Company
Program

Start to dream. Start a community.
Start a business.

About Company Program

Ever wondered what it would feel like to see your dreams come to life? JA Company Program empowers young people in grades 9-12 with the skills, connections and confidence to build something incredible.

Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur, have a great idea for a start-up, or just want to learn new skills make new friends, this free after-school experience will set you up for life.

Over 18 weeks, you’ll meet like-minded students, connect with dedicated mentors and start your very own business. Along the way, you’ll learn the practical and interpersonal skills, and make some pretty awesome connections that will help you do anything you put your mind to.

Confidence, communication skills, resilience, career exploration, business skills... JA’s Company Program will teach you it all.

Company Program Timeline

Company Program is a hands-on entrepreneurial experience. As a team, you’ll be guided through innovation processes and design thinking. Together with peers and mentors, you’ll produce a prototype, product or service, organize the production and marketing, interact with customers, handle money, and meet deadlines. Company Program combines in-person after-school meetings, online learning and exciting events.

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Meet Our
Students

A huge congratulations to of all of the students who participated in last year’s Company Program! Over 490 high school students created 40 unique start-ups, with mentorship from 230 volunteer advisors from the business community. Take a look at the Company Program yearbook to meet our student companies, Company Program finalists and award winners.

Student Questions

What is the time commitment required for students to participate?

Students are expected to dedicate 3 to 5 hours each week from November to April. This includes:

  • 3 hours weekly for program meetings (set date/time each week)
  • Additional 30 min to 1 hour to work on your business outside of meetings (will vary by week)
  • Students must commit to attending a minimum of 80% of the 18 weekly meetings.

I am interested in participating but will be unavailable for X amount of time due to school/personal commitments. Can I still participate?

  • It is expected that students are present with their group as much as possible and commit to attending a minimum of 80% of the 18 weekly meetings.
  • If you need to be away for a meeting, it is your responsibility to coordinate with your team and to ensure that you are up to date for your next meeting.

Will the program be running in-person or virtually for the 2022-2023 year?

  • The program will be running in-person across Central Ontario. There will be limited offerings which will run virtually.

I am interested in participating but cannot commit to meeting in person. Can I join a team virtually instead?

  • We will have limited program offerings which will run virtually. For these meetings, volunteers and students will meet virtually.
  • For our in-person programs, volunteers and students will be expected to meet in-person. There will be some flexibility to set up periodic virtual meetings, however, students must be prepared and available to meet in-person for most meetings.

Am I required to be fully vaccinated from COVID-19 to participate?

  • While we do encourage all participates to consult with your parent/guardians and family physician to make choices based on current public health guidelines, the vaccine requirement will be determined by each individual locations hosting programs. You will be notified if your program location requires proof of vaccination.

Do I need to have any previous business interest/experience, be enrolled in a business course and/or planning to go into business to participate?

  • Just like any business, your team will need students with a variety of skills and talents to succeed. Your company will need people focused on the business operations, as well as a creative team to run a marketing campaign, to design your product, and to create your website.
  • No matter what you are deciding to go into after high school, Company Program provides you with the necessary skills to help you succeed in any field or career. You will learn about teamwork and collaboration, leadership building, problem solving and communication and public speaking/presenting.

Will I be working alone or with a team?

  • You will be working in a team of 10 to 20 students to create and run one business over 18 weeks.

Do I have to come with a business idea already in mind?

  • Your mentors will guide you in the first few weeks of the program to identify challenges and problems you want to address as a company and brainstorm products to solve these challenges and problems. Together, as a team, you will research and decide on which product idea to move forward with.
  • While you do not have to come with any previous ideas, we do encourage you make a list of some challenges and problems you see in your daily life and contribute them when you are brainstorming with your team.

I already have a business idea. Can I just do that?

  • You are welcome to suggest your idea to your team while you’re in the ideation phase, however, you will decide together as a team which product idea to move forward with.
  • Keep in mind that the program teaches students how to launch and liquidate (close down) a business within 18 weeks. It is not an incubator program for students to launch their own businesses.

Can I bring friends to a meeting?

  • If you and your friends would like to participate together in the program, we encourage you to register for a program location that has spots to accommodate you. Please note that registration is first-come, first-served and we are not able to reserve spots for students.
  • Only students who have registered for a program can participate and attend meetings. Anyone who is not on the registration list will be asked to leave.

What if I don’t know anyone?

  • Don’t let that discourage you! JA aims to create a safe, inclusive, and welcoming environment for all students and volunteers.
  • During your time in Company Program, you will have plenty of opportunities to meet and build strong relationships with your peers and advisors in the program. This is a great opportunity to meet new friends from different schools and areas in Central Ontario.

What is the cost to participate?

  • Thanks to our generous corporate partners, donors and volunteers, there is no program cost to participating in the program.
  • There is a small amount to invest in your company once you and your team have your product selected. This investment will be between $5 and a maximum of $25 and the hope is that you will either break even or make a profit by the end of the year.
  • Students who are not able to invest in a $5-$25 share will not be turned away and are invited to contact JA in confidence for support.

Will I make money?

  • Potentially! Each student will invest in a share (between $5 to $25) in their company. At the end of the year, if the team has made a profit, the profits are then re-distributed amongst the students.
  • Some teams will also pay small wages and commissions to its members, and you will decide as a team whether you will do the same.
  • Some teams will make a small profit, some will break even, and some will not make any money back. Don’t be discouraged if your product doesn’t end up making any money (you will not lose more than your share money $5 to max $25) Company Program is an opportunity to build important business and entrepreneurial skills to help you succeed in the future – including how to take risks and test out ideas!
  • Students who are not able to invest in a $5-$25 share will not be turned away and are invited to contact JA in confidence for support.

Are my parents/guardians allowed to come to meetings?

  • Unfortunately, parents/guardians are not allowed to attend meetings, whether in-person or virtual.
  • Meetings are dedicated to working on your ideas and business activities with your team. You will be supported by a group of volunteer advisors (mentors).
  • Parents/guardians are welcome to meet your volunteer advisors at your first meeting.
  • Parents/guardians will also have opportunities to learn more about what you have been working on at Student Management Training and Trade Show.

Is there a dress code?

  • For your first meeting, we encourage students to dress appropriately and to keep in mind that you will be in a professional setting.
  • Once you and your team have formed your company, you can decide what your dress code will be together.

Am I able to change companies?

  • You will have the first two weeks to submit a request to change programs. Changes are considered on a first-come, first-served basis and can only be accommodated if a spot is available in the location you wish to switch to.
  • After the deadline, no changes will be allowed. Exceptions may be considered from time to time under genuine extenuating circumstances.

What happens if a miss a meeting?

  • It is expected that students are present with their group as much as possible and commit to attending a minimum of 80% of the 18 weekly meetings.
  • Attendance will be taken at each meeting. If you need to be away for a meeting, it is your responsibility to notify your advisors, coordinate with your team, and to ensure that you are up to date for your next meeting.
  • Students may be removed from the program after three unexcused absences (when you haven’t notified the advisors in advance) and for lack of participation/engagement.

Can I arrive late or early? Can I leave early?

  • All students are expected to respect the meeting times and attend meetings during the scheduled times.
  • This is a professional experience and students are expected to treat the program the same as they would a job or school commitment.
  • Exceptions can be made under extenuating circumstances by volunteer advisors.

What kind of support will I get?

  • During your time in Company Program, you will have the support of volunteer advisors (mentors) who will guide you towards building and running your own business.
  • Our volunteer advisors are experienced professionals from the local business community. They will be available to respond to your questions and provide you with the support you need.
  • You are also welcome and encouraged to reach out to JA Central Ontario for support throughout the year.
  • You will also have the support of your team! You will not be building a business alone – you will be working with a team of 10 to 20 students.

Do I get volunteer hours for participating?

  • Unfortunately, JA is not able to grant volunteer hours for your participation in Company Program.

Becoming
an Advisor

Working alongside a team of business professionals, Company Program Advisors act as business mentors, role models and facilitators to a group of 10-20 high school students during an 18-week entrepreneurial journey to create, run and liquidate a business. Company Program Advisors don’t require specific expertise or knowledge, only a passion and willingness to support young people and the ability to foster teamwork. The JA Company Program team provides resources, training and support for all volunteers.

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While the successes are fun and rewarding, the challenges to get there can be tough and exhausting! I have seen many students show so much growth, accountability, learning, ownership, and leadership over the past four years, and I am extremely proud to know that I have helped make that happen.

Matt Mejaski, Advisor, 5 years

Advisor Questions

What is the time commitment required to be a volunteer advisor (mentor)?

  • Volunteers are expected to dedicate 3 to 4 hours each week from November to April. This includes:
    • 3 hours weekly for program meetings (set date/time each week)
    • Additional 30 min to 1 hour for prep time and/or to answer student and JA inquiries (will vary by week)
  • Volunteers must commit to attending a minimum of 75% of the 18 weekly meetings.
  • Volunteers must also attend a mandatory evening virtual training session in October and other training calls throughout the year as required.

I am interested in volunteering but will be unavailable for X amount of time due to work/personal commitments. Can I still volunteer?

  • It is expected that volunteers are present with their group as much as possible and commit to attending a minimum of 75% of the 18 weekly meetings.
  • If you need to be away for a meeting, it is your responsibility to coordinate with your advising team and to ensure that you are up to date for your next meeting.
  • If you are not able to commit to attending at least 75% of the meetings, please reach out to us as we may have guest speaker opportunities that may better fit your availability.

Will the program be running in-person or virtually for the 2022-2023 year?

  • The program will be running in-person across Central Ontario. There will be limited offerings which will run virtually.

I am interested in volunteering but cannot commit to meeting in person. Can I join a team virtually instead?

  • We will have limited program offerings which will run virtually. For these meetings, volunteers and students will meet virtually.
  • For our in-person programs, volunteers and students will be expected to meet in-person. There will be some flexibility to set up periodic virtual meetings, however, volunteers must be prepared and available to meet in-person for most meetings.

Am I required to be fully vaccinated from COVID-19 to volunteer?

  • While we do encourage all volunteers to make choices based on current public health guidelines, the vaccine requirement will be determined by each individual locations hosting programs. You will be notified if your program location requires proof of vaccination.

Do I need to have any previous mentorship experience or be an expert in business/entrepreneurship to volunteer?

  • Volunteers are not required to have previous mentorship experience or be an expert in business/entrepreneurship to volunteer. We encourage volunteers from all professional backgrounds and areas of expertise to participate.
  • Qualities we look for in volunteers:
    • Passionate about supporting and mentoring young people
    • Invested in sharing knowledge and expertise
    • Ability to devote the time required to mentor students
    • Ability to foster teamwork and collaboration
    • Ability to listen actively
    • Ability to share and receive constructive feedback
    • Ability to motivate, manage conflicts and address challenges
    • Ability to demonstrate and encourage fairness, honesty, and integrity
    • Ability to demonstrate and encourage resilience and adaptability
    • Strong organizational and time management skills
  • JA will provide volunteer training, resources, and ongoing support to deliver the program.

Do I need to prepare my own materials?

  • JA will provide volunteer training, resources, and ongoing support to deliver the program.
  • Volunteers will be required to work together with their team to review JA resources and prepare for and facilitate the weekly meetings and lessons.
  • We encourage volunteers to bring in their own resources and expertise to complement the JA program as long as they align with JA’s mission, values, and policies.

Will I be working alone or with a team of volunteers?

  • You will be working with a team of volunteers that will consist of 1 to 2 Lead Advisors and 3 or more Advisors.

What is the difference between a Lead Advisor and Advisor?

  • Lead Advisors and Advisors work together to act as mentors to a team of 10 to 20 high school students. Both Lead Advisors and Advisors are responsible for:
  • Preparing and facilitating weekly meetings with students using JA resources
  • Sharing personal experiences and knowledge with students
  • Supporting students to learn, organize, and assemble information so that they can make sound business decisions
  • The Lead Advisor(s) have the additional responsibility to oversee the advising team, ensuring that the advising and student team is supported and that the program is following curriculum and program timelines.

Do I need to complete a vulnerable sector screening / police check?

  • New volunteers who do not have a current police check on file with JA must be registered and complete the volunteer screening requirements
  • Returning volunteers who have completed a police check within the past 5 years must be registered but are not required to complete the volunteer screening requirements
  • JA will follow up with volunteers to provide details to complete the volunteer screening requirements

How can I get my business/workplace involved in Company Program?

  • We are always looking to reach more students, businesses, and volunteers in Central Ontario. Please reach out to our Company Program Lead, Lucia Ly at lly@jacentralontario.org for more information regarding supporting a Company Program.

Where in Central Ontario can I volunteer? How do I know where I will be volunteering?

  • Company Program locations are dependent on our corporate partners and hosts but may include any of the following areas: downtown Toronto, North York, Scarborough, Markham, Richmond Hill, Pickering, Ajax, Brampton, Mississauga, Oakville, and Burlington.
  • Locations will be confirmed in August and volunteers not already attached to a corporate location will be placed where there is need in September/October.
  • When pre-registering, you will be asked which area you can volunteer in, and we will do our best to place you in your location of choice.

SCHOLARSHIPS
& AWARDS

Every year, JA Central Ontario honours the hard work, dedication and outstanding teamwork of Company Program students and advisors. Students and advisors are nominated for various individual and group awards, and the winners are recognized at the annual ventureON celebration.

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Self-employment is the only solution to this economic crisis and we estimate that one in five Canadians will be their own boss in ten years. Canada needs more entrepreneurs and JA Central Ontario is uniquely positioned to grow and support them.

Benjamin Tal, Deputy Chief Economist
CIBC World Markets

Our Awards

Individual Award

INDIVIDUAL
Individual students are nominated by their team members. This award was designed to acknowledge individual students on their outstanding leadership.

Group Award

GROUP
Student teams are nominated by their advisors. This award is to recognize teams who have exemplified stellar teamwork and performance.

VentureON celebration

ADVISOR
Advisors are nominated by their colleagues to showcase the amazing dedication and skills they bring to this unique program.

Events

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Student Orientation

October

Orientation is Company Program’s kick-off event. It’s an opportunity for all students to learn all about this experience before meeting their teams. Students will also have an opportunity to ask questions, and parents are welcomed to this session too.

Other Company Events

Student Management Training: November/December
At Student Management Training, all students are invited to learn more about departmental roles and responsibilities. Training will also focus on leadership development, as well as communication, problem solving, conflict management and teamwork. During the event student will have the opportunity to ask questions of alumni, advisors and industry experts.

Trade Show: March
Company Program Trade Show is an opportunity for teams to showcase and sell their products or services. Students will create a sales pitch to highlight their product and help generate sales.

Interview Night: April
Students who have been nominated for an award will meet a panel of industry professionals who act as award judges.

VentureON celebration: May
This celebration brings together students, Advisors, sponsors, parents and special guests to celebrate the end of the 18-week Company Program experience.

Our Partners

Become a partner
F23 Company Program sponsors v2