Our History

Junior Achievement was co-founded in 1919 by Horace Moses, president of Strathmore Paper Co. and Theodore Vail, president of American Telephone and Telegraph. The principles expressed in the words of Mr. Vail served as the framework for JA's charter:

"Our nation's future depends upon making every individual young and old, fully realize the obligations and responsibilities belonging to citizenship.  That being said, habits are formed in youth and we have the responsibility to teach the growing generations to realize that thrift and economy, coupled with industry, are necessary."

In 1943, Junior Achievement in St. Louis began through the vision of local business leaders Robert L. Lund, President of Lambert Pharmaceutical, and Herman F. Spoehrer, President of Sporlan Valve Co.  They soon hired the first Executive Director Bud Schwenk former All-American and Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Colts pro-quarterback.  Bud's high profile and sound leadership established the St. Louis chapter as the nation's largest and finest operation.

Following Schwenk's death in 1980, staff protégé Terence Jarchow took the helm and led the chapter through its most significant and transitional growth years. Through Terry's leadership, JA retained its place as a model for the nation.

Today, JA services numerous counties in East-Central Missouri and Southwestern Illinois.  Fulfilling a need of business and education, Junior Achievement offers K-12 programs through multiple venues from classrooms to the Dennis and Judy Jones Free Enterprise Center.  Delivered by thousands of volunteers JA programs annually enrich the lives hundreds of thousands of students throughout Missouri and Illinois. Children involved in Junior Achievement programs, have the opportunity to experience the American economic system.  Through activity-based lessons, they experience the relevance of day-to-day learning to future career opportunities and life.

Independent studies have shown that students who participate in Junior Achievement are less likely to drop out of school, they are more workforce-ready upon graduation and experience improved test scores. Junior Achievement will continue to evolve and meet the education needs of our youth and nation.  In doing so, it will never lose sight of the heritage of Junior Achievement and our country.