JA In The News | Junior Achievement of Central Illinois

JA is Really Newsworthy!

New Board Member Announcement

Junior Achievement of Central Illinois is proud to announce the addition of 4 new members to the Board of Directors. Read the article from the Peoria Journal Star at the link below to find out more.

Junior Achievement of Central Illinois elects new board members- Peoria Journal Star


Junior Achievement Turns 100 in 2019

Junior Achievement (JA) is celebrating its centennial in 2019. The organization was founded in 1919 in Springfield, Massachusetts by business leaders Horace Moses, founder of Strathmore Paper Company, and Theodore Vail, Chairman of AT&T, and with the support of Murray Crane, U.S. Senator from Massachusetts. The original purpose of JA was to help teens moving from rural America to the industrial cities gain the skills they would need to be successful adults.

For its first 25 years, JA operated primarily in the Northeastern United States and in a few cities in the Midwest. That began to change after World War II as the organization undertook a national expansion. JA of Central Illinois was founded in 1946. By 1969, JA marked its 50th Anniversary by offering JA programs in all 50 States.

For more than 50 years, the only program available from Junior Achievement was JA Company. This was an after-school program where teens started a business with the guidance of JA Advisors, who were volunteers from the local business community. The teen-run businesses would sell stock, produce a product or service, and, after several months, liquidate and ideally provide shareholders with a return on their investment. At its high point, the JA Company Program reached nearly 300,000 teens a year and the National Junior Achievement Conference (NAJAC), an annual conference at Indiana University, drew more than 2,000 attendees yearly.

In the 1970s Junior Achievement started to offer programs in classrooms during school hours with the introduction of Project Business, a program that introduced middle school students to business concepts, and Business Basics, a program that helped elementary school students gain an understanding of business and money. By the 1980s, JA was bringing Personal Computers (PCs) into high school classrooms for its Applied Economics program. JA was reaching 1 million students a year by the end of the decade.

Though JA’s first international operations started in Canada in the 1950s and the United Kingdom in the 1960s, the organization’s global footprint grew exponentially in the 1990s with expansion in the former Soviet Union, Asia, Africa, South America and the Middle East. At the same time, in the United States JA launched Junior Achievement programs for all grades, K through 12.

Today, Junior Achievement offers programs in more than 100 communities across the U.S., reaching nearly 5 million students with the support of nearly a quarter-million volunteers, primarily from the business community. Globally, JA reaches more than 10 million students worldwide with programs in over 100 countries.

To help mark the JA Centennial, there are several national events planned in 2019. These include Junior Achievement representatives ringing the bell at the New York Stock Exchange, the release of an hour-long PBS documentary, the launch of a national awareness campaign and a “Junior Achievement Day” celebration at the Eastern States Exposition – aka “The Big E” – in Springfield, Massachusetts, where Junior Achievement was founded. 

AppsCo expands to Manual Academy for the upcoming school year

Junior Achievement serves as an educational partner to AppsCo, a program that is expanding to Manual Academy this school year. Read the article from the Peoria Journal Star at the link below to find out more.

AppsCo expands to Manual Academy for the upcoming school year - Peoria Journal Star

JA Gems August 2018

Click here to read the August edition of JA Gems enewsletter

July JA Gems

Click here to read the July edition of JA Gems enewsletter

June 2018 JA Gems

Click here to read the June edition of JA Gems enewsletter

May 2018 JA Gems

Click here to read the May edition of JA Gems

JA Gems April 2018

Find the April edition of JA Gems Monthly Newsletter Here

Includes information about Financial Literacy Month, Stock Market Challenge, volunteering, and more!

STEM Career Fair

Students Need Your Help!

Many children could benefit from Junior Achievement (JA) this spring, and they need you to serve as their mentor!  JA volunteers come from all walks of life, sharing a message of hope and opportunity with every young person they reach.  Junior Achievement serves students in kindergarten through high school, focusing on entrepreneurship, financial literacy and work readiness in an age-appropriate way.  Getting started is easy.  All you need is your enthusiasm, life experience, and a willingness to teach children about how you took chances and shot for the stars.  Junior Achievement provides the training, curriculum and a classroom ready to meet you.


Junior Achievement volunteers often say they get as much from the experience as the students, if not more!  The 25 schools in need of Junior Achievement volunteers this spring are listed below.  No obligation new volunteer webinars are being offered Thursday, March 15, 10:00 am – 10:45 am and Wednesday, March 21, 1:00 pm – 1:45 pm.  To sign up for a webinar, contact sienna.beard@ja.org


For more information about volunteering, visit centralillinois.ja.org, contact rachel.tan@ja.org or call 309-682-1800. 




Calvary Christian


Charter Oak Primary School


Chester East Lincoln Elementary School


Dirksen Primary School


Franklin Primary School


Glen Oak Community Learning Center


Goodfield Elementary School


Harrison Community Learning Center


Hines Primary School


Kellar Primary School


L E Starke Primary School


Limestone Community High School


Lincoln K-8 School


Lindbergh Middle School


Monroe Elementary School


Peoria Heights Grade School

Peoria Heights

Peoria High School


Ridgeview Elementary School


Roosevelt Magnet School


St Philomena School


St. Vincent de Paul School


Thomas Jefferson Primary School


Whittier Primary School


Wilder-Waite Elementary School


Willow School



Staffing Update: Welcome Heather

We are pleased to announce that Heather Sexton is the newest addition to the JA of Central Illinois team as our Development Manager. She brings a strong set of skills that will allow her to continue to cultivate relationships within the communities served by Junior Achievement of Central Illinois.

Heather brings more than 14 years of diverse cultivation and development experience ranging from higher education, community development, agricultural education, legislative and political relations. She most recently served as an Executive in Career Development with Learning for Life (LFL) - an affiliate company of the Boy Scouts of America. During her tenure, she furthered the LFL mission by creating immersive career opportunities for youth ages 10 to 20 years of age. Prior to her time there, she held various positions in political advocacy and development with Illinois Farm Bureau and Lincoln College.

Heather attended Lincoln College and University of Illinois and is a central Illinois native. Calling Lincoln her hometown, she lived in Atlanta, IL for ten years before relocating to Peoria in 2015 with her husband Jake and children – Lexi, Trey, and Grant. We are happy to have Heather on our team and invite you to join us in welcoming her to the Junior Achievement family

January is JA Alumni Month

Were you involved with Junior Achievement as a kid? If you were, you were one of 100 million young people who have experienced JA since the organization’s founding in 1919.

Whether you started a business as part of the original JA Company Program, learned about possible careers through JA Job Shadow, made decisions as a “grownup” in JA Finance Park or JA BizTown, or had a JA volunteer come to your classroom to teach you about business, careers and how money works, Junior Achievement hopefully had a positive impact on your life.

Each year, JA reaches nearly 5 million students across the United States. Locally, Junior Achievement of Central Illinois implements programs for approximately 15,000 students each year. But there is more that can be done. Junior Achievement’s programs are needed now more than ever before. 

If you’ve ever thought about reconnecting with Junior Achievement, becoming a JA volunteer is one way to do it. JA makes volunteering fulfilling, with flexible scheduling options. Our curriculum provides everything you need to make participation in JA valuable and engaging for students.

For as little as an hour a week, you can make a difference in the lives of young people in our community. Your Junior Achievement experience will leave you feeling proud, energized and hopeful about a better future for our young people.

Come back to Junior Achievement and help us bring the real world to a new generation of students. Your support helps bring the JA experience to more schools and students in our community, opening students’ minds and making a positive impact on their lives.  Connect with Junior Achievement of Central Illinois today through our easy online form or by contacting Angie Houck at angie.houck@ja.org.

The Money Jar #110: Is Productivity Slowing Down?

With technology and this information age, we always hear “the world is changing faster than ever”. But is it? Today’s guest makes the case this is not true.  He says economic growth is slowing down in America, and this has huge implications for your future. Todd and Evan interview Professor Robert Gordon, an influential economist who makes the case for how productivity may be slowing.

Robert Gordon is an economics and social science professor at Northwestern University and author of “The Rise and Fall of American Growth”. To hear more from Robert see his TED Talk and interview on NPR’s Planet Money.


Audio Player

Volunteer Opportunities

Below is a current list of central IL area schools in need of a JA volunteer.  There are many other schools participating in JA this year.  If the school you are seeking is not on this list, they may be pending next steps for Fall semester participation, may have Spring semester JA, or may already have confirmed volunteers and no openings.  This list only reflects classes to date (as of 8 am, 11/2/17) without a confirmed volunteer.  Please email Rachel Tan at rachel.tan@ja.org or Angie Houck at angie.houck@ja.org to sign up or complete the online volunteer registration form here: bit.ly/EmpowerTheFuture

Limestone Community High School
Wilder-Waite Elementary School
East Peoria
Robein School
Germantown Hills
Germantown Hills Intermediate School
Hannah City
Peoria Regional Learning Center
Charter Oak Primary School
Harrison Community Learning Center
Hines Primary School
Holy Family School
Kellar Primary School
Lincoln K-8 School
Northmoor Primary School
Ridgeview Elementary School
Peoria Heights
St. Thomas School


Special Thanks to Caterpillar Foundation

Special thanks to the Caterpillar Foundation for their support of financial literacy programs in central Illinois. This continued partnership brings essential education to help young people learn, be empowered, and rise from poverty. Following Caterpillar Foundation's initiatives to end poverty through collaboration, this gift will allow Junior Achievement to continue the expansion of student programs and community partners as we work together to improve the lives of those in central Illinois.

Our Wish List

To help reduce the cost to implement programs, Junior Achievement requests the donation of items and services that we regularly use in our office operations throughout the year. If you think you have an item that could help or you'd like to volunteer for an opportunity below, contact sally.eastman@ja.org.


  • laptops
  • tablets
  • professional office furniture (desks and chairs)
  • copy paper
  • envelopes
  • note pads
  • labels

Donations to Fundraisers

  • Tickets to sporting events
  • Restaurant Giftcards

Volunteer Opportunities (in addition to classroom volunteers of course!)

  • Special Events (stock market challenge traders, event check-in helpers, etc.)
  • Professional Photography (staff headshots & event photographers)
  • Marketing (varying time commitments and skills including writing, videography, etc.)
  • Office work (stuffing mailers, entering data, stamping envelopes)
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Press Releases

JA Press Releases




  • "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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