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A Year of Growth – JA's 2022-2023 Fiscal Year


Photo of student raising his hand with a transparent blue cover

Image caption: JA's year in review

The 2022-2023 fiscal year was a year of growth for Junior Achievement of Western PA (JA). Despite nationwide teacher shortages, a volatile economy and lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we persisted to improve upon newly established events and programs, like 18 Under Eighteen, the Empower Her Summit and JA BizTown®, while continuing to expand our traditional classroom programming to students never reached before.  

Click here to watch our 2022-2023 recap video, and keep reading for more details on our impactful events, programs and initiatives. 

Image caption: 18 Under Eighteen class of 2023

Supporting Future Leaders 

We hosted our second annual 18 Under Eighteen event, an initiative that highlights the best and brightest young people in our region. The class of 2023 featured advocates, entrepreneurs, musicians, engineers, and changemakers ranging from 10-years-old to 18-years-old and hailing from a diverse cross section of our region. 

In addition to celebrating the honorees with a recognition ceremony at Acrisure Stadium, we also provided them with numerous professional development opportunities. The honorees received professional development training through the Intern to VP Professional Branding and Leadership Development Training Program taught by Moments of Focus LLC, spoke at JA events, obtained professional and corporate connections to further their missions, and gained a network of supporters from our region.  

“18 Under Eighteen shows us that what we’re doing really matters and is meaningful to our community and our futures,” said 2023 honoree TyLynn Gault. “I almost gave up on my business, but then I was given this award, and I realized my work actually means something outside of myself.” 

Nominations for the class of 2024 will open on September 5. In the meantime, click here to read about our 2023 honoree class and follow us on social media to keep up with their inspiring ventures.  

Image caption: Students posing at the Empower Her Summit

The Future Is Female 

On March 10, 2023, over 100 high school girls came together to claim their passion, power and potential at our second annual Empower Her Summit presented by PPG.  

The daylong event empowered and inspired the next generation of female leaders by forging connections with women role models and teaching participants invaluable skills to set them up for success as they enter the workforce. Participants learned about internet safety from keynote speaker Alicia Kozak, gained invaluable life skills from various local companies and heard from prominent businesswomen on keys to success.  

The 2023 Summit was a display of solidarity and empowerment across varying generations of women. The event facilitated connections between high school girls and influential role models to show that when women work together, the possibilities for success, innovation and equality are limitless. 

Planning for the 2024 Summit is currently underway. Stay tuned for more information on the upcoming event. 

Image caption: JA BizTown® mayor posing by voting booth

JA BizTown® Prepares Students for the Real World 

Students pledged their citizenship to JA BizTown® for the third year in a row. A revolutionary education experience, JA BizTown® challenges the traditional classroom method and thrusts participants into a real-world simulation that teaches them what it’s like to be an adult and emphasizes the importance of citizenship, financial literacy, work readiness, and community.  

Throughout the school year, we welcomed nearly 4,000 students from over 20 school districts and hundreds of volunteers, including Pennsylvania Auditor General Timothy DeFoor and Pennsylvania State Senator Devlin Robinson.  

JA BizTown® was also the site of many important meetings like the Southwestern Pennsylvania Skills Gap Forum, where local business leaders and regional school district superintendents met to focus on solving the gap in skilled trades workers. In early June 2023, JA BizTown® also served as the site for JA’s annual meeting. 

Image caption: Dr. Emile Levine (middle) posing with former JA Senior Director of Education Amy Sidwell (left) and JA President Patrice Matamoros (right)

Uplifting Our Region 

In addition to supporting students, JA is also committed to uplifting educators and entrepreneurs who make our region a better place. In fall 2022, we hosted our inaugural My Favorite Teacher contest to reward educators who are consistently working hard in the face of adversity to make a positive impact on their students. Dr. Emily Levine, Gateway School District, was named JA’s Teacher of the Year and took home a grand prize of two round trip Delta Airlines tickets for a well-deserved vacation.  

JA also supports and recognizes local entrepreneurs whose business ventures and personal missions impact our region. In November 2022, we honored Kathryn Easterling and Kelly Karns for their contributions to the Erie region at our annual Celebrating Success event. Similarly, we also hosted our 31st Greater Johnstown Annual Business Hall of Fame where we honored Johnstown entrepreneurs Janice and Joseph Martella Sr., Christine Cox, Samuel Catanese, and Kim Craig 

Image caption: Golden Achievement Honoree Mel Washington posing with JA Chair of the Board of Directors Kathryn Klabber

Play for JA 

We hosted many fun, lighthearted activities to introduce the western Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia communities to JA and our mission, promote volunteerism and empower students toward brighter futures. Between cornhole, bowling and golf outings, we organized many successful events to increase our visibility and support students in our region.  

Most notably, we hosted the 31st annual Golf Invitational at Laurel Valley Golf Club presented by TriState Capital Bank and NRG Energy, where we honored longtime board member and JA supporter Melvin “Mel” Washington with the 50th Golden Achievement Award. Mel was selected for his dedication to JA, his impressive banking career and his commitment to educating the next generation of leaders and readying them for financial and career success. Click here to read more about Mel’s award and accomplishments. 

Looking Forward to 2023-2024 

As we approach the 2023-2024 school year, we're committed more than ever to connecting students with memorable learning opportunities and supporting educators throughout the region.  

Over the summer, we'll be diligently working to improve and expand upon programs like 18 Under Eighteen, JA BizTown®, the Empower Her Summit, and many others while continuing to bring new, innovative experiences to the classroom. 

Thanks for the support this past year – we can't wait to see the impact and memories we make going forward! 

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