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Building the Leaders of Tomorrow

December 7, 2016


At Nelnet, we believe in our youth as the future of America. That’s why we are so invested in their success and education. From involvement with TeamMates to participating in Junior Achievement events, mentoring the future leaders of tomorrow is a key component of who we are.

Nelnet has been a long-time partner of TeamMates, a one-on-one, school-based mentoring program.

Through TeamMates, mentors are paired with a young person who they meet with one hour per week. The goal of the program is for mentors to be a positive figure in a child’s life and to help guide them toward achieving their educational goals.

Executive sponsor for TeamMates at Nelnet, Jim Kruger, said it’s an incredibly rewarding opportunity for both the mentor and student.

“Not only is it a great program because it allows Nelnet to give back to the communities we live and work in,” Kruger said. “But it also fits directly with our business model to promote education.”

Nelnet associate Grant Rogers learned about the opportunity to mentor in an informational session in the fall. For Rogers, being a Teammate during his first year at Nelnet has become one of his favorite parts of the week.

From playing basketball to board games with his 7th grade TeamMate, Rogers says he looks forward to their Wednesdays together as much as, if not more than, his TeamMate.

“For some kids it’s hard for them to find an adult to look up to as a role model that’s not a parent,” Rogers said. “I think it’s really important for kids to have another stable person in their life.”

Not only do Nelnet employees volunteer one-on-one as mentors, but they also teach classrooms of students through Junior Achievement.

JA is the nation’s largest nonprofit that helps students build skills to achieve future economic and academic success. To educate students on these skills, outside volunteers come into classrooms and teach students about the community and business.

Nelnet associates are always encouraged to volunteer. In October, many Colorado associates spent time in classrooms during Nelnet’s second annual Service Day.

Scott Hollon, the Nelnet representative on the JA board, said that the volunteer model of teaching real-world skills take some of the pressure off teachers.

“Last year more than 34 Nelnet associates volunteered their time to teach 46 classrooms,” Hollon said. “Junior Achievement’s mission to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy is a great complement to our education focus.”

Chelsea Larkins, a Training and Development Supervisor at Nelnet, has earned membership in the Gold Apple Society. JA volunteers who have taught at least 20 classes receive this distinction.

“The most rewarding part of JA is seeing students I’ve taught succeed,” Larkins said. “Many of them go on to high school and beyond with an entrepreneurial spirit, and I enjoy watching them bring their business ideas to life.”

Whether it is one-on-one or in a classroom, Nelnet associates are working to educate and inspire tomorrow’s leaders.





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