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Junior Achievement of New Jersey Receives $25,000 Grant from Bayer Fund to Support Innovative STEM Initiative for Students  

January 18, 2022, Edison, NJ - Junior Achievement of New Jersey (JANJ) announced today it received a grant for $25,000.00 from Bayer Fund, a philanthropic arm of Bayer, which will be used to inspire New Jersey’s students for careers in STEM through the JA Crack the Code hands-on learning experience, comprised of a series of free virtual coding and STEM workshops. The grant will aid in propelling student interest across New Jersey in STEM careers.

“JANJ is very grateful to receive these vital funds at this time, and we appreciate Bayer Fund for investing in helping us to prepare and inspire youth for successful STEM careers. Since its inception two years ago, JA Crack the Code has been spearheaded by our alumni. Their leadership has been inspiring to witness. We are proud of the impact this program has made on the future generation.” said Catherine Milone, President of JANJ.  

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are generally grouped and known as STEM for short. Given that careers in these fields are in high demand, yet diversity remains a challenge, JANJ has a unique opportunity to integrate STEM learning and awareness into a fun, interactive learning experience through the JA Crack the Code program. 

Led this school year by JA alumni, Kayla Wong, an ITI (Information Technology and Informatics) major at Rutgers University, alongside the Student Leadership Committee comprised of local high school students with coding and technology experience, Kayla and team engage hundreds of middle and high school students through this exciting initiative. High School students serve as role models together with corporate volunteers and provide instruction and mentorship for hundreds of middle school-aged beginners and experienced coders alike. This high-impact initiative inspires a diverse talent pipeline for outstanding partners, like Bayer Fund.

High school student volunteers for Crack the Code workshops step into the role of an instructor, teaching middle school students (grades 4 - 8) basic and intermediate computer science skills. Participating middle school students attend these relevant workshops and receive mentorship from both high school and corporate mentors, all to build a robust computer science portfolio as they continue their education.  In learning about coding and immersing themselves in exercises with mentors including programming, cybersecurity, and web development, middle school students foster a greater sense of knowledge about career pathways in technology. Also, during these workshops, the high school leaders have an opportunity to practice critical soft skills, including teamwork, problem-solving, and critical thinking. The program effectively sets the stage for these aspiring leaders to build their confidence, while challenging them to perform at high standards in an empowering environment.

It is well-known that role models are critical in molding impressionable young minds of today. The JA Crack the Code program provides a virtual creative space for 8- to 15-year-old students to not only discover careers in science, technology, engineering, and math careers, but learn from older peers and professionals with similar backgrounds, that reflect who they are and who they want to become.

“The Student Leadership Committee (SLC) is a once in a lifetime experience. I went from having little knowledge of code, to learning enough to assist in teaching code to high school and middle school students. The SLC has broadened my knowledge of coding and exposed me to the process of making and teaching a subject to high schoolers and middle schoolers.” expressed a member of the Student Leadership Committee, Joe Guan.

Thanks to Bayer Fund, this grant provides life-changing opportunities for students like Joe including hands-on STEM-focused experiences to students across the state and offers equitable access to ensure every child has a chance to thrive. The interactive reimagined workshop structure of JA Crack the Code designed for middle school students, keeps these young minds engaged, motivated, and inspired for their futures by connecting them to real-world, relevant experiences and volunteer role models.

In 2020, Bayer Fund awarded more than $17 million to over 3,400 charitable and nonprofit organizations to help address essential needs in food and nutrition, STEM education and community development. Over the last five years, nonprofit organizations across the U.S. have received more than $80 million.

The next monthly JA Crack the Code workshop will be on Saturday, January 22, 2022. Student registration can be completed here

About Junior Achievement of New Jersey (JANJ):

JANJ is an award-winning, best-in-class JA operation. With its headquarters and Capstone programs located in the JA Education Center, in Raritan Center, Edison, NJ, JANJ is a free educational resource dedicated to giving all young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success and plan for their futures. JA’s learning experiences primarily focus on career readiness, financial empowerment, entrepreneurship, and life skills, and are held at the JA Education Center, in schools, on college/university campuses, in corporate facilities, and online through digital learning experiences. For more information, visit janj.org and follow JANJ on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

About Bayer Fund:

Bayer Fund, a philanthropic arm of Bayer, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the communities where Bayer customers and employees live and work by providing funding for food and nutrition, education, and community development projects. To learn more about Bayer Fund visit https://www.fund.bayer.us.

 

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