Junior Achievement of South Central Kentucky received a $7,300 grant from UPS for the ninth straight year.

The grant will be used to fund the organization’s programs on work-readiness, financial literacy and entrepreneurship taught to K-12 students.

“We promote higher education, be that through college, apprenticeships or on-the-job training,” said Emily Harlan, brand experience coordinator at JA for South Central Kentucky.

The local JA branch reaches 9,000 students annually. The UPS grant will provide funding to serve 500 of those students.

The programs are delivered by corporate and community volunteers. The JA staff trains the community volunteers to facilitate curriculum to the students, Harlan said.

“We welcome volunteers from all walks of life to help facilitate classes,” Harlan said. “If you have a heart for helping students succeed in the workplace, we can use your help.”

The programs provided by JA consist of various sessions based on age group, Harlan said. Elementary gets five sessions, middle school gets six sessions and high school gets seven sessions, she said. Sessions are given weekly, Harlan said.

JA requires no cost for students, teachers, volunteers or schools, Harlan said. The organization relies solely on business partnerships, grant funding, fundraising and individual donors, she said.

For the past nine years, JA of South Central Kentucky has applied for and received the UPS grant, which is used toward covering a range of classroom costs, Harlan said.

“The funds are used toward materials, volunteer training, teacher training and community outreach for volunteer and classroom opportunities,” Harlan said.

Harlan said one of five JA students go into the career field of their JA volunteer after graduation. Students, volunteers and staff at JA all see individual and group rewards from the program.

“Public schools don’t often teach work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy, and students might not get these lessons from their parents, either,” Harlan said. “This is a great way to break the cycle of poverty for many students and set them up to build a legacy of success.”

At JA, students can discover their individual skills, which helps them further their education and career success, Harlan said. Students are also prepared for financial emergencies, which has been important during the COVID-19 pandemic, Harlan said.

“In a normal year, we provide in-classroom programs,” Harlan said. “However, we pivoted as a result of COVID-19 and now provide livestream or pre-recorded lessons to students at home or in the classroom, or in a hybrid environment.”

The South Central Kentucky branch of JA serves Allen, Barren, Butler, Edmonson, Hart, Logan, Simpson, Todd and Warren counties.

JA is a global organization that serves more than 4.6 million students per year nationwide and 5.6 million students in other countries.

– To attend sessions or volunteer, visit juniorachieve ment.org.