putting our money where our heart is

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Farewells and New Beginnings

My crew at JA at the 2013 Business Laureates Hall of Fame Gala, Fairmont Hotel.

The staff of JABC  at the 2013 Business Laureates Hall of Fame Gala, Fairmont Hotel.

Today I’ll say “see you again soon” to my co-workers of 2 years at Junior Achievement of British Columbia. It can’t be goodbye yet because there are so many people here I want to see again! I’ve loved my job and this has been a great organization to work for. I hope I’m not kicking myself a lot as I leave to begin a new adventure working as the Manager of Special Events at Inspire Health.

The last couple of weeks have been a roller coaster as I’ve been thinking about my new job but preparing to leave this one. Goodbyes are hard but I’ve been lucky to have had so many great co-workers and I’m looking forward to keeping in touch.

So stay tuned friends, because you know how I’m always trying to sell you a ticket to a fundraiser or tell you where to buy your Christmas Tree? Well, how do you feel about kayaking? It’s going to be a fun summer.

Happy Pink Monday!


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Impressive Teens Pitch Environmental Business Ideas

Students formed teams with different schools to network and learn team-building skills - like building the highest tower using only spaghetti and marshmallows!!!

Students formed teams with different schools to network and learn team-building skills – like building the highest tower using only spaghetti and marshmallows!!!

It’s JA day on Pink Monday! How could it not be? I’m back home after two days of incredible events hosted by Junior Achievement of British Columbia. It took nearly every live body at our organization to pull this off!  I was the manager of registration (aka The Pentagon).

It’s our biggest annual student event – The JA Innovation Jam (formerly the BC Business Challenge).  Students from all over BC came to Vancouver to compete for the best business pitch with an environmental innovation theme. Last night we had a reception for all the out-of-town kids who were staying at the Coast Coal Harbour Hotel. Many of them had never been to Vancouver before.  Some of them from remote communities had never flown on a plane before!  What an amazing opportunity for these kids to come downtown and be part of what turned out to be two pretty amazing days.

Sam Thiara was our guest speaker at the reception and he was truly so inspirational that he was surrounded by a mob of kids after the event. Like a rock-star, they all wanted photos with Sam.

A highlight for me was a group of three teen girls who fearlessly approached me, hands extended, formally and confidently introduced themselves and told me about their school and their team and asked me what I do at JA. Networking is a big part of what we’re encouraging them to do at events like these. If you’re like me, you know it takes guts to go up to strangers at networking events and start conversations.  These girls are already pros at it.  I was so impressed!

My alarm went off at 5:00 am today as the event began for me just before 7 – getting ready for 123 students to mob my registration desk at 7:30 am.  It’s been a long day but I have that wonderful feeling you get after a well-run event – pride mixed with relief that it’s all done!!!  

During the day the students were led through workshops, a lightening round of presentations, breakout groups and filming of their pitch.  They were judged by panels of JA sponsors and a dozen members of the Top Forty Under 40. The top four teams were chosen and presented to the group.  Tomorrow morning there will be links on Youtube where everyone (even you!) can vote for the best pitch for a kind of “people’s choice” award. I love that the theme was environmental innovation and they came up with some incredible original ideas!  I’ll all a link to this post tomorrow.

So, I’m tired, I’m happy, I’m behind on my database entries back at the office.  Tomorrow will be filled with unpacking and catching up on all that was neglected in the last day or two before the event.  Like processing some of our most recent donations!  Speaking of which – if you like the idea of preparing youth for the world of work through business education and financial literacy, you might like to support Junior Achievement.

Happy Pink Monday!


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Do You Know A Classroom In Need?

Help students learn drawing and anatomy with a disarticulated skeleton

Help students learn drawing and anatomy with a disarticulated skeleton

Just before Christmas, I included information on a project in the US where a teacher needed funds to help with books for her classroom. My friend Yvonne thought it was a great idea and wondered if there were similar projects in Canada. I promised her I would find out and today I began a google search. My first attempt yielded no results and I started to think that this would be the perfect new charity to start up because everyone knows a teacher whose classroom is underfunded! I tried again, and this time I found exactly what I was looking for right away. Guess I’ll have to wait for the next great idea to start a charity of my own.

My Class Needs Foundation is a registered Canadian charity that lets teachers all across Canada submit project ideas for various needs in their classroom. This crowdfunding platform was launched in 2012 and so far only 4 provinces are involved and the majority of projects are in Surrey, BC.  Projects have to meet a list of criteria for approval and must be reported on by the teachers afterwards. If you donate to a project that doesn’t reach it’s goal, your donation is refunded in the form of a credit and you can choose a new project to fund.

Teachers submitting a project for the first time are limited to $1,000 and unfortunately, my teacher friend Catherine will be disappointed by this, you can’t ask for cash or perishable items like food.  Catherine is always fundraising for her school’s lunch program.

I saw a lot of requests for iPads which put me off a bit.  I’d rather donate towards books.  I’m not sure why I have this bias as I do 99% of my reading on a Sony E-Reader.  I’ll have to get over that perhaps.  Also, in some provinces (Ontario) you can’t fundraise for textbooks anyway (it’s against their school board fundraising policies), so why not fund some iPads? I saw projects for kids with disabilities, literacy barriers and sensory processing issues.  I learned a thing or two about what techniques are being used in the classroom to help kids learn. For example, I did not know that shape puzzles and toys used in math are called manipulatives!

My favorite pitch was by Mrs. Johnson from Frank Hurt Secondary in Surrey.  She’s raising funds to purchase a disarticulated skeleton to guide observation in anatomy drawing.

“Natural curiosity and engagement with the human body teaches a keen sense of observation and attention to detail, allowing students to wonder where these bones belong and how the body fits together,” says Mrs. Johnson in her project description.

If you know a teacher, or have kids and are familiar with the challenges teachers face meeting their classroom needs, this kind of giving might be for you.  Browse their projects and I’d love to hear if you found one worthy of your support. If you’re a teacher – I bet you have a need you could start crowdfunding for!

Good luck and Happy Pink Monday!