In a nutshell: Participation in Junior Achievement, collecting supplies and offering internships and scholarships can make a big difference in the lives of local students.

It’s back-to-school season across the country. That means yellow school buses on the roads, long lines for notebooks, pens and highlighters at the store, and fewer children out in public during the day. It also means you’ve got an opportunity to get involved with your local schools, where you can inspire children, help them consider career paths they didn’t know about and share your experiences as a businessperson.

As a business leader, there are many ways you can help out in schools from kindergarten through 12thgrade. Here are a few:

Junior Achievement

 One of the best ways to get involved with local schools is through Junior Achievement, a well-established organization that pairs schools with business and civic leaders. Created in 1919, Junior Achievement has chapters around the world. It is probably best known for bringing speakers into schools, but its programming goes beyond that — it has initiatives related to entrepreneurship, finance, economics, money management and more.

Junior Achievement reaches nearly 5 million students a year. To get involved, visit the national organization’s website or search for your local chapter. If you live outside the United States, you can visit JA Worldwide to search for opportunities to participate.

Collect School Supplies 

You might be shocked at how much school supplies cost. NBC News says it costs this much to send a fully equipped student to school:

  • $650 for elementary school
  • $1,000 for middle school
  • $1,500 for high school

Consider taking up a collection of school supplies and delivering them to your local elementary, middle or high school to be distributed to students who need them. Items to contribute include pens, pencils, markers, notebooks, binders, folders and calculators. And you never know when an old-school protractor might come in handy!

Internships

Internships are the most immediate way to introduce high school students to the challenges — and satisfaction — of working. Consider taking on interns in the summer months — the extra hands might come in especially handy when your employees take vacation. Internships can be either paid or unpaid, and the career guidance counselors at your local high school may be able to help you publicize your openings. They might even be able to arrange for your interns to receive educational credits for participating in an internship.

The Small Business Association provides some tips for small businesses considering internship programs.

Scholarships and Awards

College isn’t cheap. If you’re an in-state student at a public four-year college, the average annual cost for tuition and fees is close to $10,000, according to the College Board. At a private school, the annual average cost skyrockets to more than $32,000. Those price tags do not include housing, food, books and supplies.

Your business can help recognize academic achievement and help defray these costs by offering awards and scholarships. You’ll have the freedom to determine who is eligible for your awards and scholarships — perhaps you’d like to recognize people who excel in a certain field that relates to your professional or personal interests. Again, the career guidance counselors at your local high school can help guide you in the right direction. Also, consult with your accountant, as awards and scholarships might help you at tax time.

How Do You Contribute?

Let’s keep the conversation going. Let us know in the comments what you do to help out local schools. You can also tweet to us at @BAIupdate.

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