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Junior Achievement and FirstEnergy Foundation Partner to Build Brighter Futures

Junior Achievement of North Central Ohio (NCO) and FirstEnergy Foundation are teaming up to help young people take their first steps toward their careers through JA Virtual Inspire, an online, interactive career exploration fair for students in grades 7-12.

Set to launch March 10, 2021, the program's aim is to help students, some of whom may not have the resources to do so on their own, take the first steps in deciding a career path at a crucial time in their development. Currently more than 15,000 students from 60 schools (in 11 counties, including Richland, Stark, Summit and Wayne) are registered to participate. In addition, over 60 area companies and trade organizations, including ten universities, will host virtual booths at the event.

"Whether in a 7th grade English class or a 10th grade economics class, a simple but vital question of our students resurfaces time and again: what do you want to be when you grow up?" said Lori McCleese, president of Junior Achievement of North Central Ohio. "We tell our youth to dream big and shoot for the stars, but often they don't even know what stars are there in the first place."

To prepare for JA Virtual Inspire and jumpstart career ideas, students will complete activities ahead of the event, including a career assessment, learning soft skills and developing a career plan. Videos and interactive content allow students to connect their current interests and talents to potential career paths.

"Our original goal was to have 10,000 students and 50 companies participate in this event with a vision of exposing students to the different ways they can build a successful career and life right here in our region," said McCleese. "We are thrilled that our schools and business partners see the benefit of a career exploration event. Employers need to build their future talent streams and students are craving quality educational experiences. With the strong support of FirstEnergy Foundation and local businesses, we believe we can help deliver both."

FirstEnergy Foundation's financial support of JA Virtual Inspire was part of the Foundation's "Investing with Purpose" campaign, which donated $3.4 million to organizations focused on supporting organizations that advance health and safety, workforce development, educational and social justice initiatives across FirstEnergy's service territory.

"From the beginning, our goal has been to help those who have been impacted most significantly by the COVID-19 pandemic," said Lorna Wisham, president of FirstEnergy Foundation. "Junior Achievement's mission directly aligns with our efforts to help bridge the digital divide and provide support for programs which may have otherwise been lost without in-person events. As a former member of JA, I know first-hand how important access to these programs are for student development."

For further information and details about JA Virtual Inspire, please contact Lori McCleese at 330-433-0063 ext. 106 or by email at

About Junior Achievement
Junior Achievement is the world's largest organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their future, and make smart academic and economic choices. JA programs are delivered by corporate and community volunteers, and provide relevant, hands-on experiences that give students from kindergarten through high school knowledge and skills in financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship. Today, JA reaches 4.8 million students per year in more than 100 markets across the United States, with an additional 5.6 million students served by operations in over 100 other countries worldwide. JA of North Central Ohio operates in 15 counties, impacting 18,095 students in 2019-20 (numbers affected by COVID-19 pandemic). Discover the JA promise for today's students and opportunities to get involved at

About the FirstEnergy Foundation
The FirstEnergy Foundation is funded solely by FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) and provides support to non-profit, tax-exempt health and human services agencies; educational organizations; cultural and arts programs and institutions; and civic groups in areas served by FirstEnergy's 10 electric operating companies and in areas where the company conducts business.


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