Current Events | JA In The News | Junior Achievement USA

Jim Sweeny Honored by Princeton University

Hugh B. “Jim” Sweeny, Jr., with Princeton University President Shirley M. Tilghman.

Hugh B. “Jim” Sweeny, Jr., with Princeton University President Shirley M. Tilghman

Jim Sweeny-Princeton Alumnus Honoree

Hugh B. “Jim” Sweeny, Jr. served Junior Achievement for more than 32 years, including many years as National Program Director. During his tenure, Sweeny managed and expanded the National Junior Achievers Conference (NAJAC) from 60 participants in 1948 to more than 3,000 delegates in 1977. 

On June 1, 2013, Jim was honored as the oldest living member (98 years old) of the oldest graduating class (1935) at the annual Princeton University Alumni celebration. At a special Old Guard luncheon hosted by dignitaries of the University, Jim was awarded membership in the Society of the Claw, which bestows upon the recipient a Claw cane dating back to 1863. Watch a video of the award ceremony and his speech by clicking here.

Claw cane in tow, Jim led a parade (P-rade) before 25,000 eager Princeton graduates and their supporters. The roar of the crowd cheering him on was deafening (no exaggeration) as he was driven through the mile-long parade route to the stadium. What an honor! Congratulations, Jim!

Jim & Johnny waiting to lead the P-rade at the annual Princeton University Alumni celebration on June 1, 2013.

Jim & Johnny waiting to lead the P-rade at the annual Princeton University Alumni celebration on June 1, 2013

1942-45: The War Years

The youth power was an asset which could be harnessed to the war effort. After all, JA had the skills, the tools, the machinery, the motivation, and the youth. All Junior Achievement had to do was match these assets up with the need. So JA companies "went to war" and produced many different parts according to specifications of local plants.

In Chicago, the enterprising JA companies got a contract to manufacture 10,000 pants hangers for the Army. They earned not only a decent profit, but a lot of publicity as well. In Pittsburgh, an asbestos-lined box for carting off incendiary bombs was approved by the Civil Defense and sold locally. There was also the manufacture of baby incubators. The adult companies making these incubators were into war products and had reduced the production, causing a shortage. With the help of medical authorities, a wooden incubator was designed and approved. Yet another JA company located an abandoned locomotive and obtained permission to go into the scrap metal business. They used acetylene torches to cut it apart for badly needed scrap iron.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur on a JA tour of duty

The shortage of many items provided all sorts of opportunities for Achievers with ingenuity to find new and different products. This provided an incentive to many teenagers and probably had much to do with the fact that Achiever membership during the war years remained relatively high.

Click the link below to read more about Junior Achievement during World War II from the book, "Junior Achievement A History," by Joseph J. Francomano.

1942-45 The War Years

Class Letter

Hello everyone! I am Tommy Chavez, and I am a soldier in the Army. I am in Afghanistan right now with my team helping the doctors to fix the people that get hurt. Sometimes they are young kids like you. Today there was a little boy that broke his leg, and the Doctors had to fix it so he can play soccer, run and ride his bike again. He has a cast on right now, and hopefully he will be walking again soon.

I like  being a soldier. It is the best job out there. They let us have PT every morning, which is like recess, we get to run and play and get in shape. We are also Airborne Paratroopers, which means we get to jump of Airplanes. Ask your teacher or parents to show you a video of it because it is pretty awesome.

I hope that you all have having a good school year, because I know that summer is close.  I am sure everyone is ready for summer time.

Well everyone, I have to go. Take care and hope to hear from you soon!

Tommy and the 759th Forward Surgical Team


Team C2


LOCATION:  Junior Achievement of Chicago

Has the team had to overcome any obstacles to be successful and get to the national competition?

I think the biggest obstacle for this team was the fact that this is the very first year that JA Company Program was implemented at our school, so the learning curve for both the students and myself was tremendous.  We set our goal (Mandy Austin, our local representative, Harry Bond, our JA Volunteer, and myself) to pilot this program as an in-school program at our Career Center to demonstrate the learning potential for not just our school, but for the sixteen regional high schools that fed into our Career Center.  Mandy and Harry had the goal of bringing the program to additional schools, and involving more businesses in our area in the future, so the expectations were very high for the small group of students piloting the program this year.  Since I had never done the program before, it was a “learn as you go” and the students were faced with very real "on the job training".  There were weeks where the structure we planned was totally redone as we learned a better, more effective way to teach the concepts while still meeting the JA schedule structure for the program.

Since we are a regional career center, students involved in this company did NOT attend the same high school, nor would they have the opportunity to meet after school to run this company.  The company was small -- only 10 employees total – and the students represented 6 different schools from three different counties.  They came from multiple ethnic, financial and cultural backgrounds, coming together for two hours per day in a blended setting.  Geographically, they were 20-40 miles apart, with different district schedules.  This meant that all of the production, marketing, financials and report writing had to occur during regular class time and work around the schedules of multiple school districts that were not the same.  This meant an extreme amount of shared responsibilities of management and production departments.  One of the special things about this team is the fact that under normal circumstances, these students would be unlikely to ever meet, let alone work on a project of this magnitude together.  They truly represent real miniature business, and the student gain significant insight into how they will need to work with people who come from very diverse backgrounds and with very different talents and personalities in business.

Have the teams faced any significant hurdles that they had to work together to problem-solve as a team?

This team did 100 percent of production in class for their product.  They learned every step of the production process and developed an organized system of assembly, quality control and customization to keep track of their inventory.  The product sold easily and quickly and one of their biggest hurdles was dealing with the sheer volume of custom orders and how to keep track of when the orders were needed by, whether the customer had paid or not, and who sold it and actually produced it.  They quickly developed a custom order form to track colors, covers, customization and quality control.  Their vice president of production spent much of his time learning a database system to track everything from order date to product number.  This taught them the importance of detail in the paperwork they did.  The experienced lost paperwork, incomplete paperwork and ultimately made a company decision to sacrifice individual commissions for about $85 in sales because they could not reproduce accurate records that matched sold product numbers with sales slips for their first week of sales.

Their other big problem-solving situation was determining how to split their net profit between the shareholders and their donation.  At the point they had to make that decision, they had learned the importance of their board meetings in enabling every person to have a voice in the decision making process.  It was a joy to watch them present the issue, discuss all the options, respect each others' opinions, and reach a consensus in an organized meeting.

Do the teams have an innovative, original product that they will be showcasing at the JA Company of the Year competition?

Their product was small, but proved to be extremely versatile.  It was an adaption to a product seen in a fundraiser catalog, and they changed its features to allow it to match their mission of customizing their communities.  They wanted to offer a product that really allowed for customization and that related to the individuality of their customers.  They were proud of their "clip-its" and ultimately learned the real meaning of market segments, discovering they had a great deal more customers than they originally thought.  They also realized the meaning of providing value through their donation.  Being able to market their product with the added benefit of donating a portion of the profits to a local charity dramatically increased their sales.  A 100-page, circular notepad that can clip onto a purse or be used as a child's doodle pad on a long car trip was a simple idea that turned out to have much more appeal that they thought.

Do you know of any personal stories from the students that you think are compelling that they would be willing to share?

This is perhaps the most amazing thing about this team.  A small group of students who set out to make an impact learned so much about themselves in the process – their ability to make a difference, learn about each other and experience "walking a mile in someone else's shoes."  The students always wanted to donate a portion of their profits and searched for the right organization.  They discussed the usual charities, and because it was October, considered donating to Breast Cancer awareness.  One of the students shared a very personal story about domestic violence and an organization that offered shelter to victims of that violence.  She asked the students to consider giving back to that organization, because she had first-hand knowledge about the positive impact of their services.  Most of the students had no idea about what the organization did or even what the term "domestic violence" really represents.  It was an educational experience for them, and they felt they could really make a difference locally by choosing this organization.  So the student that suggested the organization, the president and vice president of public relations attended a Harbor House Board meeting and shared their story and desire to donate to the organization.  I asked the student, Megan, and her mother if they were willing to share their story, and Megan typed her personal story for you below.  It is an example of how a student went full circle from a victim to a survivor to someone who now feels a sense of duty to continue the work of an organization that made a difference in her family.

Other personal stories also exist with this group – tremendous success at the local, regional and national level as a first year program, a JA Volunteer who was part of a JA Company when he was in high school 40 years ago, extreme diversity in a very small company, creative thinking and real teamwork. I saw the benefits of this JA program first hand in a very small group of students and have become a huge advocate of what these young people experience and the amount of pride they take in sharing that knowledge.

Insight from a C2 Team Member: Megan Pilbeam

When I was younger, I went through things that children at such a young age shouldn’t go through or even witness. I lived in an abusive home and, though the abuse was aimed more toward my mother, my sister and I still saw it every day. We were afraid to do or ask for anything. Living in fear like that can really damage a person, especially the mind of a child. Fortunately, my family got out of that situation with a lot of help from Harbor House. Harbor House is a domestic violence shelter close to where I live. They provided my family with counseling, clothing, food and shelter. Though we didn’t stay at Harbor House long, we still got treated like family. I was young when I went, but I can still remember the help we received. That’s something I’ll never forget. My mom was a member with Harbor House for two years. My sister and I got to attend many events held there, but the one I remember most was a Halloween party. My sister was dressed as a pumpkin and I was a Dalmatian. At that party, I saw the smiles on my mom and sister’s faces and that alone let me know that everything from there on out was going to be okay.

As I got older and understood more about what Harbor House is and does, I made a promise to myself that I would do the best I can to, in my own way, help out. I know what it’s like to be in a position to have to go to Harbor House. I wanted other people there to know that they weren’t alone. I’ve been lucky enough to have the chance to do a lot for Harbor House. I’ve donated lots of clothes there. I even participated in the “Telephone Tuesday” project at my school. When we started the JA Company Program and I found out that we could pick a charity to donate any extra profit to I immediately requested Harbor House. Being the Marketing Vice President, I also made sales goals for our company that would exceed the break-even point so Harbor House could get a donation from us. In the end, we were able to donate $202.10 to Harbor House. Giving them the check was the most exhilarating moment in my life, and I can only thank Junior Achievement for allowing me to do so.

-Megan Pilbeam

Team Made by U.S.

TEAM: Made by U.S. Students

LOCATION: Junior Achievement of Georgia- Atlanta District

Have the teams faced any significant hurdles that they had to work together to problem-solve as a team?

In the team’s effort to expose the community to their product, they faced adversity as other established businesses challenged their level of proficiency based on the students’ age. The team collectively overcame this hurdle through demonstrating a strong sense of professionalism and continuing to produce quality products which helped maintain favorable reception by the general public.

Do the teams have an innovative, original product that they will be showcasing at the JA Company of the Year competition?

Yes. The team created personally customized magnets and album beverage coasters using recycled albums to create a vintage look and feel.

Team Made by U.S. prepares for a big day on Capitol Hill to display its project at the JA Company of the Year Competition.

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