HYPE Supports JA Entrepreneurial Academy

Jun 12, 2013

Thanks to support from HYPE and the MetroHartford Alliance, the first JA Entrepreneurial Academy was a great success!  The JA Entrepreneurial Academy was a pilot program that brought urban and suburban high school students together at a corporate site (The Hartford’s home office in Hartford) to gain skills in entrepreneurship, teamwork, leadership, ethics and career development.



The focus of the 15-week, 30-hour program was the development and launching of an actual business, using the JA Company Program curriculum and involving guest speakers, including local entrepreneurs. The program provided engaging, academically challenging, and experiential learning sessions that focused on enhanced entrepreneurial education.

The result of this program was Kozy Toes, a company led by 15-year-old Alyssa Surowiec from Hall High School in West Hartford (who was elected president by her peers) and vice presidents of key departments such as human resources, finance and marketing.  The student-run business was operated by a team of 15 sophomores, juniors and seniors from seven communities: Berlin, East Hartford, Hartford, New Britain, Newington, Simsbury and West Harford.

Guided by a group of volunteers from The Hartford, Kozy Toes employees decided to sell decorative socks, based on their initial market research that demonstrated the socks would be a big seller and the product price that would allow for a high profit margin. The team successfully sold stock certificates for $2 per share to gain initial capital, then went on to exceed their original sales goal by 235% (selling 810 pairs of socks) and earn an operating profit of more than $1,600. The company’s success allowed them to pay a healthy return to shareholders (400%), bonuses to employees – and a generous charitable donation to JA.

Of note: The Hartford was so impressed with the students involved in this program that they awarded a paid summer internship to East Hartford High School sophomore, Stephen Sam.

Special thanks to Alissa Griswold (JA Program and Development Manager) and Jeremy Race (JA Vice President of Development) for their dedication to the JA Entrepreneurial Academy, and for writing this blog post!

Junior Achievement of Southwest New England is a beneficiary of HYPE's annual Tee it Up for Charity at the Travelers Championship.  Funds raised at this event on Thursday, June 20, 2013 will support future JA Entrepreneurial Academy efforts.  For more information about Tee it Up, please click here.  To register to attend the event, please click here.

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