“Our partnership with Junior Achievement isn’t just great, it’s significant,” says Deb Washler, program officer with the Lincoln Financial Foundation in Fort Wayne. “We have about 100 Lincoln employees who go out and teach the Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana financial literacy programs at schools throughout Fort Wayne. Youth education is our largest grant cycle and the grant for Junior Achievement is one of the largest grants we have each year.”
Established in 1962, the Lincoln Financial Foundation is a nonprofit organization formed and supported by Lincoln Financial Group. The Foundation provides grant funds to 95 non-profit organizations in Fort Wayne.
Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana is the sixth largest J.A. chapter in the country and is considered to be one of the most successful.
“We are very fortunate to have wonderful J.A. representatives who will come to our cafeteria during the lunch hour and hand out information and talk with the employees about their organization and the benefits of volunteering for it,” says Jennifer Benson, a Director in Retirement Plan Services for Lincoln Financial, who also coordinates the J.A. volunteers through the Lincoln Foundation. “By teaming up with J.A., we have a good support system and a good pipeline.”
“The folks at J.A. actually come here to do on-site training, so our employees who want to volunteer for J.A. don’t have to leave the building to do that,” says George Hicks, an audit coordinator for Lincoln Financial who also supports the Foundation. “We always encourage our ‘seasoned’ volunteers to be a part of the training and to share their experiences with the employees who are just starting with J.A. And we set the employees up for success. We spend time talking with them to figure out what class is going to be best for them and we encourage first-time volunteers to partner with an experienced volunteer, so that eventually, they will feel comfortable teaching a class on their own.”
Hicks, Benson and Washler all affirm the tremendous benefits that both volunteers and students receive from the partnership between J.A. and the Foundation.
“J.A. is an organization that gives kids financial literacy skills that they can use in their daily lives and in the workforce,” says Washler. “The benefit to our community is that you have kids who are more knowledgeable because they started out with the program ‘J.A. in a Day’ when they were in first grade and then build on that knowledge when they visit J.A.’s BizTown. When they’re in middle school and high school they visit the Lincoln Financial Park at J.A. to add to those other layers of skills. With each layer, they’re getting more and more information.”
“J.A. has a special place in the hearts of our employees,” says Benson. “A lot of them remember J.A. from when they were in school and they can relate to the importance of the skills they’re teaching kids. Financial literacy education is so important.”
In recent years, the Foundation has “adopted” three Fort Wayne Community schools: Lindley Elementary School, Kekionga Middle School and Jeff H. Towles Intermediate School.
At Lindley Elementary, half of the daily classes are taught in Spanish. Some of the J.A. volunteers at Lincoln Financial’s bilingual contact center are able to teach the J.A. lessons in Spanish.
“Just knowing that volunteers here at Lincoln Financial care and that the company cares enough to give us this opportunity, makes all the difference.” says Hicks.
Address: 150 N. Radnor Chester Road Radnor, Pennsylvania 19085
Phone: (877) 275-5462
Years in Business: 112
Products & Services: The Lincoln Financial Foundation, established in 1962, is a nonprofit organization formed and supported by Lincoln Financial Group. Under Foundation guidelines, grants are made in the areas of arts, education, human services and economic/workforce development. The Foundation awarded more than $2.5 million to support nonprofits in Fort Wayne in 2016.