Skip to content

Junior Achievement teaches financial skills to local youth

Anyone looking to develop leadership skills, improve their public speaking or provide mentorship to local youth can take advantage of opportunities offered by Junior Achievement of Southern Alberta (JASAB).
Life skills
With the help of local volunteers, Junior Achievement teaches kids of all ages important financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship skills.

Anyone looking to develop leadership skills, improve their public speaking or provide mentorship to local youth can take advantage of opportunities offered by Junior Achievement of Southern Alberta (JASAB). According to Melissa From, president and CEO of JASAB, the organization teaches young people about financial literacy in 117 countries around the world. The southern Alberta branch has been offering programming in Rocky View County for the past decade. “Before then, we kind of dabbled, over the years,” From said. “But in the last 10 years, we’ve been dedicated to doing programs in [local] schools, teaching your kids how to stay out of debt and how to make sound financial decisions going into the future, as well as just some basic work-readiness skills.” For younger students in elementary and middle schools, JASAB focuses on the basics – teaching kids what money is, how to manage money and how to understand their place in the economy. These programs are delivered within the school system, From said. “We bring in a volunteer from the community and train them on our program – they’re really easy to deliver,” she said. “But the advantage to having that external voice come in for three hours, talking to a group of Grade 4, Grade 8 kids, what have you, it’s that new voice, a fresh perspective. It’s not mom and dad, or the same old teacher you see every day.” While From said the program materials provided to volunteers make it easy for them to deliver the lessons to students, there is still the opportunity for the presenter to share some of their own personal experience – providing an aspect of mentorship to the program. “It’s an amazing opportunity to work on your own presentation skills, and your ability to public-speak, in front of a much less intimidating audience,” From said. “This is a great way for young professionals, especially, to gain that kind of experience to help advance their careers.” The program delivered to high-school-aged students is a bit more in-depth, according to From, and focuses more on entrepreneurship and work readiness. While it involves a bigger commitment from volunteers, she said, it also offers the advantage of making a more significant impact on the participating youth. “The students meet after school, once a week for about 20 weeks,” she said. “Together, they do everything involved with starting their own business, whether it’s making something, repackaging something, offering a service, whatever they decide.” With the guidance of JASAB volunteers, the students are responsible for every step involved with running a business – developing the business plan, acquiring shareholders, selling their product or service and managing their income and expenses. Several volunteers are needed to ensure this program runs smoothly, From added. “It runs from the first week of October until the second week of March, but we do take time off for Christmas and in January, so students can focus on their exams,” she said. “We realize all our volunteers have busy lives, as well, so we try to get a few people to come on board and mentor these kids, because we don’t expect each volunteer to make it out for every single meeting.” Again, From said, the program offers strong professional development opportunities for volunteers – providing managerial experience as the leader of a young group of employees. According to From, many people don’t get the chance to take on these kinds of responsibilities in their own career paths until they’ve already accrued some related experience instructing others, and this program will give volunteers exactly that. For more information about volunteering with JASAB, and to see upcoming volunteer opportunities in the area, visit the organization’s website at “In some ways, I think my generation hasn’t done the best job of being fiscally prudent in our own personal finances,” From said. “On top of that, in the last couple of years in Calgary and area, we’ve seen the effects that the economic downturn had on people…I think, in some ways, seeing what has happened with our generation speaks to the importance of teaching our kids to maybe do a bit better.”

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks