Junior Achievement inducts three into Business Leaders Hall of Fame

Bernice Waley
Bernice Waley

By Christi Milligan

The mission of Junior Achievement of Delaware has always been to inject real-world business experience into the state’s educational blueprint. Last week, the organization, along with M&T Bank, honored three local professionals whose work-force development, strategic planning and innovation are models for the program’s 15,000 students.

Developer Rob Buccini, co-founder of the Buccini/Pollin Group, Gary Stockbridge, CEO of Delmarva Power, and the Welfare Foundation’s Peter Morrow were inducted into the 2015 Business Leaders Hall of Fame in a ceremony at the University of Delaware on Oct. 7. Morrow was honored with a Lifetime Achievement award.

“The whole purpose of the Hall of Fame is to take these icons of business and industry who epitomize that business and give students someone to look up to,” said JA President Rob Eppes.

Peter Morrow
Peter Morrow

Morrow has been president of the Welfare Foundation for nearly two decades. Under his tenure, its foundations have contributed $1 billion to various charities, largely in Delaware, according to M&T officials. Morrow has also worked extensively with the revitalization of Delaware and served on the Riverfront Development Corp., Wilmington Housing Partnership and Delaware State Chamber of Commerce.

“M&T Bank is honored to recognize Mr. Morrow’s longstanding commitment to the community and his profound impact on the economic development in our region,” said Nick Lambrow, president of M&T Bank’s Delaware Region.

Morrow, who has worked in the nonprofit sector for more than 30 years, said the award was indeed an honor, and he hoped the students involved in the JA program would be encouraged to go on to college and ultimately find work in a field they love — just as he has.

“In terms of JA and what they do, they’re teaching students about economics and financial literacy and career development to better prepare these young adults for a better life,” said Morrow.  “The fact that they’re a part of JA gives them an education you don’t always get in traditional schools.”

“The program fills a gap in many respects,” said Delaware Economic Development Director Bernice Whaley, who sits on the JA board and has been a part of JA since Happy Harry’s had a mini-store at BizTown. “Kids learn kinetically and the experiences allow to learn something that’s really important like how to think entrepreneurially and it builds their confidence.”

In addition to his role at the Buccini/Pollin Group, Buccini is also co-founder and co-owner of the Philadelphia Union Major League Soccer team and chairman of the Wilmington Housing Partnership; a member of the board of directors for the vice president of the United States Residence Foundation; and a member of the board of trustees for Delaware State University and Christiana Healthcare Systems.

Rob Buccini
Rob Buccini

Stockbridge serves as board president for the Kingswood Community Center in Wilmington and is former board chair and classroom volunteer for JA.

“By recognizing the accomplishments of Mr. Buccini and Mr. Stockbridge, we hope to further illuminate the path of success in a global economy for our hard- working students,” said Eppes.

When Junior Achievement was founded in Massachusetts nearly a century ago, its aim was to offer city kids the same mentoring dynamic found in rural areas among experienced farmers and their charges.

Today, the program links kids with the inner workings of business enterprise with a focus on seven key content areas: business, citizenship, economics, entrepreneurship, ethics/character, financial literacy, and career development.

Junior Achievement of Delaware reported more than 15,000 students in grades K-12 were engaged by more than 1,300 volunteers during the 2014-15 academic year. Those volunteers delivered 207,000 instructional contact hours, according to Eppes.

Gary Stockbridge
Gary Stockbridge

JA highlights include volunteer-led in-school programs where students learn basic business concepts. Those programs are highlighted by an offsite visit to BizTown, the popular enterprise-based program where kids are assigned all the roles of a business to consumer interplay. Work readiness programs include a competition in collaboration with the Delaware Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) where students navigate workshops on resume writing and interviewing.

“The program fills a gap in many respects,” said Delaware Economic Development Director Bernice Whaley, who sits on the JA board and has been a part of the organization since Happy Harry’s (where Whaley was a vice president) had a mini-store at BizTown. “Kids learn kinetically and the experiences allow to learn something that’s really important like how to think entrepreneurially and it builds their confidence.”

Proceeds support Junior Achievement students pursuing direct employment, entrepreneurial start-up, or continued education upon high school graduation, said Eppes.

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