INDIANAPOLIS — Students in 158 Warren Township classrooms are benefiting from a new partnership between Finish Line and Junior Achievement of Central Indiana.
"I love to volunteer so once I saw the email come across I tried to make sure I was one of the first people to sign up," Sirrea Whittaker said.
Whittaker is a former Warren Township student and is currently a customer care trainer for JD Finish Line. The company's headquarters is located on the city's northeast side at 33rd and Mitthoefer Road.
Through the Finish Line Youth Foundation, employees have a chance to give back to the community they work in.
At the end of 2020, Finish Line employees raised a total of $40,000. The amount was then matched by the Finish Line Youth Foundation which puts a big focus on giving back to east side organizations.
"We developed a committee of employees that were from the far east side and we started talking about where we could make the biggest impact. One of our employees had been a part of Junior Achievement BizTown 20 years ago. She had talked about how much it impacted her life even as an adult," JD Sports and Finish Line Youth Foundation President Marty Posch said.
Junior Achievement of Central Indiana connects with companies like Finish Line allowing professionals to connect directly with local students. Their programming focuses on career exploration, life skills, and financial literacy.
The new partnership is now bringing Junior Achievement of Central Indiana's programming into four Warren Township Schools including Creston Middle School, Harrison Hill Elementary School, Hawthorne Elementary School and Stonybrook Middle School. It's impacting as many as 3,300 students.
"It's really more important today than ever before that we have these connections with students that give them hope," Junior Achievement of Central Indiana CEO Jennifer Burk said.
Due to the pandemic, Finish Line employees taped videos for virtual programming in the classroom. They also took part in a virtual career day.
"The person that was on Zoom she talked about graduating and she talked about how she had bad grades then she got help from an adult and then she started having good grades," third grader Jamie Butler said. "I learned that I should pay attention to the questions and work hard on it and try to pick the best answer."
Hawthorne Elementary School Principal, Gregory Butler is Jamie's father, who hopes his daughter and every student learn a important lesson from talking with professionals from Finish Line.
"It's really about showing them that no matter what their love and passion is there is space for you and you can be successful," Gregory Butler said.
Whittaker hopes her experiences inspire students to imagine where their futures might take them.
"I hope that and I'm part of some knowledge and down the line someone will be happy to say, you know I met you in the third grade and I really was inspired by you," Whittaker said.
The partnership between the Finish Line Youth Foundation and Junior Achievement of Central Indiana will continue to impact students in Warren Township through 2021.