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WATERLOO — Junior Achievement of Eastern Iowa was awarded $86,000 from the John Deere Foundation. The donation will provide science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) educational programs for 2,760 Cedar Valley students.

John Deere is actively involved with Junior Achievement. Deere has 53 employees who volunteer in classrooms and two employees, Bob Fixen and Michael Schaub, who serve on Junior Achievement of Eastern Iowa’s Cedar Valley board of directors. By combining their experience with hands-on learning activities, the company helps ensure every student regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or socio-economic status will be prepared to succeed through JA’s business and STEM education programs.

“John Deere’s commitment to Junior Achievement of Eastern Iowa runs deep,” said Fixen, John Deere’s director of global strategic sourcing. “In addition to the financial support provided by the John Deere Foundation, John Deere employees throughout the Cedar Valley donate their time and talent through volunteerism to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy.”

The growth in jobs requiring STEM skills continues at a significant rate, according to the National Science Foundation. Junior Achievement’s programs promote 21st century skills, notably critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and communication while helping students appreciate the importance of acquiring technical skills in math, science, coding and composition. Junior Achievement stresses to students the importance of higher education, whether it is a four-year degree or a technical certification. The students learn about their options in STEM careers throughout Junior Achievements programs that are taught in their classroom.

Thanks to the grant, the John Deere Foundation will improve the vitality of our community, and will address the lack of STEM and business skills in students and in schools.

Junior Achievement of Eastern Iowa is dedicated to inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy through work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy educational programs. JAEI’s programs are delivered by 1,445 local volunteers that can provide students with real-world examples of how obstacles can be overcome and success achieved. JAEI provides its programs to 51,290 students throughout eastern Iowa, which includes Benton, Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Delaware, Grundy, Iowa, Johnson, Jones and Linn counties. During the 2015-16 school year, the organization expanded its reach to Butler, Cerro Gordo, Chickasaw, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Tama and Winneshiek counties through distance learning. For more information, go to www.JAEasternIowa.org.

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