Jennifer Burk

Jennifer Burk

There is no doubt that thousands of local families and children, especially students of color and low-income populations, face unjust barriers to a quality education during a “normal” time. Now, in a world where nothing feels normal, many of us are spending our time, understandably, worrying about getting through today and facing the uncertainties of tomorrow. Our children and teens are also facing new challenges: an unprecedented amount of time away from school, away from face-to-face interactions with teachers, counselors and other caring adults, and the struggle to adjust to “e-learning.” This is made even more difficult by the digital divide.

Although many students are adapting and achieving success in an e-learning environment, we know vulnerable populations — kids who may already be struggling — are more likely to become disengaged and fall further behind. This isn’t fair, nor should it be acceptable. We owe it to our kids and community to provide our greatest attention and resources to address these inequalities.

Junior Achievement is an organization dedicated to preparing young people to succeed. Our super power is Inspiring Tomorrows! In this difficult time, when our 200-plus school partners including the Indianapolis Public Schools district, are transitioning to e-learning, we are committed to doing our part: Supporting educators in their efforts to deliver engaging, fun, standards-based curriculum and inspiring kids to focus on the future, dream big and believe in their potential.

In our lifetime, we haven’t experienced anything like this pandemic, and it has challenged JA to consider new and equitable ways to serve children and teens, along with the educators, family members and caregivers striving to support their engagement and enthusiasm for learning in a home school environment. As a result, we have invested in making swift adjustments and additions to our curriculum and delivery models enabling us to provide JA programs, online, for free. Because ALL kids deserve to spend more time planning for and dreaming about tomorrow. And less time worrying about today.

Jennifer Burk is the president and CEO of Junior Achievement of Central Indiana. Learn more about JA’s free, online resources during the COVID-19 pandemic at www.jaindy.org or connect with her directly at jennifer@jaindy.org.

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