Every year, the Junior Achievement of Pulaski County and the Junior Achievement of White County host their Annual Campaign with additional events in order to pay for their in-class programming for students that year. Last year the Junior Achievement of Pulaski County raised enough funds through their Annual Campaign to pay for $20,593 worth of programming in the area.
For the 2019 - 2020 school year the Junior Achievement of Pulaski County were on track to spend about the same amount of money on programming, $20,720, while White County estimated theirs to cost $18,875. The two significant fundraisers that have always helped offset these costs in the past were Pulaski County’s annual golf outing and White County’s annual Achieve-A-Bowl event, which would always bring in about $5,000 to $6,000.
However, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Junior Achievement Northern Indiana regional office along with
Junior Achievement Pulaski County Executive Director Jen Edwards and Program Manager Marci Spitznagle were tasked with adapting quickly to the ever-changing situation as well as making some tough decisions in regards to fundraising that could have a very big impact on their organization.
The first obstacle that Edwards and Spitznagle specifically had to face was how to transition traditionally in-person services to an online format. They concluded that this transition was imperative in order for them to successfully continue to fulfill their mission. They ultimately created and provided online learning activities, such as printables, online games, videos and apps to educators and students to use at their convenience.
Once they cleared this obstacle, they had to make a decision regarding their fundraisers and Annual Campaign. Normally, all services and materials provided through programming would be paid for through fundraising events, but this year that wasn’t the case. Due to the social nature of their fundraising events, both the Junior Achievement of Pulaski County and White County were forced to cancel their single biggest fundraisers of the year, causing them to miss out on a significant portion of funding.
In addition to this, the quick shift from in-person to online programming also led to some unexpected expenses - such as purchasing video and PDF editing software and providing the online services to educators to implement into their e-learning curriculum - adding more strain on their budget. Clearly, seeking outside help became essential in order for both organizations to continue to provide their services.
Luckily, organizations such as the White County United Way exist to assist organizations in tough and trying times. Funding is made possible through the Economic Relief Initiative Grant, sponsored by Indiana United Ways, partnering with Lilly Endowment, Inc. The Community Relief Fund is managed through the White County United Way in partnership with the Community Foundation of White County, the Jasper Newton Foundation, and the Community Foundation of Pulaski County. The fund allows money to be distributed to various non-profit organizations in White, Pulaski, and Jasper counties that need additional financial assistance for programming during the pandemic.
The funds received through the Community Relief Fund helped both the Junior Achievement of Pulaski County and the Junior Achievement of White County deliver digital services instead of in-class services to 628 students in Pulaski County and 485 students in White County.
Despite the many obstacles that the Junior Achievement Northern Indiana regional office, Edwards, and Spitznagle faced during the beginnings of the pandemic, they were able to quickly adapt to the situation and seek help with funding when it was needed.
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Jordan Day has been with the United Way since May 2020, and is currently working as a Social Media Consultant for WCUW.