MGSH students win national Junior Achievement award

Maple Grove Senior High School’s Pocket Perks company won the Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest Company of the Year award. Pictured, left to right, are: Hope Jarkowski, Co-Head of Government Affairs at the Intercontinental Exchange; Sharada Srivatsui (11th grade); Samantha Byun (12th grade); Ian Lim (11th grade); and Jack Kosakowski, Junior Achievement USA President & CEO.

At the 2018 Junior Achievement National Student Leadership Summit on June 17 to 21 in Washington, D.C., student-run company Pocket Perks won the ICE NYSE Foundation Best Financial Performance Award.

The award was presented to the Junior Achievement student company that performed the best against criteria including profitability, investor expectations, employee earnings, product quality, leadership, and operational efficiency.

Junior Achievement’s National Student Leadership Summit is a contest of business skills, ingenuity, and innovation that focuses on the accomplishments of U.S. JA Company Program students, ages 15-18, during the 2017-18 academic year.

During the teens’ participation in JA Company Program, the Maple Grove High School students started and operated their company under the guidance of a volunteer from the local business community. The teens devised a product or service to fill an unmet consumer need, recruited investors, and operated and promoted their company. Their company is called Pocket Perks. Its mission is to connect customers to discounts and deals at local businesses through a membership program. This student-led company made $12,000 more than any other company competing at the national JA Company of the Year Competition, and donated $5,000 more of their proceeds than any other company.

“Junior Achievement has influenced some of the most important decisions in my life. I am extremely grateful that I had this opportunity to be supported by an organization that continually engages with youth to expose them to some amazing mentors, leaders, and experiences,” said Samantha Byun, Pocket Perks Vice President of Design. “Entrepreneurship is a challenging journey, but with the right people around you, it makes it all worthwhile.”

“Applying effective leadership and leveraging operational efficiencies are key to business success,” said Gina Blayney, Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest President & CEO. “JA students get the opportunity to apply these concepts—and other important business skills—in a real-world environment. JA’s National Student Leadership Summit highlights the importance of entrepreneurship education as a driver of U.S. economic growth and job creation.”

The student companies attending JA NSLS were assessed on their financial performance, individual team members’ personal and professional development, on a self-produced commercial about their product or service, on their team’s live presentation to a panel of business leaders, and on their company’s performance at an Entrepreneurship Expo on Capitol Hill attended by Members of Congress. 

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