January 14, 2020 9:21 pm
JA programs show kids how to be creative and entrepreneurial, so it’s our responsibility as an organization to be innovative in the work we do too. That’s why we partner with companies who share our vision and strive to find unique, hands-on ways to impact the future.   Over the next few weeks we’ll be taking a deep dive into aspects of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and what it means for JA supporters to lead with integrity and ingenuity. This week, we talked with some of our partners how they resonate with different JA values.

If you feel that businesses should give back to the community in which they operate, you are not alone. Research by Cone Comm found that 87% of people will buy a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about. Also, CEOs across the world say that “impact on society” was their top priority when measuring their company’s success in 2019, according to a report from Deloitte. Junior Achievement-Rocky Mountain, Inc. (JA) partners make a real difference because they don’t just focus on creating a positive image for themselves. Instead, their goals truly align with the organizations they support, and each one has a unique “why” behind their engagement.

Janus Henderson gets excited about JA because they share our desire to make a global impact. Janus Henderson sponsors JA Titan, and because of their support, we were able to revamp the program and make it more accessible to kids on virtual platforms, even if they don’t have JA in their schools.

Demesha Hill, the Janus Henderson Community Relations Manager, says, “It was really important for us to find an organization that had representation in all of the different global markets that we operate in. We really believe in investing in innovative education programs that are truly scalable. JA Titan was very intriguing to us, because not only could they teach it in the classroom, but also if someone lives in a rural area and had a smartphone, they could also access that learning curriculum.”

JA also works to empower kids to succeed no matter their background. Our partner Xcel Energy helps us bridge gaps by taking their vision on diversity and inclusion beyond the workplace and into their JA involvement.

“At Xcel Energy, we keep customers and communities at the center of all that we do. We value diversity at work and we love that JA supports schools and organizations that are made up of a diverse group of people, and that JA is inclusive of everybody,” says Xcel Energy Director of Diversity and Inclusion Baird McKevitt, who also serves on the JA Board of Directors. “As an Xcel Energy community partner, JA is right there with us, making sure that everybody has the ability to learn entrepreneurship and financial well-being, and using inclusive practices to open up opportunities to many who might not get this kind of education outside of JA.”

He adds, “By being out in our schools, at JA Finance Park [presented by Transamerica], or other JA volunteer opportunities, we’re living the words we say about being a trusted community partner.”

Establishing trust with community members can be even harder when dealing with taboo topics. David Billingslea, a local CFP and wealth advisor, says that for many of the clients at his firm, finance is a sensitive subject and it isn’t always easy to discuss, even with their advisor. Billingslea and his coworkers found that by being involved with JA, they’re able to show their clients that they truly care about financial well-being in the community, which makes them more human and breaks down walls.

“Talking about money is a tough thing, so we build strong relationships with clients through trust and integrity,” Billingslea says. “It helps a lot to build that foundation if they know who we are and demonstrate that by having a connection to the community. We’ve even had a number of clients volunteer with us at JA in a Day. That’s just another way for us to get to know them outside the conference room.”

Billingslea sums it all up perfectly when he says, “Having a relationship with JA is just a natural extension of something that we talk about being important, and if we talk about it being important, then we should act on it internally and externally.”

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