Volunteering with Junior Achievement

May 13, 2016

Donating money is not the only way one can give back to the community. Donating one’s time is also a great way to make a huge impact. I’m very fortunate that my company, Travelers Insurance, encourages employees to volunteer, and even goes as far as organizing community involvement activities. Travelers commitment to having a positive social impact is evident in many ways.

My personal favorite company-organized activity is volunteering with Junior Achievement of Southwest New England (JA). Junior Achievement offers volunteer-delivered K-12 programs that foster work-readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy skills. The lessons are typically planned for one hour per week for six weeks, but Travelers volunteers are able to deliver the entire curriculum in one school day. Travelers encourages employees to form small groups to enter into the classroom and facilitate the activities that are incorporated into each lesson.

This spring’s JA Day on Friday, May 6th took place at the Asian Studies Academy at Belizzi School, a K-8 public school on South Street in Hartford. My group of five volunteers (all of us young men) chose to teach 8th grade, where the lessons revolved around personal finance and financial literacy. We’ve enjoyed teaching 8th grade in the past because not only can you speak to the students as young adults, but because 8th grade is also a key transitional year. Before diving into personal finance lessons we warm them up by allowing them to talk about their own skills, interests, and passions. We encourage them to keep these traits in mind as they move onto to high school and beyond as they try to find their niche in our economic society. 

As a self-proclaimed personal finance nerd, I love talking to anyone about money, but I think I enjoy talking money with these students more than with anyone else. I led the activity related to budgeting and taught how the goal of good money management is to budget for your savings, needs, and wants. It was so encouraging to see the lights go off in their heads as they understood that proper planning and saving is the key to achieving their future financial goals. At the very least, I’m sure they all now understand that $200 spent on a fresh pair of kicks is $200 that can’t go towards other fun activities or savings. I believe that this program helps kids understand that their financial destiny is mostly in their control.

Again, being charitable is not just about giving money, it can also be giving your time. Teaching students how money REALLY works is a cause that I’m very dedicated to. I hope I’ve encourage others to volunteer for a cause that you love as well. 

Gavin Lamb is a member of HYPE's Community Involvement Committee and works for Travelers. Interested in other ways to get involved? Check out the Community Involvement Opportunities page on the HYPE website!


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