Each year, Junior Achievement-Rocky Mountain (JA) names one person or organization Advocate of the Year. The recipient is selected by JA staff members in recognition of their extraordinary breadth of advocacy activities for JA, from their promotion of JA’s mission to their willingness to go above and beyond to ensure a powerful experience for JA students, volunteers and educators. This year, JA is proud to name Charles Schwab’s Eric Bowler as the 2023 Advocate of the Year.
Born and raised just south of Denver, Eric has been with Schwab for the last 17 years and is currently a Director of Client Service and Support in Lone Tree. He wanted to give back to the community, and Junior Achievement was the perfect fit. “There’s a good alignment between Schwab and Junior Achievement when it comes to financial literacy,” said Eric.
From providing financial resources to spending time in the classroom volunteering, Eric has played an instrumental role in coordinating all the support JA receives from Schwab. He knows how important the curriculum is, especially as students get older and push to become more financially independent.
“Junior Achievement reinstills how important these concepts are as you grow up,” said Eric. “Some of these kids turn 18 and get their first credit card and don’t really understand how to use it responsibly or how to manage their finances. Or they have student loans and don’t have a plan to pay them off. What JA offers is real-world experiences to help prepare them for the future.”
Eric has seen first-hand the great impact that JA has on students of all ages. He enjoys spending time in the classroom directly, and it gives him great joy to spend time with kids who are enthusiastic about the programs.
“I volunteered at one of the first programs following COVID, and that was one of my favorite memories of my involvement with Junior Achievement,” said Eric. “Being back in the classroom was very special. You could see how much it meant to both the teachers and students, and we even got letters from the kids afterward thanking us. It’s incredibly rewarding.”
Eric says that he’s already had conversations about bringing JA into his son’s school and is hoping that programs can get implemented there this fall. Every way you can imagine being involved with JA, he has been there, done that. He encourages others to do the same, especially volunteering.
“I understand people may feel hesitant to get involved in volunteering at JA because they don’t feel like they have teaching experience,” explained Eric. “But that’s okay because JA sets you up for success. The fact that you can see firsthand how important it is to the kids and how much they enjoy it, you know you’re part of something special.”