Morrison County Area Foundation offers its support to Junior Achievement program

The Morrison County Area Foundation offered a $1,000 grant for the Junior Achievement program in area schools. Pictured are front row (from left): Amanda Magnan, Junior Achievement board member, Leah Staab, Angie Peterson, Kristi Ackley, MCAF Board President Jon Blissenbach, Katie Riitters and Kyle Hoggarth. Back row: Ted Pfohl, Troy Olson and Chris Kircher.
The Morrison County Area Foundation offered a $1,000 grant for the Junior Achievement program in area schools. Pictured are front row (from left): Amanda Magnan, Junior Achievement board member, Leah Staab, Angie Peterson, Kristi Ackley, MCAF Board President Jon Blissenbach, Katie Riitters and Kyle Hoggarth. Back row: Ted Pfohl, Troy Olson and Chris Kircher.

With a goal of expanding the Junior Achievement program into Morrison County schools, the Morrison County Area Foundation (MCAF) has provided Junior Achievement of Morrison County with a $1,000 grant.

Following the success of a five classroom pilot in 2015, the program is expanding to 42 classrooms — a 740 percent increase — in 2016. Participating area schools include: Upsala, Swanville, Royalton, all three public elementary schools in Little Falls/Randall, Little Falls High School, Mary of Lourdes in Little Falls and Holy Trinity in Pierz.

The volunteer-driven Junior Achievement program teaches financial literacy, career readiness and entrepreneurialism. It costs approximately $250 per classroom to implement, in addition to the volunteers needed to teach. With the help of the Morrison County Area Foundation, through its volunteers and grant support, along with personal and business donations and community support, Junior Achievement of Morrison County is able to meet the 2016 needs of the 42 participating classrooms.

More than 40 volunteers will provide 142 volunteer hours to deliver the program materials. Board members contribute an additional 150 volunteer hours toward this program each year. Volunteers educate the public, teachers, administrators, community members and service clubs. They also attend meetings and invest time in matching volunteers and teachers.

The Junior Achievement program provides a greater understanding of how to make smart financial decisions at an earlier age; better, more comprehensive knowledge of how a community functions and the role that businesses play; and a realistic understanding of the benefits of post-secondary education to their lifelong earning potential.

MCAF, a Turn Key Partner Fund of the Initiative Foundation, serves as a vehicle for gathering and distributing charitable gifts to make a lasting contribution to the community. In existence since 2001, and with a refreshed and revitalized local advisory board, MCAF will be featured as a Turn Key Partner Fund success story in the June edition of IQ Magazine, a publication of the Initiative Foundation. MCAF’s advisory board works to build an endowment whose earnings can then be used to support eligible projects in Morrison County that improve the quality of life and promote community vitality.

MCAF’s 2016 grant round will open May 13 with a more refined focus than in previous years. Although applications are encouraged from eligible grantees that have a project that improves Morrison County residents’ quality of life, priority consideration will be given to programs that provide positive opportunities for community youths and programs that facilitate school and business partnerships to support next-generation workforce development.

“Supporting Junior Achievement of Morrison County fits nicely with our funding priorities,” said Jon Blissenbach, MCAF Board chair. “We want Morrison County to be one of the most desirable places to live, work and raise a family in Minnesota.”

Junior Achievement of Morrison County plans to reach 62 percent of all elementary classrooms in Morrison County in 2017, and is looking for volunteers and donors to help support its ambitious but attainable goal.

“While Junior Achievement of Morrison County is new to the area, the program has been around for 100 years and has strong presence in Brainerd and St. Cloud area schools,” said Angie Petersen, board member and secretary for Junior Achievement of Morrison County. “We want to see that become a reality here in Morrison County to benefit our children.”

A recent addition to the MCAF Board of Directors, where she serves on the marketing committee, Petersen is enthusiastic about the opportunity to strengthen the wider Morrison County area by building awareness and aligning people’s generosity to programs and initiatives that benefit those who call Morrison County their home.

“My fellow board members and I would like to see new donors take advantage of these opportunities while leaving a legacy and benefiting from the tax advantages of giving to needs within our community,” she said.

The date for the Cheers to Morrison County 2016, an MCAF fundraiser, has been set for Saturday, Sept. 17, from 2 p.m. – 6 p.m., at the Hangar at Camp Ripley. It is MCAF’s primary fundraising event.

For more information about donating, volunteering or other ways to support Junior Achievement, the Morrison County Area Foundation or Cheers to Morrison County, contact Teresa Giese, (320) 360-4726 or [email protected]; or Jon Blissenbach, (320) 237-2971 or jblissen [email protected]