Since 2006, the number of donors to our nonprofit programs has grown from just under 100 individuals to our lively and engaged network of over 1,200 today. Our donors make our programs possible. From providing disenfranchised communities with access to civic engagement programs to supporting scholarships that provide low-income youth with life-changing opportunities through our summer programs, every contribution to the Junior State makes a difference.
Our school year programs are often made accessible to students from all backgrounds through the efforts of their friends and peers. Though the Junior Statesmen Foundation offers scholarships to hundreds of students, our inspiring student fundraisers help by going the extra mile.
“I have so many friends who wouldn’t be able to go to a democratic convention because it’s too expensive, and I wanted them to get to experience them,” says Aastha Jha, one of our student fundraising directors. “For me JSA has really been really life-changing. I found my voice, and issues to care about.”
This year, we kickstarted our annual student crowdfunder in support of need-based scholarships for school year conventions—and in just a month and a half, our students raised $70,000 and exceeded their target for the entire year. “We’ve been reaching out to a broader range of people, friends and family. Our network has broadened a lot more and it’s been really amazing to see how much every donation has added to make an impact.” Jha, now a senior who has spent 3 years in JSA, adds, “Every donation is helping a child find a voice—bringing the next senator, or ringing in the next president. These are the future leaders of America.” It was an incredible feat that blew our development staff out of the water, and moved us deeply in how passionate and connected our students were to sharing their experience with others in their state.
Most recently this year, we entered into our first grant competition with LA2050 through a partnership with Alliance College-Ready Public Schools. Since 2013, JSA has worked with Alliance to bring our youth empowerment programs to low-income youth in the inner-city of Los Angeles, where Alliance schools have been able to graduate 94% of their students—an important achievement in areas where drop out factories are pervasive and financial insecurities are a real concern for many families. In the first couple of days of the campaign, our students and communities collected enough votes to spur us into the top ten of 78 entries.
Our students understand the value of letting every voice be heard—no democracy can function without the participation of every individual. We’re especially fortunate for our student leaders and touched by their families and communities who believe in them.