JA - a perfect fit outside of school

TIffany Dudley and other Austin Links Mentors teach the JA Company Program

TIffany Dudley and other Austin Links Mentors teach the JA Company Program

Tiffany Dudley,  a JA Alumna and leader at Dell, serves as the Chair for Services to Youth for the Austin (TX) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated. Passionate about fostering entrepreneurship in kids, Tiffany saw a strong need for the youth served by The Austin Links to learn entrepreneurship skills outside of the traditional school setting. Partnering with JA allowed The Austin Links to leverage the proven curriculum of the JA Company Program to meet their goals of fostering youth entrepreneurship. If you are a community youth leader and would like an opportunity to host a JA program, please contact us here.  

First of all Tiffany, tell us what The Austin Links is and why are you involved with them.  The Austin Links are distinguished women who are decision makers, influencers, achievers, and make a difference in their communities.  Their sisterliness and genuine interest in positively impacting the lives of African American youth is what attracted me most.

You are on the supply chain leadership team at Dell. Tell us more about what you do.  I am the North America Retail Collaborative Planning Forecasting and Replenishment Leader. My team enables improved supply chain efficiency through collaborative transparency with our business partners.

Tell us why The Austin Links is working with JA.  We chose JA as a partner for our I'm A Linkpreneur! High School Program because of its longstanding JA Company Program.

I understand you are not the only Austin Links mentor who is a JA Alumna.   Correct! There are many of our members, including myself, who participated in the JA Company Program as youth and recognize the valuable imprint the program has had on us. When The Austin Links mentors first met the I'm A Linkpreneur! students this year, we shared our personal JA Company experiences. This is evidence of how many people JA and specifically, the JA Company Program, has touched.  

I understand that youth mentoring is key mission for The Austin Links. Tell us how JA fits in.  Since both JA and The Austin Links are focused on positive youth programming, a partnership has enabled us to work together on our aligned goals and to foster a 1x1 mentoring relationship with the students.  Use of JA Company Program curriculum has allowed us to expose students to STEM, finance, entrepreneurship, preparing them for success in our global economy.

Tell us about the company the students have started.  The company is called TeenDigital Pro. It is a photo scanning and imaging business with a focus on preserving family photos.

I understand you'd like the Linkpreneur students to attend the JA National Leadership Conference.  Yes, attending the conference is the stretch goal the students have set to validate success of their business.  It will also afford the students the opportunity to network with other student entrepreneurs and provide them hands-on business experience.  

Any advice you’d give other community leaders who might want to implement JA outside of a school setting?  Be flexible and committed. Most high school students are involved in a lot of extracurricular activities so it takes a balancing act, but it is definitely achievable.

Can you speak to any unique challenges women of color may face when pursuing entrepreneurship?  Women entrepreneurs of color tend to have a greater challenge getting their business financed.  Although obtaining financing is a shared challenge among entrepreneurs, the number of loans awarded to women entrepreneurs of color is significantly less than males and their female counterparts.  As a result, women of color tend to self-fund a significant portion of their business.   

How could JA be a potential solution to any of those challenges?  JA's youth programming provides financial literacy, which will help young ladies of color, as well as all youth, to be more financially astute.  The JA Company Program exposes youth to the possibility of owning their own business, whereas most students look to just get a "good" job.  That is a different mindset!  JA's continued exposure of youth to entrepreneurial and other business concepts is one way JA provides a solution to these challenges.