Volunteerism is at the heart of JA’s (formerly known as Junior Achievement) success and the lifeblood of the JA experience. The recruitment, retention, and preparedness of volunteers is paramount in achieving the impact of JA programs across Canada.
Made possible through a generous gift from the Richardson family, a virtual school for volunteers was imagined to maximize reach and provide the necessary baseline training and development of JA volunteers. I was hired that year to create, envision, and launch the Royden Richardson Volunteer School and the journey from that time until now has been incredibly insightful and gratifying. The platform, dedicated to empowering JA volunteers by enabling them to prepare for their volunteer experience anytime, anywhere, is a core part of JA Canada’s ambitious Digital Strategy, JA Excelerate. The goal is for every volunteer to be successful in a dynamic digital environment that provides convenient remote access on demand to all. In this way, JA can grow its volunteer base while continuing to ensure they are successful today and in the years to come. What’s more, the use of technology provides options to increase the relevance and depth of the volunteer experience provided and to raise their quality and preparedness, and to be responsive in supporting their needs.
As part of JA Canada’s ongoing commitment to be as open as possible in all communications the project began by listening carefully and hosting numerous discussions with key stakeholders including Charters from across the country, volunteers, students and alumni. After these initial discussions and discovery sessions, I worked very closely with our platform development and design partners, Spongelab and Avi Studio to incorporate best practices from across the country in the areas of recruitment, training and engagement. We also introduced new community and micro-volunteering features to further enhance the experience for our volunteer community.
The end result, a site that is robust and comprehensive, as well as easy to maintain, navigate, and orient. To support the diversity of needs and circumstances of our volunteers, the site supports several media types to accommodate various learning styles. We are extremely proud to present an aesthetically pleasing platform that conveys an impression of modernity, engenders excitement to volunteers, and represents educational excellence.
It is with great excitement, JA is using National Volunteer Week to unveil a new and dynamic approach to engaging a dedicated volunteer community. I encourage anyone who wants to learn more about JA and the impact we have on the youth community to create an account and learn what we are doing to create for awareness, engagement and community amongst our volunteers and the greater JA community.
Safia Dakri, JA Canada, Director, Royden Richardson Virtual School for Volunteers