Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest has received $1.5 million from the Otto Bremer Trust of St. Paul that Junior Achievement CEO Gina Blayney said will help "JA" expand business-education-and-entrepreneurship programs in rural Minnesota and North Dakota.
With the support of the foundation established generations ago by Otto Bremer, an immigrant clerk who rose to be a prominent businessman and philanthropist, over the past three years JA grew entrepreneurship programs across the region from 6,100 students to more than 11,000 as it expanded strategic partnerships with educators, organizations and entrepreneurs.
Brian Lipschultz, a trustee of Otto Bremer, said JA of the Upper Midwest, which works with educators and business volunteers, has exceeded Otto Bremer’s expectation.
“The success is a strong testament to what focused programming can do in communities, particularly when multiple stakeholders work together for the same purpose,” Lipschultz said. “The Otto Bremer Trust is the legacy of a bold and caring entrepreneur, so we understand the value of inspiring young people to pursue entrepreneurial ventures, which in turn can help create jobs and strengthen our region’s economy.”
In Minnesota, JA will increase student engagement through a suite of entrepreneurship programs and create opportunities for students in greater Minnesota to use the new JA Innovation Incubator that will be a part of JA’s new Midwest headquarters. It is being built on St. Paul’s University Avenue. It will be the first JA high school business incubator that utilizes technology to innovate and incubate companies. Junior Achievement will focus outside the Twin Cities on Aitkin, Austin, Baxter, Brainerd, Detroit Lakes, International Falls, Marshall, Rochester, St. Cloud, Sartell, Sauk Rapids, Willmar and Winona.
In North Dakota, JAUM will establish strategic partnerships will local businesses, chambers, higher education and other nonprofits. A North Dakota Entrepreneurship Council comprised of successful entrepreneurs will be established to advise the initiative. Communities targeted include Bismarck, Casselton, Fargo-Moorhead, Grand Forks and Minot.
Junior Acheivement programs include:
* JA Company Program, designed for high school youth. The 13-to-20 week program provides students opportunity to start a real company. They create a product or develop a service, market and work as a team to operate their own company as part of a school-based organization, club or after-school setting.
* JA BizTown, a “city’’ within Junior Achievement’s headquarters that serves as a fully-interactive simulated free-market laboratory where students become citizens, consumers and workers for a day. Students learn what it takes to run a business, manage a budget, and work as a team.