Inspiring the next generation of innovation in financial literacy

Raymond James hosted the first ever 3DE Innovators Showcase in partnership with Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay.

Providing high schoolers with hands-on opportunities to develop financial literacy skills has the power to set the course for goal setting, decision-making and accountability when planning ahead in life. As part of our firm’s commitment to making a positive impact in our communities, Raymond James hosted the first-ever 3DE Innovators Showcase in partnership with Junior Achievement (JA) on April 5, 2023, welcoming 11th-grade students from across the Tampa Bay area to the St. Pete home office.

A thriving partnership spanning over four decades

In 1982, then-CEO now Chair Emeritus Tom James joined the board of JA Tampa Bay – marking the beginning of Raymond James’ partnership with JA.

Raymond James leader Patrick O'Connor volunteers at Finance Park

Among his many contributions to the organization over the decades-long relationship, Tom helped to solidify a relationship between JA Tampa Bay and Pinellas County’s Gus A. Stavros Institute – another Raymond James charitable partner – to create what are now cornerstone Junior Achievement programs: JA BizTown and JA Finance Park

In 2015, Tom James received the National Gold Leadership Award, JA’s highest award for excellence in volunteerism. Since then, the partnership between Raymond James and JA has continued to flourish through other volunteerism activities and collaborative events, like the 3DE Innovators Showcase.

Fast-forward to 2023: Patrick O’ Connor, the Divisional Director of RJA PCG (pictured: left), serves as the board chair of JA of Tampa Bay and plays an active role alongside JA Tampa Bay President Richard George. Patrick’s role involves aligning the JA board’s vision with strategic initiatives to balance the ROI and financial implications of the investments and the impacts of the work being done.

Immersive, experiential learning has always been a key component of JA’s work. BizTown and Finance Park were among the first initiatives to help equip children with financial and economic judgment. The 3DE program is the next step in the evolution of that financial literacy journey, which is geared toward high schoolers.

3DE: A multidimensional approach to high school education

3DE studentsLaunched in 2015, the 3DE program addresses structural inequalities in education and improves accessibility for all students through education that delivers hands-on opportunities, connects business acumen with academic concepts and puts long-term aspirations into focus.

The program was born in Atlanta and has since expanded into other geographies – including four schools in the Tampa Bay area: St. Petersburg High School, Dunedin High School, Chamberlain High School and Hillsborough High School. Today, Tampa Bay has a reputation as one of the strongest 3DE markets.

As part of the 3DE program’s comprehensive education model, 3DE schools partner with companies like Raymond James to provide students with an opportunity to present a solution to solve a real business challenge. Participating students work on these case challenges for months before presenting their solutions to company leaders.

The 3DE program is transformational, said O’Connor: “Some of the most important skills a young person can develop and go on to possess are financial literacy and decision-making around money. 3DE’s strategic approach to get high school kids engaged in finance against the backdrop of business case studies and challenges helps teach confidence in tackling real-world problems.” As a former student at Chamberlain High School, Steve Raney, CEO of Raymond James Bank, has a personal interest in the JA’s work in Hillsborough County. “I was delighted to hear that my high school was selected to be a part of the 3DE program,” said Raney. “A significant number of the students at Chamberlain High School come from challenging socioeconomic backgrounds, so providing interactive and practical opportunities to learn about finance is what fuels my own passion towards this work.”

The program’s efforts continue to have a nationwide impact. More and more states are recognizing the value of financial literacy programs. While it’s not yet a part of the core curriculum, JA is helping fill the gap by providing experiential learning opportunities on top of more traditional academic approaches that already exist. 

The impact of the first Innovators Showcase

The Innovators Showcase was a culmination of many hours of hard work and dedication from students across the four Tampa Bay schools. The selected team from each school was challenged to create a business idea using seed capital, develop a plan and case and present their pitch to a panel of judges made up of Raymond James executives and members of the public.

3DE student showing product at Innovators Showcase

The first-place champions of that first Innovators Showcase were from Dunedin High School. “The Take Care team from Dunedin was extremely well-prepared,” O’Connor said, “from their presentation and team chemistry to how comprehensively they had considered their product and its place in the market.”

O’Connor added, “What’s exciting is that through the Innovators Showcase, we’ve been able to go beyond the classroom environment and create a financial learning experience that’s immersive, scaled and does a good job at helping the kids who are participating to retain what they learn in the long term. That and events like this directly embed lessons about business and inspire an entrepreneurial spirit in youngsters. Showing high schoolers – from all walks of life – what they can achieve can be life changing.” 

Raney echoed a similar sentiment: “The whole experience these students get from this program – from the engaging learning environment to the distinctive curriculum – helps equip students with the confidence to be entrepreneurs and understand what skills it takes to be successful in the workforce. The whole program is on another level.”

For over four decades, Raymond James has supported enhancing education within the communities where we live and work through our partnership with Junior Achievement. While 3DE is a relatively new initiative, our firm’s long history and partnership with JA continues to strengthen and make a broad impact.

Raymond James Cares

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