If anyone wonders why the Atlanta CEO Council is involved in Junior Achievement, spend a day in JA’s Chick-fil-A Foundation Discovery Center and you will quickly understand. At a recent update for sponsors, we heard about the impact the Center is having on students, companies and the volunteers involved. From the students dressing up as their idea of a CEO, complete with briefcase to the news reporter with his “Press” fedora, its been a totally immersive experience!
A few highlights from the first semester:
- 12,722 students participated in the program
- 2,477 volunteers on site
- 90 corporate events in the Center hosting 6,000 attendees
Rodney Bullard, VP of Community Affairs for Chick-fil-A and Executive Director of the Chick-fil-A Foundation talked about how the company has been transformed by their involvement in this effort. The opportunity to impact 30,000 students every year is a chance to change the course of education for these schoolchildren. The impact on the entire community is huge.
One of the Council’s recent volunteers provided this insight into the experience.
I wanted to drop you a quick note on my first experience volunteering at the StArTLe storefront in JA BizTown. I had a great time.
The training session that opened the day was helpful in getting a grasp of the technical aspects of the simulation. I had a good feel for the steps that the kids would go through during their time at the Discovery Center, and my role in helping things along. But, I realized later, that material was just a foundation.
The real experience came in engaging with the five sixth-graders in the StArTLe storefront. They were a bit shy at first, and despite their preparation, were still figuring things out for themselves. We started with brainstorming on what they could sell in the simulated marketplace. They only had the material in the store to work with. Amazingly, they came up with a couple of very good ideas right off the bat.
Once the simulation launched, they really blossomed. The young lady assigned to be the CFO couldn’t wait to get out of her chair and deliver invoices and deposit checks. The CEO was all over the floor. The other three jumped right into selling services. They bought in the concept big time.
Halfway through the allocated time, the students realized that their services weren’t generating as much revenue as they wanted. So they took it upon themselves to change things. They ended up moving a bunch of their product into the middle of BizTown and really selling. In all, they ended up behaving exactly like entrepreneurs would: generating success through a series of good ideas.
In the end, the five kids learned a great deal. Two of the kids didn’t seem to be all that happy. When I asked them why the long faces, they said that they didn’t have time to shop at the other stores because they were working so much. The CFO also said she didn’t shop, but seemed perfectly happy with that because she was so busy with the money. The CEO and the lead salesperson latched onto the fact that they had to change things mid-stream in order to make things work.
I really enjoyed interacting with the kids and seeing the lights go on. I’m hopeful that a couple of them caught the entrepreneurial bug, and may be future members of the Atlanta CEO Council.
Tim Blumentritt is an Associate Professor of Management in the Coles College of Business, KSU and a Board Member of Junior Achievement, Georgia.