Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest Receives $1 million Contribution from the Otto Bremer Foundation to Cultivate Youth Entrepreneurship 

Donation to JAUM to Fund Multi-Year Initiative to Target Students in Minnesota, North Dakota and Western Wisconsin

Maplewood, Minn. – Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest (JAUM) today announced that it received $1 million from the Otto Bremer Foundation, St. Paul, to establish the Otto Bremer Entrepreneurship Fund, a multi-year initiative to promote entrepreneurship and its opportunities to students in Minnesota, North Dakota and western Wisconsin.

The Fund will support relevant programming, focused research, innovative learning strategies and partnership development.  The initiative will target students throughout the three-state region, with particular focus on vulnerable and immigrant populations.

“We are delighted to be the recipient of this donation from the Otto Bremer Foundation,” said Gina Blayney, president and CEO of JAUM. “Entrepreneurship is one of the foundational pillars of Junior Achievement along with personal finance and college and career readiness, and this initiative will allow us to expand our programming and outreach across the three-state region. It will also allow JAUM to become entrepreneurial in our own work so we can cultivate the spirit of innovation that already sits within this generation.”

Several recent studies have confirmed that high school students and immigrants are interested in starting their own business.  A 2011 U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Junior Achievement USA survey found that 64 percent of high school juniors are very or somewhat interested in starting or owning their own business.  According to a 2012 Small Business Administration report, immigrants are more than twice as likely to start a business as non-immigrants.  Data from 2010 indicates the business formation rate per month among immigrants was .62 percent, meaning that of every 100,000 non-business-owning immigrants, 620 started a business each month.  The comparable rate for non-immigrants was .28%, or 280 out of every 100,000 non-business-owning adults.

JAUM will partner with community initiatives and organizations interested in youth entrepreneurship and with their help accelerate the organization’s vision of expanding entrepreneurship education and ensuring the students learn global trade, risk-taking and the role of philanthropy to create long-term sustainable solutions.

“We’ve long been supporters of Junior Achievement and wanted to be a catalyst for helping develop entrepreneurship programming across Minnesota, North Dakota and western Wisconsin.  The legacy of our founder Otto Bremer – The Otto Bremer Foundation and Bremer Banks – is a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit.  So we believe the combination of programming and geographic focus can inspire students to pursue entrepreneurial ventures, create jobs and strengthen our region’s economy,” said Brian Lipschultz, trustee, Otto Bremer Foundation.

The objectives of JAUM’s Otto Bremer Entrepreneurship Fund are two-fold.  JAUM will adapt and expand several of its existing programs throughout the region, providing opportunities for students outside the Minneapolis-St. Paul area to explore entrepreneurship and the role it plays in strengthening the upper Midwest region.  The Fund will also serve as a catalyst to bring other organizations to the table that can promote entrepreneurship among students.

Junior Achievement programs that will be part of the initiative are:

JA Company Program – Designed for 9th-12th grade students, the 12-20 week program provides students the opportunity to start a real company.  They create a product or develop a service, market and work as a team to operate their own company as part of a school-based organization, club or after-school setting.  The program emphasizes business content while providing the opportunity to apply school skills to a real business.  This is JA’s original program.

JA Titan – Students apply their knowledge of business as they compete in a virtual environment to create and market a successful company in an interactive business simulation.  The JA Titan program enhances business, economics and math skills while demonstrating the impact business and economic decisions have on the success or failure of a company.

JA Be Entrepreneurial – Introduces students to the essential elements of a practical business plan and then challenges them to start an entrepreneurial venture while still in high school.

JA Biz Town – JA Biz Town is 10,000 sq. ft. “kid-sized” city within Junior Achievement’s headquarters that serves as a fully-interactive simulated free market laboratory where students become citizens, consumers and workers for a day.  By working in one of JA Biz Town’s enterprises, students learn what it takes to run a successful business, manage a budget, and work as a team.

New programming to be developed includes summer entrepreneurship camps in partnership with higher education that provide students in poverty and immigrant students the opportunity to cultivate their entrepreneurial interests.

Entrepreneurship is a key driver of the U.S. economy and plays an important role in job creation.  A 2013 Kauffman Foundation report found that companies less than a year old with under five employees have created about 1 million jobs every year for the last three decades and those with five to nine employees add about half a million every year.  Businesses with fewer than 50 employees created 45 percent of all jobs according, to the National Employment Report from June 2013.

About Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest

Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest has been serving students in Minnesota, western Wisconsin and North Dakota since 1949. This school year we will reach more than 152,000 students in grades K-12 with financial literacy, college and career readiness and entrepreneurship education. Our programs are implemented by more than 7,000 volunteers, mostly business professionals, who share their skills and experience to motivate and inspire students to succeed. Learn more at

About the Otto Bremer Foundation
Created in 1944, the Otto Bremer Foundation assists people in achieving full economic, civic and social participation in and for the betterment of their communities. This mission is based on the intent of founder Otto Bremer. His vision and longstanding commitment to communities during and after the Great Depression are carried forward today through the Foundation’s work in the places that are homes and neighbors to Bremer banks. The Foundation strives to help build healthy, vibrant communities — communities where basic needs are met, mutual regard is prized and opportunities for economic, civic and social participation are within everyone’s reach. The Otto Bremer Foundation owns 92 percent of Bremer Bank, and receives an equivalent share of the bank profits that are paid out as dividends. This means that a large portion of bank profit is invested back in local communities through grants and program-related investments. In 2012 the Foundation provided approximately $36 million in grants and program-related investments.