Our History

The History of Junior Achievement of Eastern Iowa
In 1919, Junior Achievement was founded as a collection of after-school business clubs for high school students in Springfield, Massachusetts. The consensus was that Junior Achievement was right for the times.

On July 1, 2005, the time was right to make a significant change and integrate Junior Achievement of East Central Iowa, Inc. and Junior Achievement of Black Hawk Land, Inc. This exciting integration created region-wide synergy resulting in efficient program delivery to more students, expanded fundraising, board and staff development opportunities and overall growth.

The History of Junior Achievement in the Cedar Rapids Area
In the early 1970's in a back-room meeting at the Elks club, the destiny of Junior Achievement in Cedar Rapids, Iowa hung in the balance. Wayne Engle, a local businessman was asked to join three Junior Achievement board members for lunch to discuss the program. Junior Achievement was at a turning point and there was serious consideration given to shutting the program down and starting it up again in a few years. Engle felt that if it were shut down, the likelihood of a future start up was bleak.

His experience in business and community involvement earned him the respect of the Junior Achievement board members and after much discussion it was decided that Engle would serve as chairman. The program would be continued for one year and then re-evaluated. Over time, Engle and other board members such as Bob Verhille, Al Williams, Dave Hughes, Scott Olson and many more set the footings for what Junior Achievement in the Cedar Rapids Area is today!

The History of Junior Achievement in the Cedar Valley Area
In the 1970's, John Deere was active with Junior Achievement at all of its plant locations, especially the headquarters in Moline, IL. When executives discovered the Cedar Valley was the only metro area of more than 100,000 people in the country without a Junior Achievement program, they decided to do something about it.

Harold Brock worked for John Deere at the time, and was a member of the original Board of Directors. "Bob Giertz called together 100 of the business leaders in the community and presented the case for Junior Achievement," Brock explained. "We needed to raise $30,000 to start a Junior Achievement program, and knew it would not work without everyone's support."

With the support of the business community, Junior Achievement began as an after school program for high school students. Students would gather at the Black's building to form a company under the guidance of their volunteer business advisor.

Junior Achievement has changed a great deal over the years and the numbers of students served continues to increase each year. In 2008, Junior Achievement celebrated the 35th anniversary of serving students in the Cedar Valley and has steadily increased the number of students being educated on work readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy over the years! Currently, the Cedar Valley Area office is located in the Philanthropy Center of the US Bank Building, on 425 Cedar Street, Suite 320 in Waterloo.