New JA Partnership: YouthCare & Symetra

Great partnerships create great opportunities for youth across Washington state. Junior Achievement of Washington is proud to introduce our new partners, YouthCare and Symetra, who will be collaborating to support and educate youth experiencing homelessness.

YouthCare works to end youth homelessness and to ensure that young people are valued for who they are and are empowered to achieve their potential. Founded in 1974, YouthCare was one of the first shelters to serve runaway and homeless youth on the West Coast. The goal was to help young people find safety today and build a future for tomorrow. YouthCare currently operates 15 sites across Seattle and serves over 1,500 young people every year through a comprehensive range of services including early intervention, shelter, housing, education, and employment training.

Youth playing piano at YouthCare’s Passages housing program
Youth gardening at YouthCare’s Passages housing program

Junior Achievement of Washington is partnering with YouthCare to provide job readiness and financial literacy curriculum tailored to the needs of youth experiencing homelessness. This collaboration with JA will allow YouthCare to expand its employment training opportunities for young people significantly. Program offerings will be focused on high school completion, college access, financial literacy, time management, and more.

This opportunity would not be possible without the generous support of another great JA partner, Symetra. Symetra identified the opportunity to connect the two organizations and is underwriting the initiative through a $105,000 multi-year grant to YouthCare. We are working collaboratively to customize, design, pilot, and implement a comprehensive and holistic job readiness curriculum for young people as they explore their career and financial stability goals. Junior Achievement and our volunteers will then be involved in teaching and facilitating the curriculum as the long-term partnership unfolds.

The curriculum pilot has recently launched and in this pilot stage, around 90 young people experiencing homelessness will access the curriculum. The focus during this time will be in assessing the curriculum in practice to ensure the programming is culturally responsive, trauma-informed, and youth-centric.

Interview with JA Take Stock Student Winner

JA Take Stock in Your Future Spring Break Camp presented by Delta Air Lines was an opportunity for high school students to learn about the stock market and trading from finance industry professionals from Bank of America. They also gained access to a multi-week app simulation in which they applied their knowledge to the actual stock market with simulated money! In this post, we speak to 2nd place winner Stuart Loverro, a 12th grade student in Ellensburg High School. Congratulations, Stuart!

JA of Washington: What drew you to participate in JA Take Stock in Your Future Spring Break Camp? What kind of knowledge did you have about the stock market before this program?

Stuart Loverro: I first learned of the JA Take Stock in Your Future program through my high school’s FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) Chapter Advisor. I was competing in the “Securities and Investments” FBLA event and she thought this JA course would be a perfect fit. I have been investing in the stock market for over six years, and recently started to follow the market more closely.

Stuart Loverro
JA Take Stock workshop breakout room, hosted by Bank of America mentors

JAWA: What are the top 3 most interesting aspects of the stock market that you learned about?

SL: The most interesting things I learned about the stock market was: the difference between an ETF and a mutual fund; the process of going public with an “IPO”; and that companies can buy stock back.

JAWA: What was your experience like working with the Bank of America mentors?

SL: I really enjoyed working with my Bank of America mentor Steve Gray. He provided a very good explanation of stock market basics, and was willing to answer any questions I had!

JAWA: What was your strategy during the simulation?

SL: My strategy in the Stock Market Challenge was to always have my money in the market. If I was going to class or busy at a tennis match, I always made sure to have all my money in safe Index funds like VTI and VOO. This allowed me to not worry about large changes to my account, but still allowed for some growth. I also took some risky moves with online gambling stock like DKNG and PENN during the prime of hockey season. This combination of strategies allowed my account to recover from some bad trades and overall end up profitable. 

JAWA: How has this experience affected your future education and/or career plans?

SL: Talking to the Bank of America mentors made me interested in a career in Wealth Management, and provided me with a network to set up a possible internship.

Interview: John Oppenheimer, Founder & CEO of Columbia Hospitality

In honor of National Entrepeneurship Month, we interview John Oppenheimer, JA alum and Founder & CEO of Columbia Hospitality.

Junior Achievement: What was your key driving force to becoming an entrepreneur? Why the hospitality industry?

John Oppenheimer: I developed a passion for the hospitality industry very early in life. As the first skycap at the Boise, Idaho airport, my job was to help travelers haul their luggage. I quickly realized that exceptional service made all the difference. We were only paid by the tips we made, so I immediately learned the importance of friendly, hospitable, enthusiastic service. We serve with these same standards at Columbia Hospitality – quality service speaks volumes to our guests, residents, and clients.

My spirit of entrepreneurship grew thanks to Junior Achievement. I was an active student participant and cherished selling the JA bird feeders door-to-door. That sales experience has stuck with me and I’ve never forgotten the feeling of closing a sale of one of those bird feeders.

JA: What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

JO: What satisfies me in business has evolved over the years. Today, it is incredibly exciting to watch Columbia Hospitality team members grow and increase their responsibilities faster than they ever dreamed possible. Team members loving what they do translates to delighted customers and inevitably positive financial results, both for the business and the team, which thrills me each time it happens.

JA: What characteristics would you say best suit an entrepreneur?

JO: Key characteristics of successful entrepreneurs, in my opinion, can be boiled down to a few key traits: taking risks; acting with urgency; recognition that success is a team sport-happy teams create happy customers; keeping perspective; focusing on exceeding expectations every day with everyone.

JA: What advice do you have for students today to launch a business? What activities would you recommend budding entrepreneurs to invest their time in?

JO: I recommend students get involved in and commit to helping the communities in which they live. For me, active participation in multiple non-profits has been a great educational tool, broadening my perspective and a wonderful way to meet people and other professionals that have like-minded interests. Giving back to the communities in which we operate is also a tenet of Columbia Hospitality through our Columbia Cares program. Those engagements have made me a well-rounded leader. Bottom line – get involved outside of school and commit to making your community a better place.

Please enjoy this Q13 clip of John on the subject of entrepreneurship!

National Apprenticeship Week: Hermanson company Spotlight

JA of Washington is proud and grateful for the strong relationships we have with our corporate and community partners. Their support and engagement make it possible to connect with students from various geographical regions, walks of life, and areas of interest. We have begun strengthening and creating new relationships with organizations that offer Apprenticeship programs that show students that the path to a successful and fulfilling career isn’t only via a 4-year college or university. For National Apprenticeship Week, we’re delighted to spotlight Hermanson Company, a regional leader in Mechanical Systems Construction and a leader in empowering young people to own their success through Apprenticeship and Pre-Apprenticeship programs.

As a leading mechanical contractor in the Pacific Northwest, Hermanson Company offers a comprehensive mechanical system design, construction, and repair & maintenance services suite. For years, they’ve worked to exceed their customers’ expectations through value-driven expertise. Their projects include Amazon headquarters, Google’s Lakefront Blocks, the IKEA Retail store, the Salish Lodge remodel, and more.

Hermanson Company is also an advocate and supporter of Apprenticeship and Pre-Apprenticeship programs for various trades. Their advocacy is instrumental in exposing young people to the wide variety of career options in the trades field.

Hermanson Company’s relationship with JA of Washington is one we cherish deeply. Rick Hermanson, CEO of Hermanson Company has personally and professionally supported JA over the years and has long expressed his desire to help build out the trades industry as a component in JA programming.

In October of 2020, Hermanson Company took part in the North Central Education Service District’s Skills and Technical Sciences Virtual Expo where JA hosted two “booths.” A team of Hermanson’s marketing and financial staff ran the Interviewing for Success and Financial Empowerment booths, answering student questions about apprenticeship programs and general career advice. We appreciate the team’s time and energy in providing these important resources for regional high school students exploring their next educational and professional life steps.

Thanks to partners like Hermanson, RPAC, and ANEW, JA of Washington can expand our vision for our programs and, thus, our students by introducing the trades industry as a key part of our career-readiness pillar. #LetsAchieveTogether