Many of the volunteers with Junior Achievement consider their time spent teaching children about finances an investment in the future.
"It's a rewarding experience," said Nakeia Burrell, a four-year volunteer who teaches middle school classes. "We owe the opportunity to our youth, to prepare them for life outside of school. Junior Achievement is a great way to get back."
The nonprofit's 24th annual Bowl-A-Thon fundraising campaign kicked off Tuesday. The bowling event will be held from April 25 to April 27.
While 72 teams signed up last year, this year the organization is aiming to have more than 100 teams sign up this year.
Participants in the Bowl-A-Thon are asked to raise at least $50 for each player on the team, which are usually made up of a corporation's employees. The fundraising isn't dependent on a bowler's performance.
"You don't even have to know how to bowl," said executive director Jim Guay with a laugh.
Drawings for prizes will be held for players who raise the most as well as their sponsors.
Donors will be entered in a drawing for a TV for every $10 they donate. Those who donate $100 or more will be entered to win the grand prize, a vacation package for two.
The Junior Achievement program sends volunteers into classrooms from kindergarten through 12th grade to present students with age-appropriate lessons about "how to generate wealth and effectively manage it, how to create jobs which make their communities more robust and how to apply entrepreneurial thinking to the workplace," according to the organization's website.
Junior Achievement has reached more than 3,900 children, Guay said. The lessons instill "critical thinking skills and confidence," he said.
The majority of the students are from economically disadvantaged families.
"They're not going to get this message anywhere else," Guay said. "Without this message, Tyler students would leave school unprepared and uninspired."
As the program is expanding to more schools, more volunteers are needed.
"It only takes about 30 to 45 minutes of your day, for five days throughout the semester," he said. "These schools feel so strongly about it that they say, ‘You can have some of our precious classroom time.'"
Visit tyler.ja.org to donate online or call 903-581-7482 for more information.