NEW BEDFORD — Junior Achievement of Southern Massachusetts has been named a Peak Performance Award winner by Junior Achievement USA — one of only 18 Junior Achievement areas across the United States to receive this prestigious honor.
Criteria includes strong program growth and implementation standards as well as sound financial and operational management, officials said in a news release.
Junior Achievement of Southern Massachusetts President Jeffrey Pelletier expressed his appreciation for all those who support JA across the region.
“Our education programs that are preparing our local students to be successful in school and in their future careers grew by over 60 percent last year as we reached over 6,600 students," he said in the release. "That is only possible because of the generosity of this region."
Pelletier went on to cite "our generous partners (who) help us keep these programs 100 percent free to local students and schools ... the over 200 local volunteers who work with JA to help our young people see the great potential that they have, and ... our outstanding Board of Directors and staff that work tirelessly to inspire and prepare our young people for success.”
Through an extensive volunteer network, Junior Achievement of Southern Massachusetts provides in-school and standalone programs to students, kindergarten through grade 12, which focus on three key areas: work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy.
Local volunteers guide the students through JA’s interactive and hands-on curriculum and also share their personal stories with students providing an important mentorship component to all JA programs.
Last year, 215 volunteers brought JA programs to 52 different schools across 18 cities and towns in Southern Massachusetts, officials said.
Nathan Araujo, chairman of the board of directors and president & CEO of R4L Companies and Advance Career Services, said in a statement: “I would like to thank everyone that has made our organization’s recent successes and this honor possible. Our organization exists to serve students and support schools and thanks to our partners and volunteers across the region JA helps thousands of local students stay engaged in school, plan for their future careers, and become active participants in their communities.
"This is important work and we are grateful to the community for helping us expand our efforts.”
In addition to expanding the number of students that it reaches each year, Junior Achievement has also created new and innovative programs over the last few years including its SPARK Program — an entrepreneurship and leadership development program for local middle school girls which is highlighted by spending a week each summer on a college campus.
Samantha Fregault, a member of the current SPARK Program cohort and a seventh-grader at Wamsutta Middle School in Attleboro, said: “I love JA because it allows me to dream about my future, build a plan for how I want to get there and meet lots of great friends my age looking to do exciting things as well.”
More information is available by contacting Pelletier at firstname.lastname@example.org or (508) 997-6536.