Making Learning Fun

JA Excelerate

Nearly 60 years ago, JA Canada gave Canadian students a taste of experiential learning by introducing our Company Program. It was innovative and exciting. Today, JA Canada offers 15 programs to 250,000 students across the country and continues to bring innovative and exciting learning experiences. A key part of this is through the introduction of digital content and game-based learning, as well as through the gamification of our online content. This approach was validated by a Boston Consultancy Group (BCG) study completed in February of 2015, which recommended among other things that JA “emphasize ‘blended’ learning with technology serving as the catalyst of the vision”. By incorporating this validated approach, JA is applying educational methods deeply rooted in a strong foundation of research, best practices, and modern trends.

As part of the first phase of our JA Excelerate initiative, we’ve added digital elements to three of our most popular programs including Economics for Success, Dollars with Sense, and Our Business World, with digital elements soon to be integrated into the refreshed A Business of Our Own. The program enhancements started out as digital slideshows, and have quickly evolved to videos and interactive HTML activities. The reasoning is simple: Today’s students have grown up in the digital space. Rather than asking them to go back to the pen-and-paper age, JA Canada is going to where they already are. Feedback from teachers and volunteers around these initiatives has been very positive, particularly in regards to student interest in the programs.

Great content is important, but great content doesn’t guarantee engagement. And while school has external motivators such as mandatory attendance and grades, we need to give students reasons to engage with our content for their own benefit. That’s where gamification – the concept of inserting elements of gameplay into non-game situations – helps out. For instance, granting “experience points” for engaging with content, giving rewards for accumulating points, and offering clever designations or titles are concepts from the gaming world that serve to motivate users to use platforms frequently and build a merit-based community. It is an emerging practice in education, and has shown promising results in terms of learner engagement.

These two concepts, game-based learning and gamification, will ensure that JA continues to deliver engaging and impactful programs in the future.

Andre Gallant
National Program Manager, JA Canada

Be sure to ‘LIKE’ JA Canada’s Facebook page and ‘SHARE’ this post with your friends & family!

You can also follow and interact with JA Canada’s official twitter account @JA_Canada.

Finally, check out JA Canada’s brand NEW instagram account @JA_Canada for photos from key events and daily activities!

It’s Almost Here: The 2016 Canadian Business Hall of Fame Gala Dinner & Induction Ceremony

CBHF 2016 Class of Companionsv3 Linda Hasenfratz, Gordon M. Nixon, W. Edmund Clark, Frank Hasenfratz.
Not pictured: Rick George.

To say it’s hectic at the JA Canada head office these days would be an understatement. The 38th annual Canadian Business Hall of Fame (CBHF) Gala Dinner & Induction Ceremony is on May 12th at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, and the JA Canada staff is in the midst of supporting the CBHF team as they put together the final details of what promises to be another memorable evening of celebration.

CBC’s chief correspondent, Peter Mansbridge, will host the evening dedicated to honouring Canada’s most outstanding business leaders for their lifetime accomplishments in business and dedicated community involvement.

This year, the CBHF is proud to salute the distinguished 2016 Class of Companions: W. Edmund Clark, Rick George, Frank Hasenfratz, Linda Hasenfratz and Gordon M. Nixon. We pay tribute to each Companion not only for their professional achievements, but also for the example they have set as role models committed to the success of future generations in this country.

Of course, what also makes this evening so special for us in particular is the opportunity to also salute some of JA Canada’s top Achievers! Each year, JA Canada rewards the leadership and contributions of aspiring young people through its numerous national scholarships and awards. Four winners of the Deloitte Inspiration Award and the winners of the Peter Mansbridge Positive Change Award & Youth Leadership Award will be recognized, and some will even have the opportunity to speak in front of top business executives in the country during the gala dinner! Maybe these young Achievers will one day be inducted into the Order of the Business Hall of Fame, too.

As you may be able to tell by now, this is one of the highlight events of the year for us, and we are very proud to be a part of it. It is an important event: proceeds from the gala will assist us with expanding leadership development opportunities, volunteer growth, and digital delivery of key youth business education initiatives that support our 3 pillars: financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship. We look forward to this wonderful evening with great anticipation and hope.

Visit and follow @CBHallOfFame for more information about 38th Class of Companions, gala dinner details & nominations for 2017!

Daniel Kim
Marketing Communications Assistant, JA Canada

2015 Class of Companions_webLast year’s Class of Companions of the Canadian Business Hall of Fame


Be sure to ‘LIKE’ JA Canada’s Facebook page and ‘SHARE’ this post with your friends & family!

You can also follow and interact with JA Canada’s official twitter account @JA_Canada.

Finally, check out JA Canada’s brand NEW instagram account @JA_Canada for photos from key events and daily activities!


Introducing Our New Marketing Communications Assistant

Blog photo 1

Hi everyone! My name is Daniel Kim, and I’m very excited to introduce myself as the newest member at JA Canada’s national office. In the role of marketing communications assistant, I look forward to having a hand in a variety of projects on the media and brand marketing side of the organization – this includes the development of this blog! It’s only been about a week since I started but I’ve hit the ground running! I wanted to use my first blog post to share a little bit about myself, and what inspired me to join JA Canada’s fantastic team here in Toronto.

I’ve learned so much already in the past week about JA Canada’s history, organizational structure, its various departments, and the ambitious vision it has moving forward. This is due to the very informative and friendly orientation meetings with everyone here at the office. I want to extend a huge thank you to my fellow colleagues who made me feel welcome and were so patient in answering all my questions! Good timing allowed me to also participate in last week’s JA America Regional Communications meeting and hear about the tremendous work being planned or underway with our fellow global partners. I look forward to working closer with them – and our charters in Canada – in the coming weeks.

I am incredibly moved by JA Canada’s mission statement, which is to “inspire youth and prepare them to succeed in a global economy”. I’m a strong advocate for youth education and in engaging our young leaders to equip them for our ever-changing economy. I have always tried to participate in the advocacy of causes I believe in through volunteer work and extra curricular activities within and outside my local community. Only a week in and I can already see many differences between the private vs. non-profit sector. There are wonderfully creative strategies, visions, and detailed plans in place here at JA Canada to move forward with into the future. But these can only be realized with funding from our generous supporters who believe in our work. I see the unique challenges – and opportunities! – that charities and non-profits across the country face day-to-day.

I share JA Canada’s values and core beliefs in investing in our youth to ensure that they are work ready, entrepreneurial, and financially literate. Our educational programs are based on these 3 pillars in support of our mission statement. And as a university graduate just a few years removed from school, I cannot stress the importance of these pillars and how each have affected my life in some way or form immeasurably as soon as I left the school campus and entered the workforce. Being a professional in the workplace, thinking on your feet, using imagination in your work, and managing a personal budget are important to your career – and your life – no matter where you work or what you do. Whether a student decides to pursue a career in business or not, the lessons and educational values they attain through JA Canada’s programs will help them. There is no doubt about this.

I think one of the wonderful things working in advocacy or working in a non-profit environment is that you put yourself in a situation where you work together with others to realize a clearly stated vision. There is an alignment of goals toward a worthy mission here at JA Canada. You work with a tight-knit group whose values lines up with yours and it no longer seems like work – it becomes a passion.

I am excited to contribute in the effort of JA Canada’s goal, which is to reach one million students per year by 2020. I consider myself lucky to be supporting this effort.

Daniel Kim
Marketing Communications Assistant, JA Canada


Be sure to ‘LIKE’ JA Canada’s Facebook page and ‘SHARE’ this post with your friends & family!

You can also follow and interact with JA Canada’s official twitter account @JA_Canada.

Finally, check out JA Canada’s brand NEW instagram account @JA_Canada for photos from key events and daily activities!

Transformative Learning

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting with Robert Martellacci, Founder and President, MindShare Learning and discovered incredible synergies between the work that he is doing and how JA Canada is evolving. Following our meeting and fueled by the common ground, I made the time to read the C21: Shifting Minds 3.0 position paper this weekend.

This statement jumped out at me and inspired this post :

“The transformative view is that learning is a social process, with students and teachers working in partnership with each other and with experts beyond school, supported by digital technologies. In the transformative view, collaboration, creativity, innovation, entrepreneurial know-how, and ethical citizenship infuse teaching and learning. Students and teachers co-design their work. The learning environment, which extends beyond the classroom, is purposefully designed for students to think, research, analyze, develop and improve their ideas, and demonstrate deep understanding through the work they produce.”

This “transformative view” of learning experiences is exactly what JA creates with our most significant program: JA Company Program (Over a four-month period, JA’s Company Program teaches grade 9-12 students how to organize and operate a real business. Volunteers from the local business community work with students to launch and run a small enterprise. This gives students the real-world skills and experience that they need to uncover their potential.)

Achievers say that participation in Company Program provides a transformational event that alters ambition.*

I highly recommend looking deeper into the work of C21: Canadians for 21st Century Learning and Innovation, and consider having a closer look at the practical example of JA’s Company Program in creating the outcomes described as “transformative.”

* BCG Impact Study (2011) – for more information on JA’s impact.

Stephen Lippa, Vice President Education & Digital Strategy, JA Canada


RRVS-JA Bloghorizontal

Road to Royden Richardson Virtual School

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


Team Selfie: JA Canada, JA Americas, JA Worldwide joint meeting.

JA – View to the Future

Last week, I along with the JA Canada team, JA Canada Board, JA Canada Charter Chairs and JA CEOs from across the country had the opportunity to meet with Asheesh Advani, President & CEO of JA Worldwide and Leo Martellotto, President of JA Americas. I left the meetings feeling inspired and very fortunate to work for an organization in which our global leaders are truly committed to addressing the global challenge of youth unemployment.

In order to address this challenge, JA Worldwide is actively working to ensure that the entire JA network continues to be well positioned to deliver on our mission to inspire and prepare youth to succeed in the global economy and do so as cost effectively and efficiently as possible. In a recent podcast, Asheesh talked to Kevin Daum about how he is changing the JA organization to foster innovation and his approach to leadership. A recurring theme of the podcast is that to succeed as a leader the ability to communicate and the ability to truly listen and empathize are essential.

Tina Kaichis
Vice President, Integrated Brand Marketing, JA Canada

Betty Ferguson at McDonald's on JA Day 2016 in PEI

JA Day in Prince Edward Island

Friday, February 26 was JA Day in Prince Edward Island. Thanks to everyone that came out and supported Junior Achievement of PEI at our annual JA Day at McDonald’s!  We had visits from His Honour H. Frank Lewis, Lieutenant Governor PEI ,Jennifer Evans from Newcap radio, lots of our amazing JA Volunteers, plus students Ashlyn, Will and Ava!

Special thanks to David and Mike McKenna of McDonald’s for donating $1 from various menu items sold on PEI that day to JA and to Shaugn Best and Gerard Murphy for representing our media sponsors, The New HOT 105.5 and Ocean 100.

All of the money raised on Friday will go towards providing free business education programs to students from tip to tip across PEI.

Betty Ferguson
President & CEO, JA Prince Edward Island

An Early Lesson In Financial Literacy Creates Empowered Adults

As a parent and as a teacher, I grapple daily with the question of how to seed the experience and knowledge for kids to become financially responsible adults. Instinctively, and for several years now, I have been experimenting on my kids by empowering them to make purchases, research buying decisions, invest their money in family projects, give to charity and save for things they don’t know they want today.

My firm belief is that if my kids are to become financially savvy young adults, they must have diverse and varied experience with handling money as soon as they can understand what it represents. If this education is absent, there are some clear dangers in navigating life’s money minefield.

From my vantage point as I work to shape the financial literacy programs offered by JA Canada, I see four risks for young adults if they don’t have a solid portfolio of financial experience as children.

To me, dependency is the opposite of freedom. To have a fulfilling life one must feel that one has the power to make decisions that create the life one wants to live. Living paycheque to paycheque happens when you run out of cash before paying bills, buying food, or rewarding yourself. I recall vividly how incredibly stifling this situation was emotionally and spiritually when I was a university student. The last thing any parent wants for their child is financial dependency on them well into adulthood.

Skewed Values
Today’s consumer landscape is confusing. Young people are constantly being influenced by various and sophisticated messages designed to channel their desire to buy. This unchecked consumerism contradicts any instruction a person might receive about saving or fiscal responsibility. Without intervention with the full weight of your parental influence, kids risk developing unrealistic and unhealthy expectations that they are entitled to the latest trends. Worse yet, they may learn happiness is dependent on full participation in rabid consumerism.

Constraining Debt
On a weekly basis, I hear of more reports that Canadians are carrying record levels of consumer debt. With interest rates seemingly locked down below the rate of inflation, many rational adults succumb to their desires to improve, redecorate and upgrade. Of course, there are solid financial reasons to leverage credit to create stability (i.e. mortgage) or capitalize on real opportunity (i.e. postsecondary education), but kids without money smarts will have trouble seeing the constraints and potentially paralyzing effects of unhealthy debt on their future options.

Sinking Self-Esteem
Without positive money habits, the risk of a big financial mistake in young adulthood is higher. The cascading consequences of such a circumstance can turn the confident and empowered into the shaken and demoralized. It would be hard to quantify the long term, compounding effects of a false start to adult life, but surely this something we all would like to mitigate for our kids.

Of course, it’s not all bad. The opportunities in equipping kids with money mojo far exceed the dangers of not doing so. This is the spirit of Financial Literacy Month and the motivation of the thousands of volunteers who deliver our JA Dollars with Sense program in Canada. Together we are striving to be an upstream solution to the risks I see above.

As always, I am interested in your thoughts and reactions. Why is an early financial education important to you? What perils are you preventing by equipping kids with money mojo?

Stephen Lippa,
Vice-President, Education & Digital Strategy, JA Canada

This post by Stephen Lippa originally appeared in The Huffington Post on 11/18/2015.