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Blog #9: Guest Blogger - John Kane

I’d like to first say that my thoughts are with those affected by the COVID 19 virus and hope that the JANJ team, Board members, students, friends and families are well and safe.

Around this time last year, many of us were together at the NJ Business Hall of Fame. With shelter-in-place guidelines and the need to practice social distancing, the 2020 event that would have been held tonight, April 23, has been rescheduled to June 9…and it is quite possible that the decision to reschedule again may be made for us as we continue through these uncertain times. While we can’t predict the future, we hope this event will go on as planned. We sure need it to, because this is JANJ’s largest annual fundraiser. With a $500,000 net as part of JA’s $2.8M budget, it is critical to ending JA’s fiscal year on budget. A good portion of the NJ revenues come from sponsorships. Many companies like Allstate New Jersey had already purchased sponsorships before the event was rescheduled. I believe other companies are planning to become sponsors but understandably they haven’t yet committed. That’s why I am writing today.

I’d like to appeal to Board member companies and others to commit to a sponsorship today or at your earliest convenience. There are several levels to choose from and all provide the opportunity for us to recognize leaders for their community mindedness and commitment to making NJ a better place to live and work. Having an event to honor these Laureates provides the perfect platform to also celebrate the JA Mission as an organization that is dedicated to inspiring and preparing NJ’s future leaders. In this time of crisis, it is our leaders who provide us with the hope to continue moving forward throughout this uncertainty, with empathy, grit and innovation. The NJ Business Hall of Fame captures this hope and inspiration from our Laureates, guests, and the JA Student Ambassadors that the NJ community needs now more than ever. This year’s event will be a Centennial Celebration bringing back our Laureates from the past 17 years. Our Laureate Legacies truly capture the leadership traits JA programs instill in our students annually. In this student-led evening program, our Laureate Legacies will be recognized for their continued commitment to New Jersey and will be joined by 100 JA Student Ambassadors and 600 guests to ensure the sustainability of JA for the next 100 years.

Corporate sponsorships for the NJ Business Hall of Fame traditionally fund JA High School Heroes leadership programs statewide. As JANJ is a free educational solution provider to schools, students, and families, all sponsorships help JA deliver and expand this high-demand program that engages High School Heroes as volunteer role models who deliver JA’s career readiness, financial empowerment and entrepreneurship curriculum to elementary school children within their local communities. Heroes are gaining critical leadership, collaboration, communication, and presentation skills, while the children too are learning from and being inspired by high school students.

With the COVID challenges we are currently facing, JANJ has pivoted quickly to support the resulting educational gaps of online/remote learning our students, educators, and schools are navigating. With districts statewide continuing to extend this period of remote learning, and our committed corporate partners and volunteers seeking virtual volunteer opportunities, JA has spent significant time and resources developing digital programs to address this new need. Within two weeks of announcing these programs, nearly 17,000 students are registered to participate, reinforcing how critical these resources are! Additionally, funds will be utilized to support JANJ’s general operating and to accelerate the build and development of a new digital learning resource – the JA Career Pathways Center platform. Accessible via any technology, this Center will enable students to explore NJ key industry clusters, companies, careers, and their pathways as a means of connecting their classroom learning to the real world, identifying how they fit into the state’s future workforce, and inspiring them to stay in NJ as a great place to live and work, inspired by high school students. 

In closing, I can’t say enough about the value of JA. Throughout its 100 year history, the organization has been making a difference in the lives of students. One of my colleagues at Allstate, Darcel Lowery, participated in JA when she was in high school. She has been with the company more than 40 years and is a valued member of our HR team recruiting employees and helping them realize their career dreams. She also has been an adjunct professor at Rutgers for many years helping students prepare for careers. She not only benefited from JA she has devoted her career to giving back to others. She shares that it was the encouragement and support she got from JA that helped shape her career success. We are grateful JA was there for Darcel and for thousands of students along the way. 

Please commit to supporting JANJ through a NJ Business Hall of Fame sponsorship

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