National Volunteer Month – Bob Conigliaro

Bob Conigliaro
VP Community Relations
Caspers Company McDonald’s Restaurants


How many years have you been volunteering for JA?

I have been involved with Junior Achievement since the inception of Enterprise Village at the Gus Stavros Center in Pinellas County in 1988.

In what capacity?

I’ve been a classroom volunteer, board member, corporate liaison, school liaison coordinator. I’ve been involved in many capacities as a classroom volunteer, guest speaker, event emcee, corporate liaison and parent volunteer when my kids were 5th graders 21 to 25 years ago. One of our owners, Allison Casper Adams is a board member.

How did you first become involved with Junior Achievement?

When the McDonald’s operators of Pinellas County agreed to sponsor a storefront at Enterprise Village, we were all-in.

Why do you volunteer for Junior Achievement?

Junior Achievement is golden. They introduce and educate students about the importance and significance of the free enterprise system that is backbone of the greatest country and economic system in the world.

What programs?

The Hillsborough County McDonald’s Operators support JA BizTown for 5th graders and Caspers Company solely sponsored and financed Finance Park for 8th graders. McDonald’s is the food provider for the students at all four venues. Every year we send a team to volunteer for a day at JA BizTown.

Why do you think it’s important to teach children about work readiness, financial literacy and entrepreneurship?

Work readiness, financial literacy and entrepreneurship are the ingredients in the special sauce that has produced the leaders upon whose shoulders this great country has been built. First, being employed is not a guarantee. However, being work ready with a good foundational education is critical. Financial illiteracy leads to a life of debt-filled slavery. Teaching kids financial literacy early equips them with the knowledge to avoid the pitfalls. Since 99 percent of America’s 28.7 million firms are small businesses launched by the unleashed entrepreneurial spirit of confident risk takers, I believe this is testimony enough to prove that teaching entrepreneurship is not only a good idea, it should be a priority.

What benefits do you see for the students having a JA Volunteer come into their classroom – How do you know you are making an impact on the students?

Having real life working examples of the real world in front of students in the classroom gives credibility to the curriculum, the teachers, and parents who may be saying some of the same things, but aren’t being heard. When the real deal guy or gal says “This is the way it is and this is what we expect” it is validating, believable and credible to the student.

Any fun JA volunteer stories that you have to share about volunteering for Junior Achievement?

I was at our sponsored table at a Junior Achievement donor appreciation breakfast. The room was filled with executives of companies and the most prestigious leaders in Tampa Bay, all of whom support and believe in JA’s mission. When it was over, a tall attractive women came walking toward me and asked if I was Bob Conigliaro. I responded yes, and inquired (guessing) “Didn’t we work together?” She said, “As a matter of fact we did!” She continued, “When I was 16, I applied at the Carrollwood McDonald’s for my first job, I was scared to death, and YOU hired me! I’ll never forget my first day when YOU, the big guy general manager took me, a scared and nervous kid into the lobby and into the restroom to teach me how to properly clean the toilets and urinals- YOU, the big guy!” Frankly, I didn’t specifically remember that incident as I did that with a lot of employees because clean restrooms was one of my prioritized pet peeves. She continued, “Today, in my law firm, I still tell that story to my board and principles to remind them how to treat new attorneys when they come into our firm.” Wow, I did that!??? Net, net, that kid, her real world experience, and a good education sprinkled with a large dose of Junior Achievement allowed me the honor to have my life validated.

What are the rewards of volunteering for Junior Achievement – Your favorite part?

My favorite part is when I get to speak to the students either in the classroom or at a planned event. I so enjoy sharing with them my life experiences and expertise to hopefully give them an advantage and knowledge they can use in the not-too-distant future. Like teaching and parenting, the rewards of planting seeds of knowledge come much later if at all. For me, I have been fortunate to have good deeds return to me unexpectedly. A gifted JA student, chosen to speak in front of 600 guests at a luncheon, gave thanks to me personally and quoted a phrase I shared that made an impact them. Wow, what an honor.

What kind of rewards do you see for your company by allowing their employees to volunteer for Junior Achievement?

What do your employees say about volunteering for Junior Achievement? Volunteering for JA leaves employees with that feel-good satisfaction of making a difference in the life of a kid. It is also a great company team building vehicle.

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Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay’s response to the COVID-19 virus

Following  The State Department of Education, and local school districts, Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay will continue to postpone physical programming until schools return. Our virtual learning resources still remain accessible for students, parents, volunteers and teachers.

Here are the actions JA Tampa Bay is taking immediately:

The Bill Poe Family Junior Achievement Campus, the home of our two capstone facilities; JA BizTown and JA Finance Park will be closed. Schools and volunteers will be notified and dates rescheduled.

All in-person and volunteer-driven Junior Achievement programming in schools or in after-school settings will be postponed, or delivered virtually.

JA ACE at Embarc Collective will be closed until further notice. Schools, volunteers, and speakers, to be notified or rescheduling.

If you are a volunteer, educator, parent, or business partner who has an event, meeting, or commitment to JA Tampa Bay, feel free to reach out and we will address your concerns with direct communication from our team.

We are still determined to prepare our future generations to own their economic success through our programs and will continue to develop innovative ways in which we can best serve our community. Your continued support of our students is greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

Please continue to monitor our website and social media for updates concerning Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay activities.

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Junior Achievement Hall of Fame 2020 postponed until further notice

Junior Achievement Hall of Fame 2020 postponed until further notice

In light of President Trump’s address to the nation this evening, and protocol and advice from the CDC and health officials, we regret to inform you that Junior Achievement Hall of Fame 2020, due to take place on Thursday, 12th March 2020, is postponed until further notice.

We fully appreciate your support of Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay, and do not take the decision to postpone the event lightly. However, due to the current Coronavirus/COVID-19 situation we have taken the difficult decision to postpone the event for the safety of our attendees.

Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay prioritizes the health, safety and wellbeing of all of our staff, volunteers, partners, stakeholders and friends. CDC and World Health Organization recommendations are to enact protocol of avoiding mass gatherings and public events. Therefore, we want to ensure that precautionary measures are taken to prevent any additional spread of COVID-19, and we do not wish to pose any unnecessary risk to your wellbeing.

Our Hall of Fame means a lot to us as an organization, therefore, we will be working diligently with our event organizers to reschedule the celebratory occasion for a later date. This will be communicated to you as we understand more information regarding health and safety measures for the current situation.

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JA Tampa Bay Health and Safety Update

Last updated: 3-10-2020

Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay’s primary focus is keeping our students and volunteers safe, healthy and able to enjoy their visit to our campus. To do so, we are working closely with Hillsborough and Pinellas County Schools to prevent the spread of COVID-19. With both school districts consistently monitoring the situation, we are continually in communication with the necessary authorities to ensure our students, volunteers, and staff are safe and healthy.

Any students, staff, teachers or volunteers feeling sick or unwell, should not visit our campus and should remain at home. We have been in consistent communication with our volunteers and partners to assure them that our campus is following the strictest of health and safety guidelines.

Currently, the risk to the Tampa Bay area remains low for the general public, yet Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay are proactively maintaining our high standards of sanitation, disinfection and cleaning. We are currently employing the following best practices:
• Campus facilities, electronics and technology, chairs, door knobs/handles, and any touchable areas are being disinfected daily.
• We are ensuring soap, paper towels and hand sanitizers are available in all facilities, including hand sanitization stations at all major points of entry on campus.
• Staff have been instructed that if they feel unwell, they should remain at home.
• Staff, students and volunteers are all instructed to frequently wash hands to prevent the spread of germs.
• We continue to emphasize good hygiene practices with flyers posted on campus.

We would like to thank all of our volunteers, corporate partners, and friends of Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay for their continued faith in our mission of empowering students to achieve their dreams.

We ask parents, families, employees, volunteers and companies to stay up-to-date on information, employ disease-prevention strategies, and trust only reliable sources including those found below:


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JA | ACE welcomes first class to the Academy for Collaborative Entrepreneurship at Embarc Collective

JA Tampa Bay holds inaugural class for their new entrepreneurship program in downtown Tampa

2020 will be a year of firsts and landmarks for Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay, as the organization driven to see young students succeed in the workplace continues to evolve. One such first is the inaugural class at JA ACE (Academy for Collaborative Entrepreneurship) at Embarc Collective – the new tech startup innovation hub located in downtown Tampa.

JA ACE welcomed Jefferson High School ROTC students, who became the first to experience the next advancement in Junior Achievement programming. Prior to their visit, students are given one-class period to familiarize themselves with JA ACE and Embarc Collective, create teams, and introduce potential problems that need to be solved. Upon arriving at JA ACE and Embarc Collective, the students are given a tour of the innovation hub, assimilating to the atmosphere of a tech startup workspace. They are then introduced to the JA ACE Startup Experience program.

Anna Ryan, Director of Programs at JA Tampa Bay, is heading up the entrepreneurship program. After months of planning and preparation, she spoke of her first experience of JA ACE.

“I had great expectations for our JA ACE program, and the students came in and exceeded what was expected,” Ryan said. “The enthusiasm that they came with was outstanding, and they were able find solutions, solve problems, and innovate in a creative way.”

The flow of the day includes business problem and failure scenario solving tasks, creating a business plan, designing and producing marketing advertisements and commercials, and finally presenting their entrepreneurial idea to the rest of the group.

The students are also given an insight into what it means to be an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs, innovators, creative minds and business leaders sharing their personal success stories, allows students the opportunity to be exposed to role models and mentors in the startup industry.

“I am grateful for the experience I had today in learning about entrepreneurship,” said one student. “I believe that with a lot of hard work and dedication I am able to run my own business someday.”

JA ACE has also partnered with BlockSpaces to bring Blockchain education to high school students. The Blockchain for Teens workshop will be held on February 20, 2020.

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JA holds Job Shadow experience for students across Tampa Bay

JA Tampa Bay partnered with local companies and organizations, bringing career insights to high school students

JA Tampa Bay has teamed up with local high schools and companies to help bring job shadow experience to students. The valuable and experiential opportunity, which began in January and ends later this month, predominantly consists of students who are involved with the Academy of Finance program.

In total, there will be eight days of job shadowing at eight different companies and organizations – these include; PwC, ReliaQuest, Raymond James, AT&T, Grow Financial, The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Suncoast Credit Union, and USF Federal Credit Union. Students from Brandon, Chamberlain, Jefferson, Armwood, Leto and Steinbrenner high schools will participate in the program.

The companies had volunteer representatives who would demonstrate their job functions, run through the day-to-day activities, and present the students with a realistic example of their potential working environment.

The latest Job Shadow event was PwC’s Future Leaders of Tomorrow Conference, where approximately 100 students were given the opportunity to experience a conference style informative session. Several PwC speakers gave their knowledge and insight into topics ranging from technology to workplace behaviors and ethical responsibilities. Paul Gasca, Application Services Manager at PwC, said how guiding young students was an essential proponent of the program.

“I think that the students can benefit a lot from learning what it is like in a professional environment,” Gasca said. “School is different, they don’t get that professional aspect and teaching them through JA is very helpful for students.”

Julie Porcelli, Program Manager at Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay, stated how important the job shadow experience is for students.

“They get to be immersed in these amazing experiences at leading companies in Tampa Bay,” Porcelli said. “It is paramount that we can show the link between the classroom and career opportunities, creating excitement and a vision for these young students’ futures.”

If you would like to learn more about these opportunities, email: [email protected]

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Aspire Financial Services CEO Peter Kirtland joins JA Tampa Bay Board of Directors

Kirtland’s wealth of experience in the financial services industry bolsters JA Tampa Bay’s shared vision of financial literacy

Pete Kirtland is the latest member of Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay’s Board of Directors. The Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay Board is composed of local community leaders with a strong and balanced blend of skills and experience, providing guidance and support to Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay’s staff and volunteers as we strive to uphold our mission.
With 18 years of experience as CEO of Aspire Financial Services, LLC, Pete brings an abundance of knowledge, experience and wisdom to JA Tampa Bay. He has a proven track record of success, and was instrumental in growing a nationally leading retirement solutions company, which use innovative technology and business processes to serve their stakeholders and customers. Kirtland’s leadership allowed Aspire to grow to over $14 billion in plan assets, and over 300,000 participants.
“I am excited to join the Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay Board,” Pete Kirtland said, “Their mission aligns perfectly with what we do every day at Aspire and our parent, PCS Retirement.”
Pete joins the JA Tampa Bay Board at an exciting time. His vision and leadership, alongside other members of the Board, enhances the positive impact that JA Tampa Bay programs can have on the students of the Tampa Bay region.
“I believe that financial literacy should be a core element to everyone’s life, and educating young people is an essential component.” Kirtland said.
To find more about our Board of Directors, click here: https://juniorachievet.wpengine.com/about-us/board-of-directors/

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JA Inspire Career Expo Introduces Hundreds of Students to New Career Opportunities

JA Tampa Bay held their third JA Inspire Career Expo in an event that exposes middle school students to a variety of professions, careers and industries

Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay held their third JA Inspire Career Expo this week, introducing hundreds of young students to new career opportunities and pathways. The all-day event, held at Pinellas Technical College, is a community effort of Junior Achievement, Pinellas County Schools, local businesses, and educators to help shape students’ positive attitudes about their academic or professional futures.

Over 700 middle school students from Dunedin Highland Middle School, Tarpon Springs Middle School, Clearwater Intermediate School, and Lealman Innovation Academy attended the event, while volunteer coordinators were instrumental in the programming and management.

One student said, “I enjoyed learning about health, business, trades and other career fields from experts.”

JA Inspire Career Expo gave almost 60 companies, businesses, education institutions, and organizations the opportunity to reach out to middle school students, forming a future pipeline of potential talent. Research suggests that middle school grades are a crucial time to engage, or reengage students and put them on a path to college and career success and readiness.

“Thank you Junior Achievement for hosting the event,” said one company representative, “It’s refreshing to see young minds so eager to learn and tap into potential opportunities. I very much enjoyed the event and hope to make it out with our team next year.”

Junior Achievement and the Pinellas County School District would like to expand the event to cover all 6,000 6th grade students in Pinellas County schools over the next 3 years. If you would like to know more about the event, get involved as a volunteer, or showcase your company to the next generation of the Tampa Bay workforce; contact [email protected]

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Silicon Valley Bank and ReliaQuest Partner for #TechGivesBack Day at JA Tampa Bay

SVB Vice President A.J. Fang and ReliaQuest CFO Gregory Farrell head up a volunteer day at JA BizTown

JA Tampa Bay welcomed Silicon Valley Bank Vice President A.J. Fang and ReliaQuest Chief Financial Officer Gregory Farrell to JA BizTown this week. The two companies partnered together in a joint volunteer day, which saw 20 volunteers help 5th graders run the various storefronts at JA BizTown, provide insight into what it takes to run a bustling economy, and offer support for the next generation of Tampa Bay’s workforce.

The joint volunteer day was part of Silicon Valley Bank’s #TechGivesBack initiative, helping raise money, awareness and supporting communities across both the U.S. and several other countries.

“Nationally, our organization looks to support the local communities, whether that is with volunteer time or donations, we want to give back,” said A.J. Fang. “For me, I don’t want organizations such as Junior Achievement to miss out on opportunity, so we wanted to work with our partners ReliaQuest and support JA Tampa Bay.”

ReliaQuest, who are regular volunteers at both JA BizTown and JA Finance Park, have accrued over 1,400 contact hours with hundreds of students. Farrell noted how important the partnership with JA Tampa Bay is for the future of the Tampa Bay workforce.

“It is great to work with JA Tampa Bay from a business standpoint, but to come in and actually see the impact it is making for the kids is incredible. You can see how kids coming through programs like this will have a great advantage and helping educate them on the way is great for our team at ReliaQuest.”

If you would like to know how to get involved as a volunteer with JA Tampa Bay, visit https://juniorachievet.wpengine.com/get- involved/.

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