#Celebrating80Years: 2017 marked 80 years of working with Colorado’s nonprofits as they seek to strengthen their communities. Throughout 2018, we will be looking back on this history of the outstanding organizations and people the Trustees have had the opportunity to support. On the blog you will find a history of the Foundation’s grant making and a representative organization from every year since our founding in 1937.
Junior Achievement USA is the largest nonprofit organization in the world dedicated to providing students with business, personal finance, and entrepreneurship training. Volunteers in over 100 countries and all 50 states lead the educational programming for which Junior Achievement USA is known.
In 1992, El Pomar Foundation awarded a total of $803,000 in merit and competitive grants to Junior Achievement USA. These funds supported Junior Achievement USA’s educational programs as well as an expansion of the organization’s headquarters in Colorado Springs.
Grantee Spotlight: Junior Achievement USA
Junior Achievement USA was established in 1919 by Strathmore Paper Company President, Horace A. Moses; American Telephone and Telegraph President, Theodore Vail; and Massachusetts Senator, Murray Crane in an effort to teach farm children skills needed to succeed in the business environment that grew out of the Industrial Revolution. The organization, originally called Boys’ and Girls’ Bureau of the Eastern States League, began in Springfield, Massachusetts, and operated primarily on the East Coast in its early history. The initial program, called “J.A. Company,” was an extracurricular, after-school program that supported students in developing and selling their own product. Until the mid-1970s, Junior Achievement USA operated solely as an after-school program.
As the U.S. economy became more service oriented, Junior Achievement USA developed a program called “Project Business” which placed volunteers in the classroom to teach business concepts through group activities and workshops. With the success of this program and evidence for the value of experiential learning, the organization’s programming expanded to serve both elementary and middle school students. Junior Achievement now runs programs internationally and is the world’s largest organization of its kind, reaching millions of students annually. This history of innovative adaptation is central to the work of Junior Achievement USA; according to CEO, Jack Kosakowski, “Change is kind of in our DNA.”
Junior Achievement USA moved its headquarters from Stamford, Connecticut to Colorado Springs in 1987, when it also celebrated the “year of the million” by reaching a million students served (by 2018, the organization had supported 4.8 million students). Reflecting on his own experience as a first-generation college graduate and Junior Achievement student, CEO Jack Kosakowski stated, “My biggest take away was that the business learning was great, but the most important thing was learning the self confidence that I can change my own world, and don’t have to wait for somebody to do it for me.”
Today, Junior Achievement USA focuses on providing students with business education and financial literacy and its mission, “to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy,” guides these efforts. At the elementary level, students are first encouraged to think of themselves as consumers in an economy, and older students are encouraged to also consider the economic roles of their families, cities, and states. To develop in-school curriculum that does not act as an add-on but weaves seamlessly into the classroom setting, Junior Achievement USA follows state standards and maintains an emphasis on entrepreneurship, financial literacy, and career readiness for middle and high school students. The nonprofit welcomed almost a quarter of a million volunteers into classrooms across the country in the 2016-17 school year. Junior Achievement USA evaluates its programs developmentally, cumulatively, and longitudinally so the curriculum can continue to meet the needs of students in every region.
When Colorado Springs was chosen as the location for Junior Achievement USA’s new headquarters in 1985, El Pomar provided a $1.5 million capital grant for the construction of the office. Since this first contribution, El Pomar has awarded more than $4.3 million in support of Junior Achievement USA’s valuable work.
El Pomar in 1992:
El Pomar Foundation made 165 grants for a total of approximately $8 million in 1992. The Trustees have valued educational nonprofits from the Foundation’s beginning, and in 1992 made sizeable grants to organizations such as the Colorado Springs School, Junior Achievement USA, Graland Country Day School, and Colorado State University Foundation. Two other considerable changes for the Foundation in 1992 were the start of the summer internship program and the repurchasing of the Penrose House, which now operates as a free-of-charge conference center for nonprofits and government agencies.
Images courtesy of Junior Achievement USA
Spotlight by Erin Kerr and Kathryn Benson