While awarding scholarships to college-bound students is a way people have become familiar with the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, it is only one of many ways the foundation supports education in our community.
Through the Fund for the Region, the Community Foundation has supported a number of organizations working to provide educational opportunities to our youth. These projects include STEM initiatives, educational camps and field trips, guest lectures, school supplies, and more.
Recently, the foundation awarded a grant to Junior Achievement of Western New York; an organization that provides financial literacy education for students from kindergarten to 12th grade. With more than 100 schools throughout Western New York participating, Falconer, Jamestown, Brocton and Dunkirk are the only schools located in Chautauqua County.
Mike Metzger oversees students’ budgets as part of a lesson with the Junior Achievement Program.
Cathy Moots, home and careers teacher at Falconer, has been using local volunteers to discuss career options and financial planning to her students for nearly 10 years. While the topics vary based on grade level, Moots believes the most important aspect of the program is linking the school to the local workforce.
"(This program) brings volunteers from local businesses and agencies into the classroom to reinforce what we are trying to teach," Moots said.
One of those volunteers is Mike Metzger, president at Blackstone Business Enterprises Inc. In one of his last lessons for the year, Metzger oversaw one of Moots' eighth grade classes as they were assigned careers and advised how to build a budget based on their income.
While the jobs varied from forest ranger to accountant, each student had a monthly income that had to be divided between rent, entertainment, transportation and utilities. Each category had options that ranged from budget-friendly to extravagant. "It's funny at this age you see where their interests are," Metzger said.
Although those interests may change over time, through Junior Achievement, students are learning that they have control over their future. For more than 20 years, Metzger has used his financial background to encourage students to keep learning by offering them choices and different opportunities.
As the Community Foundation celebrates 35 years of Caring and Giving, one of our priority areas remains providing quality education for students of all ages. Whether these students grow up to attend a four-year university, trade school or join the military. It is up to all of us to make sure they have access to these opportunities.