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Richard King Mellon Foundation Awards Junior Achievement of Western PA $250K to Support Workforce Readiness Programs in Underserved Communities

Pittsburgh, PA – August 23, 2022 – Today, Junior Achievement announced they received a $250,000 grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation to facilitate career-pathway programming that spans from kindergarten to twelfth grade to 5,000 low-income students within Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties through 2023.

The grant will enable Junior Achievement to expand its reach across the two counties through work and career readiness programs. These programs include traditional delivery models taught in-person, virtually, hybrid or self-led, and feature experiential learning opportunities such as the JA Inspire Virtual Career Fair and JA BizTown.

“As labor shortages and skills gaps intensify, this grant couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Patrice Matamoros, President of Junior Achievement of Western PA. “This grant will help expand our programs to even more students in low- to moderate-income communities where there are already inequities when it comes to access to career pathways.”

The JA BizTown program helps students connect what they learn in school with the realities of the business world and everyday life. After nine hours of curriculum where students in grades 4th – 6th study the basic economic principles at play, students travel to the JA BizTown facility located in South Fayette Township. While there, students are guided by community volunteers and perform jobs at their assigned business, each housed in a different storefront.

Funds from the grant will also support the JA Inspire Virtual Career Fair. This annual event features interactive company exhibits, giving middle and high school students the chance to access valuable career information from local and national organizations. The virtual format makes it accessible for a range of geographic locations, bringing career readiness to students in rural, suburban and urban communities.

The organization is currently working on creating a workforce readiness curriculum that will impact 45,000 students across western PA and northern WV by 2025.

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