JA getting financial support of local grocer

Cooke’s project will end Aug. 22

By RICK NORTON Associate Editor
Posted 8/14/17

Extending its longtime partnership with a Cleveland-based, hometown grocer, Junior Achievement of the Ocoee Region will be expanding its classroom programming thanks to a fundraiser that ends in …

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JA getting financial support of local grocer

Cooke’s project will end Aug. 22

Posted

Extending its longtime partnership with a Cleveland-based, hometown grocer, Junior Achievement of the Ocoee Region will be expanding its classroom programming thanks to a fundraiser that ends in eight days.

Since earlier this month, Cooke’s Food Store and Fresh n’ Low have encouraged their customers to make donations ranging from $1 to $5 to the local JA affiliate. The drive concludes Aug. 22.

Rick Platz, a veteran Junior Achievement volunteer and former chairman of the respected nonprofit’s board of directors — who is currently serving as interim president during the search for a new leader to succeed Melanie Connatser — praised the partnership with the local grocers.

“This is the fourth year that Cooke’s Food Store/Fresh n’ Low has made this commitment to Junior Achievement,” Platz said. “Like each of our partners, some of whom have been a part of the JA family for years and years, Cooke’s/Fresh n’ Low continue to be an integral part of our ability to reach out to public classrooms in the Southeast Tennessee area.”

Junior Achievement of the Ocoee Region includes five counties in its service area: Bradley, McMinn, Polk, Meigs and Monroe.

Junior Achievement is no stranger to the local community, or to the Cleveland City and Bradley County school systems. Both have opened their classrooms to JA’s volunteer instructors for years.

JA programs target three specific areas: Financial literacy, workplace readiness and entrepreneurship. Last year, unpaid volunteers reached out to 4,200 area students in grades K-12.

“Junior Achievement believes in the boundless potential of our young people and is committed to the principles of market-based economics and entrepreneurship,” Platz said. “Our organization’s work is made possible by a large contingent of partners that supply not only financial resources that allow us to continue our work, but also a generous collection of employees who willingly give of their time to provide JA programming in public classrooms.”

Platz said Cooke’s/Fresh n’ Low epitomizes the JA mindset of preparing young people for a global economy that continues to evolve.

“These types of partnerships make it possible for Junior Achievement to prepare students to enter the workforce and manage their personal finances,” Platz said. “JA programs teach young people how to make sound financial decisions, navigate different career paths, and develop the soft skills employers are looking for, all while emphasizing staying in school.”

A few of JA’s major contributors operate as the nonprofit’s “Champions for Education.” They include Cleveland State Community College, Cleveland Associated Industries, George R. Johnson Foundation/Hardee’s, Lubing Systems and WACKER Polysilicon North America.

Bethany McCoy, JA board chair, said volunteers last year reached 200 in-class programs. Volunteer instructors, who are trained to present JA curriculum, work in conjunction with professional educators in the classroom. Their work is intended to supplement, and not replace, the textbook teachings within public schools.

“None of what we accomplish could be done without the support of the community,” McCoy said in a previous interview. “All of our 180-plus instructors are volunteers. We could not get into a single classroom if it was not for our public school teachers who believe in the value of our programs.”

As it has grown, JA has increased its focus on opportunities in STEM (Science, Technology, Engeering and Math) careers, as well as new and innovative programs like Reality Check and the Company Program.

The local Junior Achievement affiliate was established in Bradley County in 1965, and was the brainchild of Skeet Rymer Jr., former head of the old Magic Chef Company. The local cooking products manufacturer was founded as Dixie Foundry in 1917. Dixie Foundry later operated under different company names, including Dixie Products, the Magic Chef Company, Maytag Cleveland Cooking Products and now Whirlpool Cleveland Division.

Whirlpool purchased the former Maytag Corporation in March 2006. In 2012, Whirlpool opened a new state-of-the-art, premium cooking products plant on Benton Pike. To this day, Whirlpool — with its manufacturing plant and a call center on 20th Street — remains the largest employer in Bradley County. Totaled, the company employs more than 2,000 in this community.

In a related development, the local JA affiliate is continuing its hunt for a new president to succeed Connatser who resigned her position recently in order to accept a post with another nonprofit, Chattanooga CARES.

Before leaving, Connatser endorsed the JA mission and said she plans to continue her relationship with the nonprofit as a volunteer classroom instructor.

Applicants for the JA of the Ocoee Region presidency position should send resume, cover letter and salary requirements to: Jackie Dant, Vice President, Junior Achievement USA, One Education Way, Colorado Springs, CO 80906.

Application deadline is Wednesday, Aug. 23, at 5 p.m.

The FAX number is 719-540-6172. The email account is csohiring@ja.org. Applicants, or those seeking additional information, should include “Ocoee Region” in the subject line of all correspondence.

JA of the Ocoee Region can be reached at 423-614-8777.

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