Business as Unusual: Junior Achievement of South Florida

Lifestyle continues to reach out to businesspeople all over South Florida to ask three questions: How did COVID-19 and the shutdown impact your business; how did you position the business for success amid reopening; how will experiencing this unprecedented pandemic change the way you conduct business moving forward? Today, we check in with Laurie Sallarulo, President/CEO of Junior Achievement of South Florida. Editor’s note: This interview was conducted prior to Phase 1 reopening for Broward County.

Laurie Sallarulo, President/CEO, Junior Achievement of South Florida
Laurie Sallarulo, President/CEO, Junior Achievement of South Florida

Backstory: Through the nonprofit organization’s multiple programs—as well as two JA BizTowns and JA Finance Park—thousands of Broward County students learn the concepts of entrepreneurship, finance, and work-readiness.

The impact: COVID-19 has had a far-reaching impact on all sectors, in particular the nonprofit sector. The loss of revenue for nonprofits will span across every source: individuals, corporate, events, government and foundations. Junior Achievement of South Florida was impacted financially and will realize decreased revenues of about 20%. We took major cost-cutting measures, unfortunately, including eliminating staff positions. On a positive note, COVID-19 has strengthened our team’s passion and commitment to our mission: financial literacy and workforce development. The JA team has become even more cohesive, collaborative and creative!

In the interim: Leadership has worked hard over the past three years to eliminate debt, control spending and build reserves to prepare for an emergency situation or economic crisis like this. From a program perspective, JA had already begun to offer digital programming to our schools, so we were able to respond quickly with online and virtual resources for teachers and parents.

The future: We expect that this will have an impact on how the JA World simulations are conducted in the future; however, at this time it’s hard to predict. In addition, we will work on redesigning and repositioning our administrative workspaces and likely move toward a blended remote/in-person work environment.

Giving back: In addition to partnering with Broward County Public Schools, JA is partnering with private and charter schools to offer digital programming. We are also partnering with key community organizations on a campaign to bring literacy to all Broward County children and families. This campaign will include distributing activities and materials around financial literacy, reading literacy and health literacy.

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