After last year's success with the pilot of the JA Entrepreneurial Academy, we expanded the program to include an academy with support from Stanley Black & Decker as well as another academy with support from The Hartford. Thirty-two students are participating in these two intensive programs which started in January and will end in May. In addition to the two companies, HYPE (Hartford Young Professionals & Entrepreneurs) is sponsoring these programs. The 16 high school students and 7 volunteers from The Hartford are meeting weekly at Junior Achievement's Office in Hartford, while 16 high school students and 16 volunteers from Stanley Black & Decker meet at the company's headquarters in New Britain.
The academy brings urban and suburban high school students together to gain skills in entrepreneurism, leadership, teamwork, ethics and career development. The program focuses on the development of an actual business, using the "JA Company" program curriculum.
This real world program has students put theory to practice by starting their own venture, from concept to business plan, financing, execution, sales and ultimately, growth or demise.
During last year's pilot program, 15 high school students working with 11 employees from The Hartford created the successful company, "Kozy Toes", which sold socks and gave shareholders a 300% return on investment. The academy provides students with an opportunity to form relationships with each other and the volunteers. Through teamwork, students learn to understand and appreciate the responsibilities each person has in running a business.
This year, with five of the fifteen sessions completed, the Academies have already seen success in terms of engaging students with entrepreneurial spirit and drive.
After her daughter's first session, one parent wrote, "My daughter Kelley and I enjoyed the orientation last night. She came home even more excited and can't wait until the next meeting! We are both so thankful and feel so blessed that she has this opportunity."
Everyone is eager to see what products the teams dream up and turn into reality!