The First Responders Foundation is honored to be inducting Mr. Joe Ricketts into the Ancient Order of the National Society of St. Florian and St. Michael at the 7th Annual 9/11 Luncheon of Honor on September 11, 2023.
J. Joe Ricketts founded the brokerage Ameritrade
A pioneer in the use of technology to revolutionize the financial services sector, J. Joe Ricketts founded the brokerage Ameritrade, a securities industry leader that empowered self-directed investors with innovative investment tools and training.
After graduating from Creighton University in 1968 with an economics degree, Mr. Ricketts began his professional career first as a branch manager at Dun & Bradstreet, then as a registered representative with Dean Witter. In 1975, he co-founded First Omaha Securities, a retail securities brokerage firm in Omaha, Nebraska.
The Charles Schwab Corporation acquired TD Ameritrade for approximately $26 billion
Mr. Ricketts recognized that featuring negotiated commissions would allow the firm to take advantage of the newly deregulated discount securities market. Under Mr. Ricketts’ leadership, First Omaha Securities grew quickly and, through the use of innovative technology and marketing, evolved into Ameritrade, which managed hundreds of billions of dollars in client assets. In 2020, The Charles Schwab Corporation acquired TD Ameritrade for approximately $26 billion, combining the firms into one of the largest global financial powerhouses with approximately $6 trillion in client assets.
Joe Ricketts Supports First Responders, Education, Conservation, Art & More
The Foundation thanks Mr. Ricketts for supporting first responders and their families and the Foundation. On September 25, 2021, Mr. Joe Ricketts/Straight Arrow News hosted Omaha’s Rally for the Responders. This day was dedicated to those who put our city first during a time like no other. It was a day to celebrate first responders, firefighters, police officers, EMTs, nurses, and doctors who showed us what courage and duty are all about during the COVID pandemic.
The Rally was the ultimate thank-you party for First Responders
They cared for the citizens of our community, protected us, and kept our city going. The Rally was filled with live music, food, exotic horses, first responder vehicles, carnival games, and fireworks. The Foundation had a booth where people wrote notes of thanks to first responders and children drew pictures of appreciation. It was held at TD Ameritrade Park and it was 100% free. It was an extraordinary and extravagant, one-of-a-kind day and event. To say the least first responders and their families felt the appreciation.
Mr. Ricketts/Straight Arrow News made a difference in the lives of first responders and their families. Making a difference is not something unusual when it comes to Joe Ricketts. Since 2008, Mr. Ricketts has devoted himself to a variety of entrepreneurial and philanthropic ventures, including:
Opportunity Education Foundation
Opportunity Education Foundation is a charitable foundation with the mission of developing and supporting life-changing learning programs for young adults worldwide.
This provides young people worldwide with educational resources to succeed in life, today and tomorrow. Today’s world is dynamic, connected, and changing, raising new questions all the time. For students to succeed, they need more than fixed answers — they need the ability to keep growing and adapting to the world they find. Quest Forward Learning, the curriculum of Opportunity Education, activates lifelong curiosity in each student, cultivating the mindset, essential habits, and skills to succeed in life and work. Success isn’t about answering old questions. It’s about seeing opportunities to create value and having the skills to do so — for yourself, for your community, and for the world.
Quest Forward Academies
Quest Forward Academies are high schools designed around active, student-centered learning using projects, reflection, and rich feedback to help students learn and grow. There is a Quest Forward Academy in Omaha.
The Cloisters on the Platte Foundation
The Cloisters on the Platte Foundation established in 2017 offers 3-day silent retreats to men and women of all faiths.
More than twenty years ago, Joe Ricketts attended a Jesuit retreat in Minnesota that changed his life. In the midst of a demanding career, his first silent weekend of reflection and study revealed what mattered most to him: family, morality, and honesty. Attending a yearly Jesuit retreat has been a staple of his spiritual life ever since.
Mr. Ricketts had long dreamed of making the Jesuit retreat experience available to more people. The Cloisters on the Platte is the realization of that dream. Mr. Ricketts personally funded the Foundation’s construction of the retreat property. Ongoing operations are funded through a combination of donations by retreatants (free will offerings), donations by people visiting the Stations of the Cross, and product sales. The Cloisters on the Platte Foundation is managed by a Board of Directors.
The Cloisters on the Platte Retreat Center retreats are based on the teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola, who lived from 1491 to 1556. During his lifetime, St. Ignatius composed a brief set of meditations, prayers, and mental exercises to be used by men and women seeking to discern God’s will in their lives. Every year, The Cloisters brings the power of quiet reflection to people seeking spiritual renewal.
Stations of the Cross
The Stations of the Cross located at the Retreat Center are accessible without attending a retreat. Walk the length of the Stations of the Cross and you will have covered the 2,500 steps Jesus Christ took from Jerusalem to his crucifixion. Life-size bronze statues tell the story of Jesus’ path to his death. Each stop along the path includes an audio description of the events leading from his sentence of death by Pontius Pilate to his entombment.
The bronze statues stand about seven feet tall and were created by 10 artists from around the United States. The Stations of the Cross are the only area of the retreat open to the public. As you walk along the route, you’ll notice the beauty of the area, with treelined rolling hills.
Ricketts Conservation Foundation
The Ricketts Conservation Foundation was founded by Joe Ricketts to support the conservation of wildlife and wilderness areas, promoting the importance of environmental stewardship as an enduring value. Central to Mr. Ricketts’ belief is the idea that conservation is everyone’s responsibility. In a world facing increasingly complex environmental challenges, private sector resources play an ever-greater role in the conservation of wildlife and wilderness areas. By answering this need, and encouraging others to do the same, the Ricketts Conservation Foundation aims to make a difference in the quality of life enjoyed by future generations.
Ricketts Art Foundation
The Ricketts Art Foundation was founded to enrich people’s lives by providing innovative access to the works of important visual, performing, and literary artists, both current and past. As its first project, The Foundation partnered with The Buffalo Bill Center of the West and the Museum of Mountain to create The Alfred Jacob Miller Online Catalogue.
Straight Arrow News
In June of 2021, Mr. Ricketts launched Straight Arrow News. Straight Arrow News is committed to fair, factual, unbiased journalism and political commentary that encourages viewers to make up their own minds. By approaching every issue from an objective, middle ground and highlighting underreported stories, the aim is to empower people with context and facts.
Mr. Ricketts owns:
Village Pie Maker
The Village Pie Maker pies are handcrafted in small batches with care and attention to every detail using premium quality fruit with fillings made from scratch—never from a can. The buttery, flaky crust is gently rolled and then crimped by hand. The delicious “take and bake” frozen fruit pies can be found nationwide in many local grocery stores and markets.
From mouth-watering bison burgers and sausages to tender, hand-cut bison steaks, High Plains Bison offers a wide variety of premium bison products that are easy to prepare and great for grilling.
Mr. Ricketts is also the author of the book
The Harder You Work, the Luckier You Get An Entrepreneur’s Memoir (2019).
Simon and Shuster shares,
“Joe Ricketts always had the gift of seeing what others missed. The son of a house builder, he started life as a part-time janitor, but by the age of thirty-three, he saw the chance to challenge the big brokerage firms by offering Americans an inexpensive way to take control of their own stock trading. Nowadays, we take for granted that Main Street is playing right there on Wall Street, but Ricketts made that happen. His company, begun with $12,500 borrowed from friends and family, took off like a rocket thanks to an early embrace of digital technology and irreverent marketing. But Ameritrade also faced a series of near-disasters: the SEC almost shut him down; his partners tried to force him out because of his relentless risk-taking; penny brokers swindled the company; the crash of 1989 nearly cost him everything; and he was almost shut down again when a customer committed massive fraud. By the time of the dot-com bust, he had proven that his strategy based on frontier values could survive just about anything.”
A native of Omaha, Nebraska, Mr. Ricketts and his wife of more than 60 years have four children and fourteen grandchildren.
Omaha’s Rally for the Responders
The Foundation again thanks Mr. Ricketts for his support of the Foundation and first responders and for hosting Omaha’s Rally for the Responders. It was the ultimate thank-you party for First Responders.
We sincerely thank him for all he has done and continues to do to make a difference for people in our local community and throughout the world.
For more information on the Ancient Order of the National Society of St. Florian and St. Michael click here.
More information on the Annual 9/11 Luncheon of Honor click here.
For more pictures from Omaha’s Rally for the Responders visit our Facebook page here.