Helping Hands Initiative: Junior Achievement

WEST TEXAS -- If you're interested in sponsoring or volunteering with Junior Achievement, you can find more information online HERE.

Financial literacy, workforce readiness, and entrepreneurship are all valuable, if not necessary skills for a person to have. Yet far too many people reach adulthood and aren’t ready to handle their own finances and careers.

“We’ve got to prepare our kids to be able to be successful in life,” Melinda Henderson, executive director of Junior Achievement of the Permian Basin said. “We’re giving them the knowledge and skills that they need for real world living. And there isn’t as much of that taught in the schools, so we help fill a gap.”

Junior Achievement is a national organization in its 100th year of existence, and 57th in the Permian Basin.

Volunteers go to schools across Midland and Odessa, and engage students from kindergarten to 12th grade in games and activities that teach them financial and professional skills.

“We’ve had kindergartners who paint rocks and sell them, or they want to do a lemonade stand,” Henderson said. “So it’s inspiring kids to want to make their own money, save their own money, and get some of that independence that hopefully they want as adults too.”

The lessons are especially important for older students who are preparing to go to college or enter the workforce.

“If they’re wanting to have a big house and all the shoes and all that, we look at what kind of job are you going to have to have?” Henderson said. “And what kind of education are you going to need to have for that job? They learn how all of our decisions are linked together to shape our future.”

Junior Achievement operates through sponsorship from various foundations and corporations and is always looking for new groups to help out.

For volunteers, all they need to do is pass a background check and take a one-hour training course.

“Once they’ve been trained they don’t have to train again if they want to do another semester, because they’re experts by then,” Henderson said.