October 23, 2012 9:52 pm

Briana Johnson, a recent graduate of Aurora’s Gateway High School, will be recognized for her work as a social entrepreneur for National Philanthropy Day in Colorado on November 9.  In addition to the recognition,  Briana will receive a $3,000 scholarship for college or post-secondary education.

Over the years, Briana participated in several Junior Achievement (JA) programs that opened her eyes to the real world including JA Business Week, where she was part of the winning team.  Briana was a classroom leader for the Carson J Spencer Foundation’s FIRE Within program, a year-long curriculum delivered in partnership with Junior Achievement that inspires high school students to use innovation and entrepreneurial strategies to address root causes of suicide prevention in their communities. Her leadership in this effort was one of many reasons she was nominated by the Carson J Spencer Foundation, Junior Achievement and the Better Business Bureau for Outstanding Youth Philanthropist.

Over the last academic year, Briana helped lead her FIRE Within class to create and implement a very successful social enterprise called “Ask Me about My List.” After discovering that Gateway students were not reaching out for help when distressed, Briana and her classmates create a t-shirt that engaged students in a conversation about mental health. The FIRE Within group asked Gateway students to write lists of reasons for living on their shirts. If any of those reasons came off the list, the students were instructed to tell someone. The class impacted 942 students and netted $346 in sales in just eight weeks.

“The FIRE Program was inspirational,” said Briana. “It not only motivated me, but it motivated my whole school to work towards suicide prevention. By creating a product that sparks interest in mental health, we created a difference, and that was the most rewarding part.”

“Briana does what all incredible social entrepreneurs do,” said Jess Stohlmann, FIRE Program Director for the Carson J Spencer Foundation, “she sets goals that seem unreasonable, and finds a way to achieve them.”

“Briana exemplifies student success in Aurora Public Schools,” said Aurora Public Schools Superintendent John L. Barry. “Her involvement with her peers is to be recognized and commended. We look forward to hearing about Briana’s future achievements!”

Briana also received an $8,000 Inspirational Scholarship from Junior Achievement and a $1,000 Student of Integrity Scholarship from the Better Business Bureau Foundation. Her demonstration of exceptional character, leadership, and ethical values impressed the BBB and Junior Achievement scholarship selection committees.   Briana is currently a freshman at CU-Boulder where she intends to major in environmental engineering so that she can work in conjunction with top energy providers to create a cleaner universe.

Watch the Student Success Stories video to hear Briana talk about her JA experience.

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