Boys & Girls Club members visit Sacred Heart University

Boys & Girls Club of the Lower Naugatuck Valley Joel E. Smilow Clubhouse (Boys & Girls Club) members participated in an 8-week program through Junior Achievement of Western CT (JAWCT). JA It’s My Business! encourages students to use critical thinking to learn entrepreneurial skills. Those skills include knowing customers’ wants and needs, launching effective marketing, and creating detailed business plans. By examining the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs, students learn that a belief in one’s self can make positive things happen in life. JA programs foster work-readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy skills, and use experiential learning to inspire students to dream big and reach their potential.

The program culminated with a visit to Sacred Heart University (SHU), where the Boys & Girls Club members were able to attend Tuvana Rua, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Management’s Intro to Business class, and observe (and score) the college students’ presentations of their own original business plans to their class. The top plans advanced to a Shark Tank-type competition at SHU, where students vied for seed money to take their ideas to market.

The Boys & Girls Club members were treated to a tour of the campus before getting a real “taste” for college life in the all-you-can-eat cafeteria. After lunch, and a quick visit to the school bookstore, the members were welcomed by SHU junior, Brian Reilly, to the student-run ice cream shop, where Brian talked to the students about the daily tasks in running the business, and some of the challenges the managers encountered – and overcame – in the past year.

“Collaborations like this one, between JAWCT, SHU, the Boys & Girls Club, and the City of Ansonia (through which the program was funded), are crucial, as they afford students an invaluable opportunity to see the possibilities for their future. In turn, students get excited and set goals for themselves, empowering them to create their future success,” Kristine Boles, Valley Program Manager, JA of Western CT. “At the end of the day, every member saw themselves attending college after graduation. What a great measure of impact!”

About Junior Achievement USA® (JA)

Established in 1919, Junior Achievement (JA) is the world’s largest organization dedicated to preparing and inspiring young people to succeed in the global economy. JA programs are delivered by corporate and community volunteers, and provide relevant, hands-on experiences that give students from kindergarten through high school knowledge and skills in financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship. Today, JA reaches more than 4.5 million students per year in 115 markets across the United States, with an additional 5.7 million students served by operations in 120 other countries worldwide. Annually, Junior Achievement of Western Connecticut works in partnership with 1,150 volunteers and provides empowering programs to 22,700 K-12 students in sixteen communities. Visit for more information.

About the Boys & Girls Club of the Lower Naugatuck Valley

The Boys & Girls Club of the Lower Naugatuck Valley has been a cornerstone of the community since opening its doors in 1926, operating back then as the Community Building Association. Serving some 2,000 youth a year, our Club provides a safe, structured and positive environment for young people after school, during holidays, and over summer vacation. We are part of a nationwide network of Boys & Girls Clubs. Located in every state, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and U.S. military installations overseas, Boys & Girls Clubs are delivering proven programs to millions of young people every day. The Boys & Girls Club Movement upholds the national interest. Today’s boys and girls will become the mainstay of America’s economy; by aiding in their positive development all of society benefits. GREAT FUTURES START HERE!


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