FirstBank is one of Junior Achievement’s (JA) champion supporters, instilling and implementing the “banking for good” principles through their community partnerships. Cleve Wortham, member of the JA board of directors and President of FirstBank – Denver ensures that employees are assigned specific roles and responsibilities to support JA, especially through JA’s biggest fundraiser, JA Bowl-A-Thon. Two employees in particular seized JA Bowl-A-Thon opportunities to build a positive and charitable work environment while benefiting the community at large.
At one point or another, we’ve all been the “new kid.” It can be scary, strange and exciting all at once. Entering a new job, meeting friends, and relocating to an unfamiliar city far from home can feel monumental. Janelle Krannich experienced all these challenges simultaneously a few months ago as she moved across the country and became an internal auditor at FirstBank. That’s why her top priority as a new hire was to dive into community-building activities at work. Fortunately, FirstBank’s involvement with JA created an opportunity for her at the perfect time.
“FirstBank is very Colorado community-focused,” Krannich says. “They sent us an email about JA Bowl-A-Thon, and I wanted to get involved in absolutely everything.”
Krannich attempted to rally a team in her department but was unsuccessful, so she planned to give her donation to another JA Bowl-A-Thon team instead. However, when auditing another department, she shared her predicament and they eagerly invited her to become a member of their team, The Bankrollers.
Fundraising and contributing to the mission of JA was equally as exciting to Krannich as the social aspect of JA Bowl-A-Thon. She even exceeded her $1,000 goal by 25 percent, and she later joined JA Engage, a network of young professionals who raise awareness and funds for JA.
Krannich says, “Once I read about JA and saw that it focused on children and their need for economic education and fiscal literacy, I was such a big fan. I can’t tell you how many of my friends struggle with the basics of finances and it’s really frustrating…You don’t have to live paycheck to paycheck if you have these habits instilled in you at a young age.”
To fundraise successfully, Krannich suggests, “Take what you like, put it into the things that you love, and get people interested.”
“Think of the things that you like to do…whether you want to host a video game tournament to raise money because you’re good at video games…or board games, or a bake sale, or in our case, we did a cake walk, which was super cute and super fun. If you do what you love, it’s not work!”
Through JA Bowl-A-Thon, Krannich not only accomplished her fundraising goal, but also her initial goal of expanding her network.
“It was a really great opportunity to hang out with people from work outside [the office], and just get to know their personalities,” she says. “I’m big on community…it’s been very exciting so far. The impact is huge.”
Krannich isn’t alone in her eagerness to bond with coworkers while fundraising for JA. ZZ BenQuadi, a FirstBank loan officer, was asked to take on the company coordinator role for JA Bowl-A-Thon this year, and he says, “I took the opportunity and ran with it.”
It was his first time participating in the event and he was captured by JA’s mission.
“When I first heard about Junior Achievement, it was really intriguing to me. I’m motivated by what JA is doing in the community, and I want to be a part of it,” BenQuadi says.
BenQuadi is a natural leader and rose to the Company Coordinator responsibilities with ease. FirstBank’s company-wide success can be credited to the supportive environment BenQuadi helped create, as well as the way he encouraged individuals to take ownership of their fundraising efforts.
He says, “It’s a lot of work, and there’s a lot of moving pieces from the beginning all the way up until the end, but really, having fun and stressing to people to do their part is essential.”
“People [at FirstBank] get really involved and they make fun competitions out of fundraising,” BenQuadi adds. “Positive energy at work is something we look forward to and something we work towards. It makes people a little more comfortable around each other and more open to expressing ideas for what they think can be successful.”
This year FirstBank set a company record, raising a grand total of $93,000 and counting. They hope to earn a spot at the top of the JA Bowl-A-Thon company leaderboard by the end of the fiscal year.