The Women's Giving Circle of Howard County

JA Rising Women

JA Rising Women is the WGC’s multi-year grant supporting a 13 week after-school entrepreneurship program for girls grades 9-12, in partnership with Junior Achievement of Central Maryland. 2018 is our fourth year of funding JA Rising Women, having invested $100,000 to date.

“Since joining JA Rising Women, I have learned skills that will help me thrive in college or in the working world. Being a part of the creation of a company allowed me to experience every aspect of a business, where I uncovered a passion for the business field.” – Paula Shin, River Hill High

JA Rising Women meets after school and connects students from across the county with business mentors who help participants develop a product or service, raise capital, deploy marketing and collect profits. Previous Rising Women cohorts, ranging from 12 to 22 girls per semester, developed products including scented pillowcases, recipe books and school spirit wear.

“JA Rising Women is exactly the kind of on-the-ground opportunity for young women that we love to support,” said Alison Canning, chair of The Women’s Giving Circle. “It gives girls a chance to roll up their sleeves and learn through experience, empowering them to take the lead and find fulfillment in their future endeavors.”

Mentors are an important key to the program’s success, serving as guides to the students as they make decisions that impact the course of their companies. Throughout the months that the program takes place, the students design and execute their own business plans to turn a profit and gain experience in decision making and collaboration, as evidenced by this wonderful article in the Business Monthly.

“We’ve watched girls grow from students to entrepreneurs in the JA Rising Women program,” said Jennifer Bodensiek, president and CEO for Junior Achievement of Central Maryland. “Our Rising Women learn the importance of creativity, collaboration and hard work and carry those skills into the future.”

Since 2015, JA Rising Women has launched 5 new student-run companies, generated profits over $2,400 and donated proceeds to local community efforts including KIVA, Howard County Food Bank, Special Olympics, and the Linus Project.

This is a recent testament to the JA Rising Women program that we are proud to fund:

“As a physician, I understand the importance of learning skills though an apprentice-type program. The residency training program is how we learn and transition from young physicians with raw skills into actual practicing physicians. I see the JA rising women program as a beginning apprentice program for young women with the raw skills needed to be developed into successful business women. During this program, I watched my daughter grow through the practical application of business skills needed to become a confident business woman. She learned these skills by the actual practice of starting and running a business with other young women in the program. They learned and applied various skills, including how to deal with difficult situations with colleagues, learning how to write professional emails, learning how to dress in appropriate business attire, and learning how to communicate with other professional business leaders. She enjoyed the program immensely and I loved the fact that the parents are not involved in any way except for transportation and support. The JA Rising Women is an incredible program. Thank you for offering and maintaining this opportunity. It more than delivers on its purpose as it creates the foundation that will support the development of successful business women through the years.” – Ife Omitowoju, MD, JA Rising Women Participant Parent

The Women’s Giving Circle of Howard County is a community of women philanthropists who strategically raise money and pool funds to help women and girls in Howard County. The Women’s Giving Circle works to increase giving by women and build a permanent endowment fund supporting services that help women and girls develop life skills and personal authority. The Women’s Giving Circle fund is an endowed fund at the Community Foundation of Howard County. (

Junior Achievement of Central Maryland is dedicated to inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy. Through a dedicated volunteer network, Junior Achievement of Central Maryland provides hands-on programs that show more than 46,000 K-12 students each year the realities of how careers, money and business ownership work. (

Photos courtesy of JA of Central Maryland, at the JA Rising Company of the Year 2017 event.