The future of Junior Achievement of Mississippi is bleak, and the organization could be dissolved at its Nov. 18 board meeting, President and Chief Executive Officer Scherry Gilliland said Monday.
It would take a large gift to save the organization, Gilliland said.
“A million-dollar gift would be great,” Gilliland said. She added that it would also help if the organization was able to sell its building at 1695 High St. in Jackson, a large source of the organization’s debt.
Gilliland said it is a combination of that debt and a decrease in corporate donations during the current economic downturn that have led to the organization’s trouble.
David Barrentine, chairman of the board of JA Mississippi, said the organization will consider all options to restructure at the Nov. 18 meeting.
JA Mississippi is a nonprofit affiliated with JA Worldwide, which brings volunteers from the business community to teach economics to eighth-graders and seniors. In Lee County, the organization serves about 800 students at Tupelo Middle School, Saltillo High School and Mooreville High School, Gilliland said.
“When a child is taught about the real world of business from a business person, they not only get to learn what business is all about, but they get to see what business is all about through a role model,” Gilliland said.
Len Blanton, Chairman of the Tupelo Advisory Board for JA, said the Tupelo board is in the middle of negotiating with the national office to continue purchasing materials and teaching JA on a local level.
“It looks like that is going to be an option for us,” Blanton said. “We have some very dedicated volunteers and board members who would like to see that happen because it is a great opportunity to get local business people into the classroom and to give a business perspective to the kids that they might not otherwise get.”
The news comes after J.A. of Mississippi led all national chapters in student growth during the 2008-09 school year. During that year, the organization reached 10,100 students.
Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal