Telephone and Data Systems, TDS’ parent company, is celebrating it’s 50th year—but Junior Achievement (JA) is 100!

JA is an organization that TDS employees volunteer with every year. Originally started in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1919, JA was formed to help young people successfully transition from farm life to the emerging urban lifestyle. Today, JA helps 10 million people in over 100 countries every year prepare to succeed in a global economy and achieve their goals. This is accomplished through invaluable hands-on experience with business professionals who volunteer their time to give back their communities.

In 2019, ten TDS employees volunteered with the non-profit organization, teaching over 200 students in 12 elementary classes throughout Dane County, Wisconsin. These employees focused their weekly lessons mainly on developing young students’ understanding of society and the business-community relationship, while also empowering them to own their future economic success. The topics ranged from teaching the difference between “wants” and “needs” to the discussing types of money and the basic function of taxes.

Jill C., a first-year JA volunteer, was delighted to see the concepts she taught her second graders truly applied to the real-world.

“One of the things we learned about was voting, which happened right at the same time as the midterm elections,” Jill said. “The students were given a situation where they had to choose one of three options on how their school should allocate funds from a hypothetical donation. Initially, the result was a tie, but I noticed one of the kids sitting off to the side hadn’t filled out a ballot. Ultimately he did vote, after some encouragement, and was thrilled to break the tie. This was a great opportunity to stress to the class just how important everyone’s vote is.”

Resoundingly, all the TDS volunteers found the experience to be incredibly rewarding. Suzanne C. has been involved with JA for nine years now, and enjoys teaching second graders how citizens benefit from, and contribute to, a community’s success.

Other employees just completed their first year volunteering with the program about a month ago, and stressed how happy they were to get involved.

Scott S. was one of the first year volunteers. He taught first-graders about how families, neighborhoods, and businesses are all interrelated and support each other.

“I walked out of every session with a new story to tell,” said Scott. “They were so engaged, funny, and smart! The program was also well laid out, with teaching supplies included, making it easy for volunteers to follow the script exactly or veer a little to cater to their own style. Getting involved with JA only takes a small amount of time, and it’s encouraged by TDS, so what’s there to lose by volunteering?”

For more information about how TDS employees are making an impact in their communities, visit


Guest blogger: Garret Seymour

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