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Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida to hold virtual gala

By Staff | Apr 23, 2020

The community is invited to tee up their smart phones and computers for a virtual party to benefit Junior Achievement programs tonight.

The annual event to be held April 24 at Breaking Par at Grandezza, a gala and golf tournament, has been split into two events this year. The golf tournament has been rescheduled for November and the Breaking Par Virtual Gala, “Now More Than Ever” will kick off on www.YouTube.com with a pre-show happy hour at 6:30 p.m., followed by a live gala event at 7 p.m. tonight.

The concept “Now More Than Ever” touches upon entrepreneurial thinking, which is what students need to be thinking about during times of change.

“Everyone is missing getting together and gathering,” Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida President and CEO Angela Fisher said. “It’s an opportunity to join us from home. We are trying to make it as fun as possible to offer folks some kind of excitement to our new norm being shut in.”

The event will be hosted by NBC-2 anchor Rachel Pierce and auctioneer Scott Robertson, who will both be located remotely, but will appear live and together.

“Our auctioneer will be in a recording studio and Rachel will be remotely from her home,” Angela said. “It’s going to be a really cool concept and really exciting. If nothing else, it’s offering us, who normally get together at this time, as a way to get together remotely and have some social gathering in a different way.”

The pre-show happy hour will allow people the opportunity to see how the live gala will take place, how to register for the silent and live component, as well as show pictures of different attendees at the event, photographs of students and volunteers, as well as phone numbers to call if having trouble.

The live virtual gala will include a live auction, starting at 7 p.m. The auction includes golf outings, fine dining and a week-long stay at such places as the Keys with a Jaguar lease.

Participants are encouraged to register in advance by visiting www.JA2020.givesmart.com to begin bidding by phone.

“Today is uncertain, but tomorrow represents hope and promise,” said Scott Fischer, Board Chair, Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida, in a prepared statement. “While we will miss gathering together, the new virtual event gives everyone who supports education and financial literacy the opportunity to join us. We encourage you to share the event on social media and invite your colleagues, friends and family to participate as JA is critical to Southwest Florida’s education and economy, now, more than ever.”

The virtual event will help raise funds for programs Junior Achievement normally does, , Angela said.

Junior Achievement has shifted to online resources providing children with the opportunity to stay focused. Angela said they made sure to reach out to district offices in Lee, Charlotte and Collier counties, as well as reaching out to teachers that have the programs in their classrooms, as well as those who do not, to ensure they had online teaching material.

“The beauty of our program is we meet the state requirement, the sunshine requirements for education. The good thing about all of these is students can do them on their own, or with a parent or adult,” she said, adding that they made the resources available to anybody and everybody. “We went as quickly as possible with as many virtual programs that we could offer to area students, families, the district and employees.”

The online list of program resources includes elementary, middle and high school programs, which includes videos and printable items.

The mission of Junior Achievement has been to “empower young people to own their economic success, plan for their futures and make smart academic and economic choices.”

Angela said the programs they normally do in the classroom were made available, as well as some additional programs.

For example, material designed for fourth and fifth grade students helps them understand the dynamics of credit cards, the wants verse needs. Angela said it’s all about teaching financial responsibility because the difference between want and need will follow them all the way through 12th grade and beyond.

There also is economic investigation to help high school students understand current economic issues while discussing topics of financial and career readiness.

Another example is for kindergarten through second grade students with exercises exploring “a budding engineer.” The exercise asks the child to think about a problem that he or she could fix in the neighborhood — possibly cleaning up trash, restoring a hiking trail, or planning a new playground. The child then is asked to think like an engineer and come up with a plan, or redesign to invent a “simple machine” to solve the problem.

More grade level resources can be found at www.juniorachievement.org/web/ja-usa/program-resources.

There are also supplemental worksheets and activities available, which can be found at sites.google.com/ja.org/ja-k5-vol-videos/.

She said they are working on going 100 percent online.

“We wanted to step up and be available in any supportive way that we can. We are working on virtual video with local business leaders and entrepreneurs for middle and high school,” Angela said.

They currently do this in the classroom, where students hear about an individual’s business and career and how they got to where they are now.

Now the speaker series will be virtual, all while talking about diversity and adversity.

“We are working on that video series now and getting those together,” Angela said.

For more information visit www.JASWFL.org