Program offers teen girls internships and mentorship

JA Girl$ teaming up with PACE Center for new program

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - JA Girl$ has teamed up with PACE Center for Girls to offer an Executive Internship Class to 55 high school girls at PACE. This program aims to prepare girls for success in the workplace and managing their finances.

In its first year, this program began Sept. 3 and will run through December.

"We have trained seven female volunteers to lead 45-minute, once a week sessions during the school day," JA GirlS director Elizabeth Paulson says. "They'll teach Junior Achievement lessons in Career Success and Personal Finance. Fifty-five high school girls at PACE are participating in Junior Achievement lessons in Career Success and Personal Finance."

JA Girl$ was founded in 2006 as an initiative of Junior Achievement to prepare girls and young women for economic success. The program's director, Elizabeth Paulson says the goal is to increase knowledge and build skills in economic literacy, career preparation and entrepreneurship.

Paulson says JA Girl$ consists of three partners: female volunteers, agencies that serve children, and girls ranging in age from 8-18 years old. Female mentors are paired with agencies and are trained in gender specific strategies and JA's age-appropriate financial literacy classes with girls that vary in length from one-day events to one-hour a day sessions for five to seven weeks. Since its inception, JA Girl$ has served more than 13,000 girls in North Florida.

PACE (Practical, Academic, Cultural, Education) Center for Girls is a not-for-profit 501(c) 3 corporation that provides a non-residential delinquency prevention program in locations state-wide, targeting the unique needs of females 12 to 18 who are identified as dependent, truant, runaway, delinquent, or in need of academic skills.

Paulson says it's important because they want to give these girls the foundation to succeed in the workplace and their chosen careers.

"We want them to succeed personally and financially," Paulson says. "The wage gap affects women of all ages, race, and education levels regardless of their family decisions and women are increasingly the primary breadwinners in their households. It has everything to do with the opportunities in front of them and how they leverage what they've learned to their advantage."

Neve is just one of the young ladies participating in the program.

"We really learn a lot of like life skills," Neve says. "Things that you usually don't usually learn in a normal high school. Things that you can apply to a job in the real world, and it's really helpful."

Neve plans to graduate from PACE, attend FSCJ, then transfer to the University of Florida and work in Pediatric Hematology. She says the Executive Internship Class is already helping her achieve those goals.

"We do a lot of creative things and having to really improvise," Neve says. "I have a job, at Firehouse Subs after school. And I've already been able to apply a lot of the things that I've learned in there in my actual job."

Smart Women Make Change is Junior Achievement's signature event that benefits the JA Girl$ initiative. A luncheon will be held Sept. 26 from Noon-1:30 at the Florida Blue Conference Center featuring keynote speaker Christina Norman, a media executive and former CEO of the Oprah Winfrey Network. Tickets can be purchased at

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