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Preparing Baton Rouge Students for Brighter Tomorrows with Junior Achievement

November 17, 2022
Robert Schneckenburger
Robert Schneckenburger

When Hancock Whitney Commercial Banking Manager Jerry Denicola wraps his lesson on entrepreneurship to local students, he makes a point to become their very first investor, passing out gold dollar coins.

“To give that four-hour window of time to enrich the lives of students, to see what it takes to be an adult or a business owner is very rewarding,” said Denicola.


Junior Achievement of Baton Rouge

Hancock Whitney Commercial Banking Manager Jerry Denicola taught financial basics to students at Magnolia Woods Elementary School in Baton Rouge.


Denicola is one of hundreds of Hancock Whitney associates in the Baton Rouge area to volunteer his time and expertise to teach students though a long-standing partnership with Junior Achievement (JA) of Greater Baton Rouge. In last five years alone, 150 different Hancock Whitney associates have shared their talents to impact local students through JA Baton Rouge.

For the last six decades, JA Baton Rouge, a local chapter of the national nonprofit Junior Achievement, has worked to empower the next generation to succeed in a global economy by teaching financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship. Annually, JA Baton Rouge reaches more than 30,000 students at 100-plus local schools. To maintain that level of impact, JA Baton Rouge relies on community partners to support their efforts through volunteer resources as well as charitable contributions.

“Community partners like Hancock Whitney offer critical resources to keep our programming running,” shared Junior Achievement of Greater Baton Rouge Vice-President of Development Michele Carbo. “We are grateful for Hancock Whitney’s continued support in all facets, from providing volunteers and board members, to advancing our fundraising efforts.”

Denicola, who also serves on JA Baton Rouge’s executive board, shares the importance of this partnership. “Creating opportunities for people and the communities we serve is one of Hancock Whitney’s core pillars, so we whole-heartedly support JA Baton Rouge’s mission. We continually encourage our associates to get involved with JA Baton Rouge to teach financial education and the organization is so welcoming to our associate volunteers.”

Senior Marketing Manager and frequent JA Baton Rouge volunteer Courtney Hart echoes Denicola’s sentiment. “JA Baton Rouge does a great job of preparing volunteers and making the curriculum easy to teach,” shared Hart. “Not only do our associates come back and rave about their experience, they continually look for the next opportunity to participate which is a testament to JA Baton Rouge’s staff and impact.”

Hart details the visible energy volunteers experience when working with students. “You enter a classroom and you see students engaged in the topic and asking questions, and it’s a really great feeling knowing this may be an eye-opening experience to a child who has never been exposed to financial concepts at home.”

“Junior Achievement is changing the trajectory of these students’ lives and helping build strong financial futures,” said Denicola. “We look forward to sharing our time, expertise and resources with JA Baton Rouge for years to come and help strengthen the next generation that will help our community succeed.”

Learn about JA Baton Rouge at batonrouge.ja.org.

Discover more about Hancock Whitney’s community commitment.