JA Through the Years | Junior Achievement of the Bluegrass

JA Throughout The Years

Junior Achievement (JA) is celebrating its centennial in 2019. JA was started in 1919 in Springfield, Massachusetts by Strathmore Paper Founder Horace Moses, AT&T Chairman Theodore Vail and U.S. Senator from Massachusetts Murray Crane. JA's founding was in response to families moving from farms to the growing industrial cities. The goal was to provide young people with the skills they would need to be successful adults in their new communities.

During the course of the past 100 years, JA has evolved from an organization operating primarily in the Northeastern United States and teaching teens how to start a business into a multinational organization reaching more than 10 million students in 100 countries with programs that promote entrepreneurship, career and work readiness and financial literacy. In the United States, JA reaches nearly 5 million students in grades K-12.

Why Junior Achievement?

Historical Milestones

The following are highlights of significant events that have occurred in Junior Achievement's history over the past 100 years.

  • 1919

    Junior Achievement is founded in Springfield, Massachusetts. It consists of the JA Company Program, an after-school program that teaches teens about starting a company with the help of business advisors from the local community.

  • 1930's

    Despite the Great Depression, JA is able to continue operating, primarily in the Northeastern United States.

  • 1940's

    JA student companies support the war effort with recycling drives and by producing materials, such as clothes hangers, to be used by the armed services. After the war, JA begins to expand nationally.

  • 1950's

    JA continues to grow nationally. During this period, the first international JA operation is established in Canada.

  • 1960's

    The first overseas JA operation is established in the United Kingdom. By 1969, JA marks its 50th Anniversary with JA programs being offered in all 50 states.

  • 1970's

    By this time, the JA Company Program is reaching nearly 300,000 teens a year. JA begins to offer programs in schools with the launch of Project Business, a program for middle school students taught in classrooms during the school day. By the late 1970s, Business Basics, an in-school program for 5th graders, is introduced.

  • 1980's

    JA is one of the first organizations to bring personal computers (PCs) into the classroom as part of its implementation of Applied Economics, a business and economics program for high school students. By the end of the decade, JA is reaching 1 million students a year.

  • 1990's

    JA began the 1990's with a surge in international expansion, rolling out programs in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Soon, JA programs were growing in Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. In the United States, JA was offering programs for all grades, K through 12, focusing on entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy.

  • 2000's

    JA began delivering more experience-based programming through JA Finance Park and JA BizTown. These "Capstone" experiences allow for middle and elementary school students to run a town for the day, gaining a greater understanding of decisions around starting a business, having a career and managing money.

  • Today

    In the United States, JA programs reach nearly 5 million students in grades K-12 each year. JA is implementing blended-learning programs that use digital technology to help make its programs more relevant and impactful for the students of today. JA programs are delivered by nearly a quarter-million volunteers, primarily from the business community, in more than 100 communities across the United States.


Notable Alumni

Events Marking the JA Centennial

January 2019JA Launches to 100 Years. 100% Ready Awareness Campaign

February 2019JA Releases its "Disconnected Youth" Study

March 2019JA Volunteer Summit in New York, featuring bell-ringing at New York Stock Exchange to mark JA Centennial.

April 2019JA Centennial elements tied into Financial Literacy Month

May 2019 PBS Stations Begin Airing the JA Documentary, "Made Possible: The Business of Junior Achievement"

June 2019JA Centennial elements tied into National Student Leadership Summit

July 2019JA Centennial Celebration at the National Leadership Conference (NLC) in Colorado Springs, Colorado

September 2019"JA Day" at The Big E! (Eastern States Exposition) in Springfield, Mass. The birthplace of Junior Achievement

December 2019Junior Achievement Dedicates the JA Time Capsule at the Junior Achievement Pioneers Museum in Colorado Springs

  • "Junior Achievement has given me a sense of what adults go through with budget issues."

    -Junior Achievement Student
  • "Junior Achievement reinforced concepts for me to remember later in life."

    -Junior Achievement Student
  • "I thought the experience was amazing. The presentation was unlike anything I've seen."

    -Junior Achievement Student
  • "I liked how the Junior Achievement volunteer explained his job to us."

    -Junior Achievement Student

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