JA Jump Starts Entrepreneurship Conversations with Kids

NILES, Ohio – Twenty students and their parents took part in a workshop Monday where the youths explored the prospect of becoming their own bosses someday. 

Junior Achievement of the Mahoning Valley conducted the JA Start My Business Workshop for children 15 years old and younger at the Eastwood Mall. The JA program aims to inspire young people and prepare them to succeed through lessons that promote financial capability, work and career readiness, and business ownership.

Morgan Conley, program and special events coordinator, and Jill Martin, program director, led the workshop. The first one was conducted last Thursday.

During the workshops, students and their parents read through a colorful workbook tailored to Ohio students. “The whole workbook is great for anyone, especially kids ages 8 to 14,” though there were students in attendance a little younger and a little older than the age bracket, Conley said.

The workbook walks through how to create a business, as it shows children that “entrepreneurship is a thing,” she said. Financial literacy and career readiness are also covered. 

Among the students attending was one who already has a strong sense of business. Olivia Davis, a fifth-grade student at Seton Catholic School in Meadville, Pa., wore her merchandise: a hair scrunchie and a pouch she made, which she carried in her purse.

Olivia said she sews her items on a sewing machine she received for Christmas. She said her favorite thing she learned at the workshop was how to initially set up a business and find investors.

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Gallery images include the class, Jshon Bunn, 12, from Horizon Science Academy; Ellie Donofrio and her mother, Rachel; Olivia Davis, 10, talks with Jill Martin of Junior Achievement; and Morgan Conley of Junior Achievement.

Sitting across from Olivia was Liam Fenlock, 9, a third-grade student at Badger Elementary School. 

“I learned a lot” at the workshop, Laim said. He wants to get into the artistic branch of entrepreneurship, making sea turtle figurines out of sea glass. Liam has found the materials needed for his idea – sea glass at Lakeshore Park on Lake Erie. 

Also learning a lot, specifically about budgeting, was 15-year-old Jakayla Martin of Youngstown. The sophomore at East High School plans on having her own salon someday.

“I like everything about” working with people, Jakayla said. “I like talking with people and being creative.” And creative she is – each of Jakayla’s nails were painted and decorated.

Her mother, Kendra, said the budgeting portion of the workshop was an eye-opener, as it gave Jakayla an introduction to how to get startup funds.

Upon high school graduation, Jakayla said she plans on attending trade school to help her achieve her goals.

Ellie Donofrio of Canfield said she wants to start her own business someday, narrowing it down to one involving pets. During the program, the third grader sketched out an idea of one such business, producing a clothing line for animals. 

“We have goats at home, so I’m going to make something they can wear,” Ellie said as she drew a prototype.

Some of the family pets do not enjoy wearing sweaters, Ellie and her mother, Rachel, said.

Hearing about the workshop through social media, Rachel – who home-schools Ellie – said it was an opportunity for the mother-daughter duo to do something that seemed fun and informational. “I thought it’d be neat to do something together,” she said.

Having the conversation with children at a young age about exploring owning a business is important, Conley said.

“They don’t know they can grow up to be their own boss, or they don’t know what they want to do. Others know they want to be a doctor. This is something they can brainstorm on their own,” Conley said.

Conley and Martin said they heard parents taking in some of the content in the workbook and discussing how they can apply its lessons to home life.

Watching the children work through their ideas is exciting, especially ahead of the upcoming JA Start My Business Youth Market Day, which will take place April 30 at the Eastwood Mall Center Court, Conley said. Students will be able to keep money raised.

To register for the Youth Market Day, contact Conley at 330 539 5268 or [email protected].

For more information on Junior Achievement of the Mahoning Valley, along with other upcoming events, visit mahoningvalley.ja.org.

Pictured at top: Twenty children and their parents attended the Junior Achievement Start My Business Workshop Monday afternoon at the Eastwood Mall.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.