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Youth business group earns financial boost

By newadmin / Published on Sunday, 28 Jan 2018 11:11 AM / No Comments / 5 views

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A nationally based certified public accounting firm has provided a generous shot in the arm for an area nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching business skills to students.

Junior Achievement of Greater Kansas City/St. Joseph & Northwest Missouri received a $20,000 grant check this past week from CliftonLarsonAllen, which has a community branch office. About $7,500 of the funding will be used in St. Joseph, according to Kathy Yost, local program coordinator for Junior Achievement, which has existed in the city for more than 20 years. Its purpose is to help promote financial literacy, inspire entrepreneurship, and prepare students for success in the workplace.

Alex Cross, an audit associate with the firm and board member for the organization, said the CliftonLarsonAllen Foundation designates winter and summer grant recipients. It was decided Junior Achievement was a natural fit, since the standards and qualifications used by both CLA and JA mesh well, he said.

“There’s a lot of volunteers here for Junior Achievement,” Cross said of the staff.

Numerous nationwide applicants vied for the grant award, which required a second round for finalists.

“It’s a significant vetting process,” said Matt Robertson, principal with CLA who is a long-time Junior Achievement teacher, board member and volunteer.

Yost said Junior Achievement is completely volunteer-driven and subsists solely on donations to underwrite its projects.

“It will be used for purchasing the program materials used in the classrooms,” she said of the grant.

Junior Achievement, she continued, is voluntary for students, with signups ongoing for spring classes. There is also a summer school component. Programs are available for kindergarten through the 12th grade.

In kindergarten, for example, students begin learning about the role money plays in society and gather practical information on how to save and share. High school students in part can become involved in a program that allows them to operate a web-based company that calls for effective decisions on marketing, research and development.

“I get to see these kids when they’re still learning about economics,” said Robertson, who termed Junior Achievement as valuable and whose instruction has focused on finances.

His experiences have allowed him to reacquaint with students such as Tyler Kirwan, who last year opened Hello Drink Co. at the East Hills Shopping Center.

In the past, students could attend Junior Achievement sessions at night.

“It’s evolved,” Yost said.

Volunteer hours are flexible, and companies can be paired with various St. Joseph area private and public schools. One example is Altec Industries dispatching volunteers to Skaith and Pickett elementary schools. Coleman Elementary School has held Junior Achievement in summer, allowing students to run their own businesses.

A full slate of business lessons can even be taught in a day. The amount of donations guides the budget and the ability to convey lessons to other schools.

“Teachers want the program,” Yost said.

More schools could become involved in Northwest Missouri, she said, with some of the expansions having potential in Savannah, Missouri, and in the East Buchanan School District in Gower, Missouri.

In the 2016-2017 academic year for the St. Joseph area, the program served over 1,600 students in 79 classes of 19 schools, covering eight school districts and involving 90 volunteers.

For more information, call Yost at 816-561-3558 or 816-465-0373, or email to There is also a Facebook page: Junior Achievement in St. Joseph.

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