More than 90 student-athletes representing all 18 UHart athletic programs recently joined teachers for an entire school day at Noah Webster School in Hartford and Laurel School in Bloomfield working with children in kindergarten through fifth grade.
The student-athletes taught a curriculum based on financial literacy, workforce readiness, and entrepreneurship.
“One of the unique things about the University of Hartford athletics family is our sense of community, not just within the athletic department, but on campus and in the surrounding towns,” said head women’s basketball coach Jennifer Rizzotti. “While each program manages its own list of community service projects, we’re now looking to come together and be a part of something where we could make a larger impact.
"Junior Achievement's mission fits with what we do on a daily basis," Rizzotti added. "As coaches, we work to prepare our student-athletes for the world beyond athletics. We thought it would be a good opportunity to give these young kids role models they can relate to and allow them to see who our kids are off the playing field. In addition, it gives our athletes the reciprocal opportunity to continue giving back. It’s a win-win.”
Through the commitment of volunteers, Junior Achievement (JA) helps students understand the importance of saving and planning for future financial needs, working with students from kindergarten through 12th grade. JA's unique delivery system provides the training, materials, and support necessary to enable volunteers to build student skills in financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship.
“We are thrilled to launch a new partnership with the University of Hartford’s athletic department,” said Jeremy Race, JA’s vice president of development. “It was evident in our first meeting with the University of Hartford coaches that they had a keen interest in helping prepare local students for future success. Hats off to the University for providing us with such an awesome opportunity.”
Providing children with positive adult role models who illustrate ways to build self-confidence, develop skills, and find avenues of success in our economic system is a hallmark of Junior Achievement. JA in A Day is a one-day presentation of Junior Achievement's programs and a terrific way for K-12 students to experience the valuable lessons JA programs provide in a same-day series of five engaging, hands-on lessons.
“First of all, I think it is very important students work with children in the community,” said Maggie Betz, a junior on the University of Hartford softball team. “I think this opportunity is really exciting. No matter what you major in, this program is something where you can learn yourself. It’s a two-way street; the student-athletes are going to learn just as much as the children.”
Through JA Southwest New England, based in Hartford, more than 2,500 volunteers—business professionals, parents, retirees, and college students—offered JA programs last year to 35,000 students in schools throughout Hartford, Litchfield, New Haven, Windham, Tolland, New London, and Middlesex counties.