Sheldon Foundation Supports Jamestown After-School Programs

“This week, we are reading Megan Buys a Present. Megan is going to a birthday party and she needs to buy a present for her friend. Has anyone ever bought a present for a friend?” asked Julie Poppleton, director of after school programming, to a group of Bush Elementary School kindergartners.

Most of the students raise their hands.

“That’s great. Once we read the book together, we will then pretend that we are going shopping for a birthday gift. I will give you money stickers to figure out how much each gift costs. But before we do that, let’s do a little remembering about money. If I hold up a picture of a coin, can you tell me how many cents it is?”

Poppleton was working with kindergarten students on the elementary school Junior Achievement program. The purpose of this lesson was to have students recognize the importance of saving money to buy something they want. Through the generosity of the Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation, kits were purchased so that after school students could participate in JA. The Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation, along with the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, has long-supported JA programs in the Falconer Central School District; now Jamestown is benefiting.

“The Sheldon Foundation has been so impressed with JA that we have encouraged its adoption in other school districts in Chautauqua County,” said Linda Swanson, executive director of the Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation Inc. “Jamestown Public Schools has piloted the adaptation of the JA program in its after-school programs at the elementary and middle school level and is incorporating some of their programming at Jamestown High School.

“While our funding is restricted to southerly Chautauqua County, we are encouraged to see that JA has also expanded to Brocton Central School and Dunkirk Senior High School. The regional JA office is located in Buffalo, where their program has widespread support throughout the greater Buffalo area. Their staff has worked diligently in the past few years to expand their offerings to Chautauqua County and they have subsidized this expansion with their own funding, along with grants from local foundations and businesses.”

The Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation has provided Jamestown elementary schools with the cost of the programming, primarily the leader resource materials and the classroom materials, which are distributed free to each child.

The JA Elementary School Program shows students the relevance of education to the workplace through a sequential business and economics curriculum. Its approach helps students understand their economic world and prepares them for academic learning and lifelong achievement. Through a variety of hands-on activities, delivered by adults from the community, students will better understand the relationship between what they learn in school and their successful participation in our economy. Each grade has different learning units, which are age-appropriate, well researched and student tested. The JA lessons are also aligned with the common core ELA and math standards.

“We have used the JA Kits throughout our after school programs for the past few years, but this was my first experience actually facilitating the series,” said Poppleton. “The teacher guides are beautifully scripted, and the lessons are engaging, contemporary and appropriate to the grade level of the intended audience. The students loved learning about ‘Ourselves,’ and were eager to share their knowledge about earning, saving, and working together with their families. JA kits are high impact/low prep resources that have proven invaluable to our after school community.”