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Cinnaire Advances Economic Equity Through Youth Development Initiatives

Michigan Business Network
June 5, 2024 11:00 AM


Cinnaire is dedicated to advancing economic equity and actively supports organizations that empower the next generation and foster economic success. Junior Achievement (JA) is a global youth-serving organization that plays a vital role in preparing young people for future job opportunities. By providing innovative and hands-on learning experiences in financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship, JA paves the way for employability and job creation. Cinnaire proudly serves as Inclusion Sponsor, helping to advance JA’s work in the Mid-Michigan region.

Cinnaire staff actively participate in JA programs, dedicating their time and skills to inspire and prepare young individuals for success in the global economy. The JA Career Speaker Series is an initiative where volunteer guest speakers visit classrooms to share valuable insights about their career journeys and educational experiences. These events are designed to support the JA Work and Career Readiness Pathway, which offers high school students an immersive and comprehensive learning experience centered around the workplace. During these speaker sessions, students have the opportunity to learn from professionals across various industries, gaining valuable knowledge about different career paths and the skills required for success. The speakers provide firsthand accounts of their work, offering unique perspectives and practical advice to inspire and guide the students. Our team, including Mary Manuel, Brittany Rugg, Ryan Brand and Kristin Bolan, had a wonderful experience participating in a recent speaker series, where they had the opportunity to connect with students, engage in meaningful discussions, and inspire the next generation of leaders.


Mary Manuel, Director, Learning and Talent Development, highlighted how impactful the series is, stating “Participating in the JA speaker series was an incredibly fulfilling experience. Connecting with the students and engaging in meaningful discussions left a lasting impression on me. Throughout the event, I had the opportunity to share my own personal journey and professional experiences with the students. It was a chance to provide them with insights into the real world and offer guidance as they navigate their own career paths. Seeing their eyes light up with excitement and hearing their thoughtful questions made me realize the impact we can have on shaping the next generation of leaders. Engaging with the students and seeing firsthand their passion and determination reaffirmed my belief in the power of mentorship and the importance of investing in the next generation. Shout out to Cinnaire for encouraging our team to make a difference by volunteering and investing our time to impact our communities.”

Katlynn Kretz and Andrea Bailey recently contributed to the JA of Mid-Michigan Girls’ Dream Fair, an event that introduced middle school students to STEM careers by featuring influential women leaders in the Lansing area. The event included TED-style talks from inspirational women, followed by mentors utilizing the JA It’s My Future curriculum to encourage students to explore their own potential and consider pursuing careers in STEM.


Andrea Bailey, Cinnaire’s Asset Manager for Stabilized Assets, shared her excitement about the Dream Fair, stating, “The JA Girls’ Dream Fair was energetic, refreshing, and rewarding. At 14, young individuals may not fully comprehend the diverse career options that shape the well-being of their communities. It was incredibly meaningful to hear about the wide range of career aspirations from the students and connect those aspirations to the industry I work in. JA programs have a remarkable impact on opening doors to careers that many young people may not learn about until after graduating college. I’m proud to join my colleagues at Cinnaire in supporting the incredible impact JA programs have for the next generation.”

More than two hundred 7th and 8th grade students attended the JA Girls’ Dream Fair, with 100% of attendees sharing they would participate again and 90% stating after this experience they expect to go to college.

Katlynn Kretz, Cinnaire’s Manager of Equity Underwriting, expressed her appreciation for the organizers of the JA of Mid-Michigan 2024 Dream Fair. “Huge shoutout to the organizers at JA of Mid-Michigan for putting together a fantastic Dream Fair! This event introduced me to the upcoming generation of women and left me feeling inspired and excited for a future that revolves around impact, innovation, and creativity. It is crucial for the affordable housing and community development space to invest in these future leaders, both early and consistently.”

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