The venture started three years ago with two first-grade girls.
Julia Nardozzi and Amelia Lucas approached teacher Maureen Frew with the idea to start an after-school club to make things and sell them.
Frew, a maker education specialist at Avonworth Primary Center and a teacher in residence at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, agreed it was a great concept. Together, the three of them formed Jam Enterprises – “Girls who make. Girls who care.” – using the initials from their first names.
Since then, the JAM movement has grown to include 50 girls in kindergarten through 5th grade who meet once a week and decide what to make.
“They price the product, they make the product, sell the product and distribute the product,” Frew says. “Each month, we donate to a local non-profit cause.”
JAM’s most recent project has caught the excitement of Avonworth School District from students and teachers to secretaries, custodians, and lunch ladies.
They have all been sporting white T-shirts with the printed message #bethekindkid, with kindness being the April theme of the entrepreneurial girls.
The #bethekindkid T-shirts have been the only item outsourced due to the high demand for orders, already in its second printing.
A portion of this month’s project will benefit the American Cancer Society, which is close to the hearts of two sisters in the club, Ellie and Imogene Boggess. Their father, Jeff Boggess, a teacher at Avonworth High School, died in 2015 from leukemia at age 37.
“We wanted to honor his memory,” Frew says.
Ellie and Imogene’s mom, Stephanie Boggess, says the club has been important to her daughters, especially as they deal with the loss of their father.
“A lot of families have dealt with it – it’s a difficult path,” she says. “Helping out is part of the JAM experience. It’s beautiful to see the girls posting photos with their T-shirts on social media. It’s exciting to see them having an opportunity to come together and be positive.”
“JAM really is all fun,” she says, “and you get to help people who really need it.”
The sisters were a big part of the kindness idea, along with two other sisters, Ady and Aria Burgoyne.
“Not everyone in the universe has a friend, says Aria, a kindergarten student. “So I wanted to make a product that could be a friend. Something that you could keep, forever.”
Mom, Shannon Burgoyne, says her girls love being a part of JAM Enterprises.
“It makes them proud of themselves to be able to make fun projects and contribute to charities,” she says. “It’s empowering to them.”
The T-shirts have been one of the most popular sales. The girls are looking forward to visiting the high school soon to meet and donate shirts to 10 girls chosen to be positive role models.
Among other products, the club creates and sells Tin Bins that contain small travel games, like the Finger Twister; first aid kits; a bookmark making kit; or a 3-D puzzle. They recently launched an online store.
The club’s charitable support includes donations to the Ohio Township Fire Dept., Meals on Wheels, Animal Friends and to area families in need.
JAM members hope their club continues to grow and spread to other schools.
“Most importantly, the girls don’t want the movement to be a fad,” Frew says. “They want it to be a foundation that kids live by.”