MetLife Foundation '11

represented by:
April Hawkins, director - Civic Affairs Program

Award Profile

Courageous Thinking and Action
In 2007, MetLife Foundation made a three-year leadership contribution to the Junior Achievement worldwide office for the development and implementation of JA Exploring Economics. This program takes a complex subject and makes it accessible and fun for high school-level students. Through hands-on activities delivered by volunteers, students
learn how an economy works, including micro, macro, personal and international economics. The program was piloted by 12 JA operations, including Junior Achievement of Rhode Island (JARI). In addition, JA operations in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Hong Kong, Korea, Azerbaijan and Macedonia received funding to translate and culturally adapt the new program, which is offered worldwide.

Vision and Innovation
MetLife Foundation partnered with JA in 2001 on a new program to move innovation to the forefront of the organization. The annual MetLife Foundation Entrepreneurial Awards recognize JA areas worldwide for innovative projects that support JA’s mission and that can be successfully implemented and replicated organization-wide. In 2001, MetLife Foundation presented the first Entrepreneurial Awards, giving four grants of $25,000 each. Since those first awards were given, the Foundation has continued to invest in innovation, creative thinking and entrepreneurial spirit by giving out 61 Entrepreneurial Awards to 44 JA areas in 13 countries. This year, the Foundation and JA have added a new category of awards to the program. The new MetLife Foundation Sowing the Seeds of Entrepreneurship Awards are designed to encourage and initially fund an innovative idea, "a seed," and to help make it grow.

Inspiring Leadership
MetLife’s volunteer partnership with JARI dates back many years and has continued to flourish under MetLife associate and JARI board member, Ray Davis. In addition to serving on the board and teaching in the classroom, Ray is a tireless champion for JARI at MetLife and in the community. In addition to Ray, MetLife Auto & Home Vice President Mike Convery recently joined the JARI CEO Council, and will host his first council meeting on June 21st. This year, MetLife Auto & Home was the Gold Sponsor of Achieve-A-Bowl where 60 MetLife volunteers raised over $13,000.

Community Mindedness
MetLife Foundation is committed to building a secure future for individuals and communities worldwide. This is evident in the Foundation’s focus on building livable communities, empowering older adults, and preparing young people. In 2010, MetLife Foundation awarded more than $350,000 in grants to Rhode Island nonprofits working to build a secure future for local individuals and communities including JARI, United Way, the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, Boys & Girls Clubs of Providence, the Providence After School Alliance, and the Providence Children’s Museum. MetLife also encourages associates to contribute their time and talent to improve their communities and help people in need. Rhode Island associates volunteer individually and in teams with many local organizations.

JA Mission Moment
Through years of funding and volunteering with JA, MetLife Foundation and MetLife have seen firsthand the transformative power of JA on the lives of young people. One clear example of this was the video for the MetLife Foundation-funded JA Exploring Economics program, which
included footage of the pilot program at Smithfield High School. The students were clearly mastering difficult concepts, gaining a better understanding of their role in the global economy and, equally important; they were having fun while doing it! One of students said, “It was fun, it wasn’t … boring.” MetLife Foundation knew that its funds had been well spent and that the volunteer efforts of JARI and the classroom teacher had been successful.