire and prepare them for success in a global economy. Serving Arizona’s youth since 1957, JA prepares young people for the real world by showing them how to become self-sufficient, how to create jobs which make their communities robust, and how to apply entrepreneurial thinking to the workplace. Junior Achievement of Arizona reached nearly 83,000 students during the 2010-2011 school year.