Junior Achievement recognizes lead donors for Grand Rapids center

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Junior Achievement of the Michigan Great Lakes is recognizing three early lead donors who gave $1 million each to the capital campaign for building the Junior Achievement Free Enterprise Center for students in the region.

The youth development nonprofit that covers mid, north and West Michigan said on Wednesday that it has reached 76% of the $12.95 million project goal to fund the JA Free Enterprise Center being built at 4090 Lake Drive SE in Grand Rapids, having so far raised $9.835 million.

Junior Achievement of the Michigan Great Lakes (JAMGL) said $3 million of that came from lead gifts of $1 million each that will fund the experiential labs being built for students in the new facility: Fox Family JA BizTown, Karl & Susan Hascall JA Finance Park and Haworth JA Entrepreneurship Incubator.

“Our success to date would not have been possible without these three lead gifts to the campaign each in the amount of $1 million,” said Bill Coderre, president and CEO of JAMGL. “The Fox family, Karl and Susan Hascall, and Haworth were inspired by what we are doing to impact students from across the region and demonstrated their confidence with an early, lead gift that catapulted us in the right direction at the beginning of our campaign.”

The nonprofit broke ground on the 35,000-square-foot center in September. Construction and renovation are slated to be completed in June 2021. Storefront sponsorships and a build-out of the labs will begin in January, and the project is expected to be completed in December 2021.

Fox

With the contribution from Tom and Mickie Fox, JA BizTown became the Fox Family JA BizTown, where students will learn how the economy operates, stepping into roles as employees, citizens and consumers during the full-day experience at the center. Through the real-life simulation, students will explore their career interests, demonstrate personal responsibility and practice good citizenship.

Tom Fox, formerly a third-generation jewelry store owner in Grand Rapids who is now a philanthropist, has been a longtime supporter of Junior Achievement.

“Because Junior Achievement is so important to students across West Michigan, I wanted to show my support early for this very important facility,” Tom Fox said. “This project is critical for the organization to have a permanent home in the community, as well as share the experiences of being a productive community member with students across the region.”

Hascall

Thanks to a gift from Susan Hascall, honoring her late husband Karl, the Karl & Susan Hascall JA Finance Park is being created to deliver financial independence skills to eighth- through 12th-grade students. Their day will involve a randomly assigned career and family scenario and creation of a monthly budget based on their income and family situation. They must choose options for housing, transportation, insurance, utilities, philanthropy and more to keep their budget balanced and complete the day. Those choices involve consequences as in real life, preparing students to manage their money, find a job and achieve financial independence resulting in homeownership.

Before Karl Hascall’s death, the Hascalls donated to many organizations in the area, a tradition Susan Hascall has continued in his name.

“It is my honor to continue Karl’s vision to provide kids with opportunities for future career success, self-sufficiency and the foundation for financial judgment,” Hascall said. “My hope is that this center can provide hope, guidance and inspiration for these kids to be the best version of themselves. Junior Achievement has been a heartfelt commitment that we dedicated as an investment to leave the world better than we found it.”

Haworth

Holland-based furniture maker Haworth became a major partner in the project because of the company’s desire to spread the entrepreneurial spirit to young people from across the region. Through Haworth’s gift, the Haworth JA Entrepreneurship Incubator was born as an after-school program in which business leaders will mentor high school students. Students will develop a business plan and execute it, and they will learn financing, sales, business operations, marketing, customer service and more. Each year, students also will participate in the annual JAMGL Pitch Day Competition. The winning student company will be nominated for the national JA Company of the Year competition.

“Junior Achievement has been a valued partner to Haworth, and over the years, we continue to find alignment with their mission and our company values,” said Dick Haworth, chair emeritus. “JA’s investment in young people and the West Michigan community provides hope for the future, and we know this new home will prepare the next generation to succeed in a global economy.”

Over 20,000 students from West Michigan are expected to visit the center each year, according to a previous Business Journal report.

More information about JAMGL and the project is at westmichigan.ja.org.

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