JCPenney Surprises Students with Virtual Shaquille O’Neal Mentoring Session

To kick off the JCPenney “Ready for Anything Challenge,” we partnered with the Shaquille O’Neal Foundation to support students in need by inviting kids and teens from Boys & Girls Clubs in Atlanta, Dallas, Orlando, and Los Angeles to participate in a virtual mentoring session on Sept. 1, during which Shaq made a special appearance to encourage students, answer questions, and announce a donation of $20,000 in JCPenney gift cards to the clubs – $5,000 per group.

The campaign, happening Sept. 1-15, challenges JCPenney associates and customers to take actions to help prepare students in their communities to be ready for anything this school year:

  • Inspire – Share words of encouragement with a student in your community
  • Listen – Lend a supportive ear
  • Donate – Give supplies or gently used clothing to a local school or nonprofit, or make a financial contribution
  • Volunteer – In-person or virtually within your community
  • Mentor – Share your story with a student about how you persevered through challenging circumstances

“I’m excited to be part of the JCPenney ‘Ready for Anything Challenge,’” Shaq said. “With what kids are facing this year, I wanted to check in with local Boys & Girls Clubs and share some of my experiences and advice to help them feel confident and supported.”

O’Neal participated in the challenge by taking the fifth action – mentoring students. With his signature humor and optimism, students were entertained and gained valuable insights and words of wisdom.

“As JCPenney focuses on closing the opportunity gap, we are delighted to support deserving youth at the Boys & Girls Clubs in Atlanta, Dallas, Orlando, and Los Angeles,” said Jill Soltau, JCPenney chief executive officer. “For young people in need, community assistance is more important than ever, and the vital resources provided by schools and organizations like Boys & Girls Clubs are not currently as accessible due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The JCPenney ‘Ready for Anything Challenge’ will help provide essential support and encouragement for students as they start the school year.”

To support the cause and complete an action, visit and follow #ReadyforAnythingJCP on the Company’s social media channels.