JA In The News | Junior Achievement of Central Illinois

JA is Really Newsworthy!

Survey: The "New Normal" Hasn't Dampened Teens' Interest in Becoming Entrepreneurs

A new survey for Junior Achievement (JA) by research firm ENGINE Insights shows that teens remain open to becoming an entrepreneur and starting a business despite the impact of COVID-19 on U.S. small businesses. Two-thirds (66%) of teens between the ages of 13 and 17 said they were "likely" to consider starting a business or becoming an entrepreneur as an adult. A similar survey conducted in 2017 showed that nearly the same percentage of teens (69%) were likely to start a business then. The 2020 survey of 1,000 teens was conducted from May 14 to 20, 2020.

Small business is the backbone of the American economy and the driver of job growth. Despite the effects of the COVID-19 shutdown on the business community, it is encouraging to see the next generation still interested in considering entrepreneurship as a career path. We must encourage that interest going forward.

Other findings of the survey include:

  • Nearly a third of teens (29%) said their greatest concern about starting a business is that it's "too risky," while a quarter (24%) don't believe there's "enough money in it." Fewer (18%) said it didn't "fit my personality/skills."
  • Most teens (52%) said they need "someone to invest" in their business to consider being an entrepreneur. Nearly as many (51%) said they would need "more information on what it would take to be successful" and (47%) said they would need "support from parents and family." Around a third of teens (38%) would need "friends with similar interest" to team with them, and a similar amount (34%) would need "a role model who is a business owner."

The survey was conducted in support of a virtual event featuring entrepreneur and Shark Tank "shark" Mark Cuban.

As an extension of its digital and experiential learning resources, Junior Achievement partnered with Brian Hamilton Foundation, the Mark Cuban Foundation, and Microsoft, to host "Why Entrepreneurship Now: A Virtual Event for America's Teens" on May 27 at 3 p.m. ET and a recording is available here.

Hosted by Harris Faulkner, anchor of Fox News Channel's "Outnumbered Overtime" and co-host of "Outnumbered," this unique interactive event gives teens across America the opportunity to ask questions of some of the country's most experienced entrepreneurs. The panelists offer simple, straightforward strategies to empower participants to start the entrepreneurial journey in their youth and lay the foundation for a successful future.

Panelists include:

  • Brian Hamilton, National Entrepreneur Educator, Co-founder of Sageworks, Philanthropist, Founder of the Brian Hamilton Foundation and Inmates to Entrepreneurs
  • Mark Cuban, Co-star, ABC's "Shark Tank," owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks and Author, "How to Win at the Sport of Business" and "Kid Startup"

Students, parents, and teachers can learn more here


This Youth CARAVAN survey was conducted by ENGINE INSIGHTS among a sample of 1,000 respondents aged 13-17. This survey was live on May 14-20, 2020.


Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have volunteered to participate in online surveys and polls. The data have been weighted to reflect the demographic composition of the 18+ population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to multiple sources of error, including, but not limited to sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments.

Junior Achievement Alumni Experience

Ipsos, one of the world’s leading market research firms, surveyed JA Alumni to learn the impact Junior Achievement had on them. Download the full report here! Or watch the summary below.


JA Alumni Report - Overview from diane birkeness on Vimeo.

JA Titan Competition Moves Online!

For 100 years, Junior Achievement has committed to meeting students where they are, partnering with schools, and adapting to a changing world. That commitment is not changing as students continue learning from home! The 14th Annual JA Titan Business Challenge brought the competition to where the students were – online, of course.

JA Titan’s online program allows students to compete against one another as CEOs of simulated companies.  Players plan and execute each aspect of a business including price, production, marketing, capital investment and research and development.  Like any business today, the goal is to reach a balance of supply and demand at an efficient cost of production while competing with each other and other fictional companies in the industry.  The software calculates each team’s Performance Index (PI) based upon a weighted measurement of the company’s value and performance.

This year’s first place winning team was The Radar Inc., from East Peoria Community High School!  Team members Bryn Osborne and Tyeson Sommer earned the highest Performance Index for their company by outperforming five other local teams. After demonstrating the largest Performance Index growth across all competition rounds, BGC Girl’s Squad Inc. was awarded the Most Improved Company award.  Congratulations to Bethany Warren and Serenity Barnes of the Boys and Girls Club Bloomington for this achievement!

This competition was sponsored by Associated Bank, Illinois American Water, Komatsu, Morton Industries and PMP Fermentation.

New Resources - JA Economics Mini Course

Where did all the toilet paper and hand sanitizer go?  Why can’t we find our favorite frozen pizza? The COVID-19 pandemic offers a unique opportunity to watch businesses and consumers respond to a crisis in real time. The new JA Mini Economics website was launched to help people learn about the circular flow of the economy and today’s current economic climate in the era of COVID-19.  Free and open to anyone, this resource features the big ideas from our JA Economics course. What better time to learn about how a crisis affects fundamental principles of economics, including supply & demand, consumer decision-making, business competition, government intervention, and financial markets? Now, more than ever, it is important to understand how economic systems work and how they affect our quality of life. Even if you just want to know where the frozen pizza went, be sure to check out the JA Mini Economics website today!

The New JA Virtual Career Speaker Series

Junior Achievement of Central Illinois is proud to announce the launch of our JA Virtual Career Speaker Series. We are taking advantage of our current predicament to create and distribute digital career stories from our volunteers, and we have been excited to collaborate with several local companies in order to best serve our students and teachers during this challenging time. So far, we are partnering with teachers to provide this program for 25 classes and are impacting 630 students through this resource. We are happy to provide this program to our teachers, and it is not too late to sign up! Interested middle or high school teachers should contact Angie Houck at angie.houck@ja.org for more information.

JA of Central Illinois Statement on the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

UPDATED 4/1/2020 3:45 PM

Junior Achievement’s response to the COVID-19 virus

Dear Junior Achievement of Central Illinois Teachers, Volunteers, Partners & Supporters,

Junior Achievement of Central Illinois has been carefully monitoring COVID-19 developments and consulting with health experts, schools, and community partners. As always, our top priority is the safety and well-being of our students, volunteers, partners, staff, and the greater communities we serve.

Gov. JB Pritzker announced  that all schools in Illinois are to transition to e-learning Tuesday, March 17, 2020, through April 30, 2020, due to the spread of COVID-19. 

As a result, the following changes will be implemented effective Tuesday, March 17 and through April 30:

  • All in-person and volunteer-driven Junior Achievement programming in schools or in after-school settings will be postponed, or delivered virtually.
  • Junior Achievement will work with teachers to support the delivery of JA programs and use of self-directed resources through e-learning wherever possible.
  • Non-programmatic events (e.g. fundraisers, meetings, workshops, etc.) will be conducted virtually or rescheduled.

We will continue to monitor the ever-evolving situation and provide updates on the status of JA program implementation for when school resumes.  Options may include but are not limited to remote delivery of JA programs by the volunteer or teacher delivery of JA programs that have been scheduled or begun but have not completed. Learning resources can be found online here and are continually updated.

In the meantime, please do not hesitate to reach out with questions, concerns, or ideas.  It won’t be “business as usual” for a while, but we are no less committed to our mission and the students we inspire, and we know you are, too.  Your continued support is appreciated and valued.

Stay safe and healthy!

Mary Pille,


2020 Central Illinois Business Hall of Fame - Thank You for Helping Us Set a Fundraising Record!

Pictured: L to R - Drew Monkemeyer, Avery Fleming, Evan Sary, Paul Thompson all of Concordia Lutheran School at the 2020 Central Illinois Business Hall of Fame

Pictured L to R: JA Volunteer of the Year - Josh Riekena - President & Owner, Riekena Financial Inc. & Josh Riekena COUNTRY® Financial and JA Teacher of the Year - Jennifer Rozboril - Franklin Primary School, Peoria Public Schools

Junior Achievement of Central Illinois staff, Board of Directors and Hall of Fame Classroom Campaign Cabinet members extend our sincere gratitude to the supporters of our recent Central Illinois Business Hall of Fame event. The Laureate Induction Ceremony held March 5th at the Peoria Marriott Pere Marquette included more than 440 guests and raised a RECORD SETTING $281,000 in funds that will support more than 8,800 local JA students!

The event began by honoring our JA Volunteer of the Year - Josh Riekena, President & Owner, Riekena Financial Inc. & Josh Riekena COUNTRY® Financial, along with JA Teacher of the Year - Jennifer Rozboril, Franklin Primary School teacher with Peoria Public Schools and JA Centennial Award Winner - Brian May, Managing Director, Industrial North America, Accenture & long-time JA of Central Illinois Governing Board Director.

The event also recognized four well-deserved business leaders – Diana Hall, President - Bard Optical, Gordon Honegger, Chairman Emeritus, Co-Chairman & Jean Ann Honegger, Co-CEO / Group President, Vice Chairman - Hometown Community Bancorp, Phil Kuhl, Founder / Retired CEO - Kuhl Insurance who were inducted into our Central Illinois JA Business Hall of Fame.  To learn more about the JA Central Illinois Business Hall of Fame, visit the Hall of Fame website.

Meet the Laureates 2020: Diana Hall

Diana Hall

President, Bard Optical

Diana J. Hall was born in Peoria, Illinois, to Clayburn and Betty Barnett.  Diana was the oldest of four children.  She was proudly raised on Trewyn Street on Peoria’s South Side and graduated from Manual High School.  As a teenager, Diana began working at Weisser Jewelry and Optical in downtown Peoria to make some extra money.  Although she graduated in the top ten of her class in 1966, her parents did not have enough money to send her to college.  She opted instead to continue working at Weisser.
Diana married shortly after graduation from high school and welcomed two children in the next four years.  In order to make ends meet for her young family, she worked as many hours as possible at Weisser. A few years later she moved her family to a shared farm outside Canton where she built a home just a few hundred yards from the home built by her parents.  Eventually she got divorced but continued to live on the farm with her children as she took on more and more responsibility at Weisser.  
By 1981, Diana was the General Manager at Weisser overseeing the entire company that had 65 locations throughout Illinois.  That summer the owner of Weisser asked Diana to lie about an important issue on his behalf.  Given her high ethical standards, she refused, and it is her belief she was fired due to that refusal.  That same day she went to see Dr. A. Arthur Bard, who had been in practice for 40 years.  Within a few weeks she and two partners purchased Dr Bard’s sole location in the Metro Centre.  After buying out her partners, she continued to grow the business which now has approximately 200 employees with 21 retail offices, a Peoria home office and a full-service laboratory also in Peoria.  Through recessions and increased competition, Diana has expertly guided the company to revenue growth in each and every year since purchasing the company in 1981.  Over the past 50 years Diana has become a powerful voice in the retail optical industry having been recognized by Vision Monday as one of the 20 Most Influential Women in the industry.  She is often asked to comment for articles about the optical industry at the national level.  Bard Optical is currently ranked #35 in the top 50 retail optical chains in the United States.
Diana is famous for continuing to work far more than 40 hours per week even when she says she is  “starting to slow down.”   Diana enjoys spending time hunting for bargains for her DIY projects as well as time with her friends, affectionately known as “The Assets.”  Diana has two children; Mick Hall, a former trial attorney and now Vice President and General Counsel at Bard Optical, and Kim Malone, a teacher at Canton High School and herself a DIY project expert.   Diana has eleven grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.  She continues to put family first and never misses an opportunity to get together with family for her homemade chicken noodles and mashed potatoes.  

Meet the Laureates 2020: Phil Kuhl

Phil Kuhl was born in Miles IA, a community of 350, in 1940. He has 6 younger sisters, all of whom lived in a very modest 3 bedroom home. At age 4, he started 1st grade as his father had joined the Navy where he served in the Pacific during WWII. Graduating from a small school in 1957 at age 16, he left Miles Iowa to attend Loras College in Dubuqe IA.

Phil’s work career began as a paper boy for the Des Moines Register, a route he worked until graduation from high school in 1957. Much of his basic business training came from serving those customers as well as working in the family grocery / general store.

In 1961, Phil married the love of his life, Barbara. They have 3 children; JoDee, Kari, and Mike. The joy of their lives today are their 5 grandchildren. Emma Zern, a recent graduate from Northern Iowa; Pete Kuhl, senior at the University of Wisconsin; Jack Zern, a senior at University of Dayton; Tommy Kuhl, a sophomore at the University of Illinois; and Joe Zern, a freshman at the University of Dayton.

His 7 year college path was irregular at best. Starting at age 16, getting married at age 20, and needing to pay for his own education all contributed to a complex educational experience. However, a desire to become a JC Penney Manager drew him back to college to pursue that path. At age 27, that path took a different direction when he took a sales position with Employers Insurance of Wausau in Peoria working in the Commercial Casualty Insurance field.

After 7 years, he left that company for a brief stay as a self-employed "broker" associated with the JL Hubbard Company out of Decatur. That company was sold, leaving Phil without a job in 1979. It was then he started Kuhl Insurance (Kuhl & Company) in Morton.

Kuhl Insurance barely survived through the early 1980s as the local economy was under extreme stress. Those lessons learned during those difficult times provided a great platform to grow and prosper into the great company they are today.

Personally, Phil is a servant leader who cares deeply about his employees, his customers, and the community. He has served on several boards but is most proud of getting the Morton Community Foundation started. Other strong community interests include serving on the Board of the Illinois Central College Educational Foundation, starting the Central Illinois Banjo Club, formation of the Morton Fine Arts Association, Morton Chamber of Commerce, and EDC. Phil loves to play the banjo, play golf with friends, and spend time at their lake home. Mostly he enjoys spending time with his grandchildren. Retired today, he spends the winter months at their home at The Villages, FL.

Join us March 5th as we honor Phil and several other outstanding honorees at the Central Illinois Business Hall of Fame Laureate Induction Ceremony!

Click here to visit the Central Illinois Business Hall of Fame Website

Meet the Laureates 2020: Gordon and Jean Ann Honegger


Gordon Honegger - Chairman Emeritus of Morton Community Bank and Co-Chairman of Hometown Community Bancorp

Jean Ann Honegger - Co-CEO/Group President of Morton Community Bank and Vice Chairman of Hometown Community Bancorp

Gordon and Jean Ann Honegger have known each other almost their entire lives, having grown up together in the town of Forrest, Illinois.  Gordon’s family operated a large chicken hatchery and multi-state animal feed company.  Jean Ann’s family ran a custard stand and dime store.  Each of them was actively involved in these family businesses and learned first-hand the effort required to be a business owner and operator.

Gordon and Jean Ann attended the same grade school and high school together, two classes apart.  Gordon earned his undergraduate business degree at the University of Illinois, then his MBA at Northwestern University, and finally his Doctorate in agricultural economics at Purdue University.  Jean Ann earned her undergraduate degree in education from Illinois State University, and her Master’s degree in HR from Purdue University.

Gordon became President of Morton Community Bank in 1973 when the Bank was a just over 10 years old and had $7 million in assets and seven employees.  Jean Ann then joined the Bank when their children, Andy and Molly, were old enough to go to school.  Since that time, the Bank has pursued a successful growth strategy, and together they have grown the Bank to its present size of $4.1 billion in assets, with 43 branches and almost 500 employees.

Morton Community Bank prides itself on its employee ownership and community involvement.  Through the Bank’s Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), all employees have ownership in the Bank and, therefore, take an ownership-style responsibility over all aspects of their work and their interactions with customers and co-workers.  Like owners should, Bank employees are actively involved in the community, always trying to make our communities better for the people around us.

Today, driven by their passion for helping entrepreneurs succeed, Gordon and Jean Ann continue to work at the Bank every day, with Andy now serving as the Bank’s President.  Gordon and Jean Ann are also enjoying their opportunities to continue to pursue their lifelong love of travel, and frequently vacation with Andy and Molly and their families.

Join us March 5th as we honor Gordon, Jean Ann, and several other outstanding honorees at the Central Illinois Business Hall of Fame Laureate Induction Ceremony!

Click here to visit the Central Illinois Business Hall of Fame Website

JA Pathways Programs

This fall, Junior Achievement introduced our new pathways approach, moving beyond programs at the individual grade level to envision the journey of a student throughout their educational career. Navigate through the pathways by clicking on each description to learn about the needs in our community and how pathway programs fulfill students' journeys.

Work & Career Readiness


Financial Literacy




 JA Semester-Long High School Courses

In conjunction with this effort, new teacher-led, semester-long, experiential programs were released to help re-engineer high school education to be more relevant, experiential, and authentically-connected to the complexities of the real world.

View the Scope and Sequence of Programs Here


JA honors Hall of Fame Laureates for their leadership and success in business, and community involvement.

On March 5, 2020 Junior Achievement of Central Illinois will be inducting this year’s Laureates into the Central Illinois Business Hall of Fame in an elegant evening at the historic, Peoria Marriott Pere Marquette.  The evening begins with a 1-hour cocktail reception followed by a 4-course dinner featuring select wines and laureate induction ceremony into the Central Illinois Business Hall of Fame. In addition, we will announce the JA volunteer of the Year and JA Teacher of the Year.  An estimated 440 community business leaders, distinguished citizens and past laureate winners will attend this night of fun and celebration.

Laureate induction into the Central Illinois Business Hall of Fame is a lifetime achievement award for individuals who have made a major, positive impact on the Central Illinois Region. Inductees have consistently demonstrated throughout their professional lives:

  • Business Excellence
  • Visionary, Innovative Leadership with Longstanding and/or Contemporary Accomplishments
  • Community Involvement
  • Entrepreneurial Spirit
  • High Moral and Ethical Principles

Through these accomplishments, Laureates serve as role models for other businesses and the next generation of business leaders, many of who are currently Junior Achievement students.

For more information on these honorees and this prestigious event, visit 2020 Central Illinois Business Hall of Fame or contact Heather Sexton at heather.sexton@ja.org or 309-682-1800 ext. 106.

Thank you for helping make the Imagine the Future – JA Breakfast a success!


Left to Right: Sam Alvarado, Curriculum Director, Peoria Heights Grade School, Braylinn Ramsey, 5th Grade JA Student, Peoria Heights Grade School, Sylvia Thornton, 5th Grade JA Student, Peoria Heights Grade School, Cassidy Miles-Coleman, Junior, JA & AppsCo Student, Richwoods High School, Ayden Painter, 5th Grade JA Student, Peoria Heights Grade School, Kari Tangel, Teacher, Peoria Heights Grade School - event chair, Crew Shaver, 5th Grade JA Student, Peoria Heights Grade School, Larry Tangel, Owner, Enercon Engineering – event chair

JA brought the Imagine the Future – JA Breakfast to life and used it as a platform to move recent community discussions about specific unmet needs to the next level.  Suggestions of potential answers to these concerns and issues were centered on exactly what JA provides through their classroom-based programs.  As a result, JA of Central IL brought together dedicated members of our business and civic community to hear amazing success stories, experiences and newly-found aspirations from students, educators and ambassadors for Junior Achievement of Central Illinois local programs.

Following a delicious breakfast, students from the Greater Peoria area played a star-role in the 1-hour program.  Katrina Crawford and Aditi Tripathi, both Richwoods High School students and AppsCo participants, emceed the event while Concordia Lutheran School, Peoria Heights Grade School, Quest Charter Academy, Richwoods High School Band, and Washington Middle School (Dist. 52) students assisted with various components of the program.  Event co-chairs Larry and Kari Tangel provided comments on investing in the education of our future workforce while Dr. Susan Grzanich Innovation & Grants Officer Peoria Public Schools supported their statements by making remarks on the necessity of teaching students the importance of being prepared to enter the workforce and manage personal finances in order to live successful lives as adults.

Thank you to the attendees who celebrated with us at the Imagine the Future – JA Breakfast on November 20th in downtown Peoria at The Warehouse on State.

SPECIAL THANKS TO AppsCo, Alexis Khazzam & Brian Michael, Beth Crider, Black Business Alliance - Peoria Chapter, Blake Barnard, Concordia Lutheran School, Cracked Pepper Catering, Dr. Susan Grzanich, East Peoria Chamber of Commerce, Greater Peoria EDC, JA Governing & JA Advisory Boards, Jake Hamman, Jason & Shannon Killion, Jim Mathis, Joe Adams, Larry & Kari Tangel, Mark Schatsiek, Mimi Volmar, Minority Business Development Center, Morton Chamber of Commerce & EDC, Pekin Chamber of Commerce, Peoria Area CVB, Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce & CEO Council, Peoria Heights Chamber of Commerce, Peoria Heights Grade School, Peoria Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Peoria Public Schools, Quest Charter Academy Middle School, Richwoods High School Band & Christopher Render, Sylvia & Ron Hasinger, The Warehouse on State, Travis & Christa Mohlenbrink, Washington Chamber of Commerce, Washington Middle School, District 52 & Julie Donnell

Imagine the Future!

Imagine the Future - JA Breakfast | November 20th, 7:30 - 9:00 am at The Warehouse on State | 736 SW Washington St, Peoria, IL 61602

RSVP is required by November 12th. This event is FREE to attend. Email heather.sexton@ja.org or (309) 682-1800 ext. 106

Learn how Junior Achievement (JA) has what it takes to be the solution for unmet needs in this community by empowering our local students!

Imagine the future….
• What if we leaned in on teaching students how to budget and manage money starting as early as kindergarten?
• What if students could begin exploring careers in elementary school with hands-on experiences?
• What if students learned why essential skills are so important through real people working in diverse occupations and industries?
• What if we could help a child go from “I can’t” to “I CAN!”?
We are turning these aspirations into reality with every student impacted through JA programs - DELIVERED BY REAL PEOPLE.

Join us to hear firsthand stories about the positive impact our programs have on the lives of young people from students, teachers and JA ambassadors. This event is free to attend but we could use your support! As much as anything else, we want you to hear about the inspiring work that Junior Achievement brings to our community. These are exciting times at JA and we want you to be part of our future!

RSVP to heather.sexton@ja.org or (309) 682-1800 ext. 106

JA Company Program at Tri-Valley High School

JA Company Program® at Tri-Valley High School

The JA Company Program gives students the chance to put ideas into action by creating and running their own startup. With the help of a student group and volunteer mentors, students will create, manage, and liquidate a business in 13 weeks. Any student at Tri-Valley High School can register for this free entrepreneurial after-school program. Capacity will be limited to 25 participants.

In JA Company Program, students will not only learn how to run a business, but will also meet new friends, connect with mentors, network with professionals and gain the skills and experience to help land their first job.

An information session will be held November 13th, 2019 for interested parents/guardians and students. You can sign up to attend here: http://bit.ly/TriValleyInfoMtg

Through JA Company Program®, we were able to learn from each other, teach each other, and most importantly, build something we all cared about." - Maddie, High School Junior

Presented By State Farm® and Chris Mizell STATE FARM® INSURANCE AGENT, BLOOMINGTON, IL
with help from

Sean Dardis, Business Development Officer, First State Bank

Sara Dardis, Owner/Dentist , Pediatric Smiles

Jake Davis, CMO/Co Owner, Mavidea

Nate Hinch, Attorney/Partner, Mueller, Reece & Hinch, LLC

Cheryl Magnuson, Owner, Majestic Interior Design, Inc

Charlie Moore, President & CEO, McLean County Chamber of Commerce

Josh Mosier, Owner, Weber Electric

Tim Norman, Owner, STL

Chad Ritchie, Attorney/Owner, Ritchie Law Firm

Andy Shirk, President, BEER NUTS®

Matt Streenz, Operations Manager, ZDI/Room Ready

Steve Timmerman, Vice President, First Farmers State Bank



Have you volunteered for Junior Achievement? Are you an educator who has welcomed Junior Achievement programs into your classroom? We have a special “Thank You” for your support!

National University System (NUS) is committed to providing affordable, accessible education and professional development opportunities to lifelong learners. In partnership with Junior Achievement, NUS is offering a special tuition rate of $4,999 per year to qualified JA teachers and volunteers for over 100 degree programs available online.

NUS is a network of accredited nonprofit universities serving over 45,000 adult learners nationally. As a JA teacher or volunteer, you have the opportunity to pursue your educational and career goals by enrolling at National University, John F. Kennedy University, or City University of Seattle.

Thank you for all you do for Junior Achievement! To learn more about this opportunity and to see if you qualify, visit: https://www.nusystem.org/PARTNERSHIP/JA/

Cheers to Achievement Celebration & Annual Meeting

You and a guest are invited to
Junior Achievement's free celebration event

Cheers to Achievement

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

4:30 - 6:30 PM - WTVP Studio 101 State Street, Peoria

Refreshments & Light Hor D'oeuvres

by Cracked Pepper Catering & Industry Brewing

Brief Program at 5:15 PM

Join us behind the scenes at WTVP Studios for an exclusive screening of the documentary

Made Possible: The Business of Junior Achievement, featuring alumni such as Mark Cuban

Please RSVP for this free event by Monday, September 16th

RSVP HERE OR EMAIL sally.eastman@ja.org



Guest Speakers

Beth Crider, Regional Superintendent, Peoria County Regional Office of Education

JA Volunteer of the Year, Jim Farrell

Washington Community High School Student, Aidan Bosley

UPS Brings JA to Franklin Primary School

Thanks to a grant from the UPS Foundation, 164 children were able to experience Junior Achievement programs at Franklin Primary School in Peoria over the last school year!  JA Our Region® was one of the grant funded programs.  Franklin fourth grade students learned about entrepreneurship and how entrepreneurs use resources to produce goods and services in a region.  JA Volunteer Mary Schmidt, Global Aftermarket, Marketing, & Brand, Caterpillar, loves how the children enjoy the games and other hands-on activities in JA Our Region!  “For me, the part that really seems to get the lightbulbs going and excitement building is when we talk about innovation and entrepreneurs.  Kids are all about the games and also very competitive.  They really enjoy the hotdog stand game and the ability to discuss the concepts in the game and how a business owner that we mentioned in the first week would have similar challenges,” she commented.

Junior Achievement receives $10,000 Bayer Fund grant for Experiential Career Exploration

Employees from the Bayer Mason City Site recommended Junior Achievement of Central Illinois to receive a $10,000 grant from Bayer Fund. Funds from the grant will be used to provide a hands-on curriculum and career expo experience for eighth graders. In partnership with local schools, students will examine personal skills and interests as they relate to careers, identify careers of specific interest, and be introduced to local employers through GP CareerSpark in partnership with the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council.

“Junior Achievement is so thankful of Bayer’s investment in our future workforce,” said Mary Pille, President at Junior Achievement of Central Illinois. “Through this project, 8th graders will have a hands-on experience that equips them with the tools and knowledge to make the most of their education as they prepare for their future careers.”

This will be the second year Junior Achievement has received a Bayer Fund grant to support career exploration and this partnership will continue that impact.

“We are focused on improving lives in the communities where we operate.  The Bayer Fund allows us to partner with organizations in the community to achieve that mission.  Supporting education opportunities within our local area allows us to educate students on the career opportunities that are available here in their own community,” said Anna Jahnsen, Site Lead at Mason City & Stonington, IL. “We’re happy to support Junior Achievement with this Bayer Fund grant and look forward to participating in the Career Spark event, where we will be volunteering our time and sharing with students the work that we do here at Bayer to produce high quality seed for farmers.”

In 2019, Bayer Fund awarded more than $1.4 million through this program to nonprofit organizations in rural communities to help address essential needs in Food & Nutrition, STEM Education, and Community Development. Nonprofit organizations across the U.S. have received more than $7 million through this program over the last five years.

Junior Achievement of Central Illinois Integration with AssureSign

                Junior Achievement of Central Illinois is dependent on community volunteers to serve as mentors, providing inspiration and preparing kids to succeed. During the 2018-19 school year, our student impact has reached nearly 18,000 students delivered by over 600 volunteers. In an effort to continue expanding our volunteer base to meet the ever-growing demands for Junior Achievement programming in our local communities, JA of Central Illinois is partnering with AssureSign to provide streamlined documentation management and best practices which will allow us to continue providing efficient and effective responses to our volunteers.

                In compliance with Junior Achievement’s existing volunteer conduct standards, volunteers are required to provide written consent of their agreement to the JA terms and conditions prior to their involvement in the classroom. As the program grows, paperwork and manual process tracking has become increasingly difficult and storage space is limited. As our student impact expands, we are constantly looking for ways to improve our best practices and make our systems scalable. As we look for sustainable processes and efficient document retention practices, AssureSign enables the ability to create and execute a secure and seamless electronic signature experience. With eSignature, the portal can now satisfy the end to end process, thereby allocating more time and funding to serving our community and providing more learning opportunities for our Central Illinois students, making this change a worthwhile investment.

Showing 1 - 20 of 41 results.
Items per Page 20
of 3

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

Get Involved!

Junior Achievement
of Central Illinois

Donate Now    Volunteer    Request a