Current Events | JA In The News | Junior Achievement USA

2018 National Student Leadership Summit

The Summit is Junior Achievement’s opportunity to celebrate the achievements of students from across the United States.

JA Companies develop and market a  product or service with the goal of realizing a profit for their shareholders. Reaching over 10,000 U.S. students during the 2016-17 school year, the JA Company Program gives teens the skills to start and run their own businesses under the mentorship of a local business volunteer.

This pinnacle event brings together 15 JA student companies to our nation's capital for three days of high-impact JA experiences.

The Summit features the JA Company of the Year powered by The Hartford, Delta Social Impact Award, the EY Innovation Award, the FedEx Access Award, and the ICE NYSE Foundation Best Financial Performance Award.


Junior Achievement is thankful for the generous support received to execute the 2018 National Student Leadership Summit. 

The 2018 National Student Leadership Summit was made possible by our sponsors -- The Hartford, Delta Air Lines, EY, FedEx, and the Intercontinental Exchange, which owns the New York Stock Exchange.

JA COMPANY OF THE YEAR, powered by The Hartford

The JA Company of the Year Award was determined by the competing JA Company's Report, Entrepreneurship Expo performance, company presentation,  team interview performance, and the JA Company commercial.

First Place: Beelieve Inc. - Junior Achievement of East Central Ohio

Second Place: DEFY - Junior Achievement of the Chisholm Trail

Third Place: Silicube - Junior Achievement of Northern California


Company of the Year First Place-- Beelieve






JA Company of the Year Winners Beelieve Inc.

company of the year second place








Second Place Winners, DEFY.

Company of the year third place







Third Place Winners, Silicube.


Awarded to recognize the best JA Company that provides a solution to a local, national, or global problem.

Five finalists were identified at the 2018 NSLS Gala including Beelieve, BlockchainGirls, DEFY, Grater Paper, and Solupal.

Out of the five finalists, Beelieve, representing Junior Achievement of East Central Ohio, took home the 2018 Delta Social Impact title and award.

delta social impact award to beelieve







To recognize the student company that has the most innovative product or service. 

BlockchainGirls, representing Junior Achievement of the Southern California, received the 2018 FedEx Access Award,

Five finalists for the 2018 EY Innovation Award included Beelieve, BlockchainGirls, DEFY, Grater Paper, and NuCool. Out of the five finalists running for the EY Innovation Award, DEFY, representing Junior Achievement of the Chisholm Trail, took home the 2018 award.

DEFY won the EY Innovation Award










JA student company recognized for exhibiting the principles of global connectivity.

BlockchainGirls, representing Junior Achievement of the Southern California, received the 2018 FedEx Access Award. 

Block Chain Girls won the FEDEX Access Award





Recognizing the JA Company that best encompasses several aspects of financial responsibility.

Five finalists for the 2018 Intercontinental Exchange -- New York Stock Exchange, for the Best Financial Performance Award, included Alchemy Apparel, Alpha Solutions, DEFY, Pocket Perks, and Zen5ations.

Out of the five finalists, Pocket Perks, representing Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest, took home the 2018 Best Financial Performance Award.

pocket perks









Awarded to an individual of JA Company for accomplishments in a role within a JA Company and entrepreneurial potential. 

Eric Lin, President of Grater Paper Enterprise, was awarded the Jim Sweeny Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence, which is provided by the JA Pioneers.

As a participant in JA programs for the past 5 years, Lin, a Junior Achievement of Southeast Texas student, received the $1,000 scholarship to go towards his continuation of education.

eric lin awarded jim sweeny award








Want to see more NSLS? Check out our JA Alumni Ambassador's video HERE

Financial Literacy & High Schoolers

What is financial literacy?

Research conducted by the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) found that one in five (22%) teenagers from the U.S. lack fundamental financial literacy skills. Basic skills that are included in financial literacy include the ability to budget, how to save, understanding the impact of credit and debt, investing to reach financial goals, and utilizing outlets like insurance companies in order to minimize future financial drains.

Why is financial literacy important for high schoolers?

While most high schoolers are not looking to invest their money for retirement, most high school students have or are experiencing part-time work, income and expenses, as well as setting future goals. At this stage in a teen’s life, it is crucial that they are looking towards financial goals they want to reach from higher education to a reliable car. With college around the corner, saving early will be a necessary step as well as understanding the process of taking out a loan. Students will also be expected to manage their money for the first time living on their own. As all of the responsibilities add up, it is crucial that high schoolers know how to manage their personal finances.

Teaching financial literacy to high schoolers

Teens know the financial responsibilities that lie ahead of them and they are eager to learn how they can manage all of them while attempting to do their own laundry. In fact, a study conducted on behalf of Junior Achievement and Ernst & Young LLP (EY) found 81% of teens would take a work/financial readiness class if it was offered to them. Which begs the question, how can you spark discussions with your students or child about preparing for their future.

Money Tools for….

 Parents and Teens at Home

  • Break out your family Monopoly board to help your teen get hands-on with saving, spending and investing concepts or Game of Life  to let them test-drive a career and make their own financial decisions!
  • Utilize the one thing that they ALWAYS have on them—their phone! Encourage your child to review their bank statements, explore options to start building their credit and seek out information about college loans.

 Teachers and High Schoolers in the Classroom


Financial Literacy & Middle Schoolers

Middle School Blog Infographic







What is Financial Literacy?

Financial literacy is the all-inclusive concept of budgeting, management of credit, understanding of saving, spending and earning. Essentially, financial literacy is everything that involves your financial health.

Yet, one can’t consider being literate in finance by being able to balance a checkbook or being hired. The fundamentals of financial literacy look at present needs, as well as building skills to achieve long-term financial goals. Which, in order to be proficient, money management skills need to be used every day.

So, why might your middle-schooler need to learn money skills now? Just like learning to ride a bike or understanding the fundamentals of geometry, practice makes perfect.

“We were not taught financial literacy in school,” said Businessman and author, Robert Kiyosaki. “It takes a lot of work and time to change your thinking and to become financially literate.”

The earlier children are taught financial concepts, the higher the chances of them being able to achieve  financial milestones, such as purchasing a car, saving for college, and buying a home.

While right now, your child probably isn’t thinking ahead to graduating high school and preparing for college or for their first car; there is an opportunity for educators and parents to assist youth in financial mindsets NOW so that they can be better prepare for what lies ahead.

Financial Literacy Concepts for 11 – 14-Year-Olds

USA Today reported, “kids ages 4 to 14 received an average $454 in allowance over the course of 2017…” This figure doesn’t include cash gifts for birthdays or holidays. In a span of six years, a 6th grader could accumulate at least $2,724 by the time he or she was graduating high school.

Middle schoolers can become more confident in their money management skills by setting up a bank account and making a budget outlining their financial goals for the next 5 years and longer. Some goals they should consider include the cost of their first car, gas money, entertainment, like going to the movies or eating out, and college tuition. Not only will this allow for youth to feel more in control of their future, but it also provides a learning opportunity for children, their parents, and teachers.

Money Tools for…

Parents & Kids at Home

  • Make it a board-game night! Break out your family Monopoly board to help your child get hands-on with saving, spending and investing concepts, or play the Game of Life to let them test drive a career and make their own financial decisions!
  • Consider having your child manage their money using a prepaid debit card or phone app.  These tools allow parents to track spending and help their child understand their expenses. Most apps provide money insights through their expense manager, budget tracker, and more!

Teachers & Students in the Classroom

  • Junior Achievement (JA) provides various programs to assist in the learning and development of financial literacy skills. The best part? We provide our accomplished volunteers with the training they need to make the biggest impact on students.
    • Programs like JA Finance Park are a great way to have your student learn personal finance, budgeting money management, including saving and spending, along with an understanding of financial institutions while on the go!
    •  JA Global Marketplace gives students insights into the key aspects of the global economy, world trade, and how trade impacts their daily lives.
    • Have your student(s) explore entrepreneurship, higher education and career options in JA It’s My Business!


Financial Literacy in Elementary School

What is financial literacy?

Financial literacy can be understood as the skillset or knowledge to manage monetary resources efficiently in order to accommodate one’s needs today and in the future. Some of the basic fundamentals that make up a financially literate individual include: the ability to budget, how to go about saving, the impact of credit and debt, investing towards one’s future, and the utilization of insurance in order to mitigate future road bumps that may detour an individual’s finances.

Why is Financial Literacy important for my Elementary Schooler?

As these concepts can be complex and traditionally focused towards adults, how might financial literacy be important to an 8 to 12-year-old? By starting conversations about various components of financial literacy early, children can be influenced to exhibit positive financial behaviors earlier in life and therefore be more prepared for what lies ahead in their future. In fact, research has shown that by age 12, children are able to use skills to resist impulsive spending strategies and understand critical concepts such as interest.

Financial Literacy Concepts for Elementary School-Aged Kids

During this stage in a child’s life, they are understanding that money is what provides a roof over their head, food on the table, and most importantly to them—their toys. 

Teaching Financial Literacy to Kids in Elementary School

When it comes to establishing oneself financially, is it ever too early to start?

Junior Achievement doesn’t believe so. In order to help your elementary school student to be prepared for his or her future steps in their life, we have put together some helpful learning resources for your kids to learn at home and at school!

Based on state curriculum standards, Junior Achievement has combined required concepts with proven educational hands-on learning that enables kids to achieve a deeper understanding. Here are our recommendations for parents and teachers to spark learning in elementary aged kids.

Money Tools for….

Parents and Kids at Home

  • Have a child that learns better through technology? Be sure to incorporate some online interactive games that involve math. Check out  PBS Kids for fun interactive learning that your child will actually WANT to play!
  • Turn their iPad time into learning time with Risk and Insurance which was created to educate elementary students in an interactive setting!
  • Family night? Learning can be a joint effort! Break out your family Monopoly board to help your child get hands-on with saving, spending and investing concepts or Game of Life  to let them test drive a career and make their own financial decisions!
  • Need to deposit a check? Bring your child with you! It’s a great real-life experience that will help them to understand the process of banking.

 Teachers and Students in the Classroom

  • Want to encourage your third-graders economic concepts that will change how they see their own city? Check out Junior Achievement’s volunteer lead  program --  JA Our City!  
  • Take learning from the classroom into a simulated town with JA BizTown! Students will be introduced to services provided by financial institutions and discover the connection between spending and having money in a bank prior to running their own (biz)town!

elementary school money graphic

4 Books High Schoolers Need for Success

Books for Adulting When is a good time to move out and become fully financially independent? A 2018 Teens & Personal Finance Survey conducted by Junior Achievement USA and AIG found that just half of the 1,000 surveyed teens desired to gain financial independence from their parents. Yet a study found that almost three-in-four parents with children over the age of 18 reported financially helping their child with their living expenses and/or debts.

So, how can parents avoid this financial "failure to launch"? Turns out the best way to prepare your child for the future is by educating them. Concepts like saving, spending, investing and career readiness aren’t being taught enough in schools for you (or your child) to feel confident enough for their financial future.

To help you prevent your child from becoming a long-term roommate, we have put together a list of the four books your high schooler needs to help shape their future for success. 

Teens & Career Indecisiveness


"This is the prettiest, most well-organized, useful and up to date guide to careers that I have ever seen." — Dick Bolles, author of What Color Is Your Parachute?

Every teen needs a starting point for career discovery. In this interactive guide, students learn about various career fields, as well as salary, working hours, training and preparing a resume to land the job of their dreams.

Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type

"This is one of the most popular career books in the world. It's easy to see why. Many have found great help from the concept of Personality Type, and Tieger and Barron are masters at explaining this approach to career choice. Highly recommended." —Richard Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute?

This bestselling guide to finding career success and satisfaction assists with one of the most crucial elements of finding a satisfying career -- personality. Students will follow a step-by-step guide identifying their personality type, careers that align with their type, as well as the strengths and struggles their personality type faces in the workplace.

Teens & Adulting

No One Ever Told Us That: Money and Life Letters to My Grandchildren

"Spooner is a phenomenon, as much a psychologist and futurist as an investment advisor." — Inc. Magazine

From searching for a first job, planning for your financial future and other crucial life skills, readers are passed down the secrets to conquer life's adventures. Author and American leading financial advisor John Spooner passes down life lessons every parent wants their child to know.

Adulting 101: #Wisdom4Life

“In Adulting 101, Josh Burnette and Pete Hardesty share practical, accessible, and authentic wisdom to help students navigate the transition from college to their lives as independent adults. This is a resource young adults can return to over and over again for advice.” -Jonathan R. Alger, President, James Madison University

By definition, Adulting means to do grown-up things and have responsibilities, such as holding a full-time job, paying rent, buying groceries or owning a car. While these elementary life-skills are obvious to the modern-day parent, it may come as a shock that these skills are not being taught in the classroom. This practical guide puts those who are not "adults" into the driver’s seat as authors Burnette and Hardesty address topics like employment, workplace success, professional communication, investing, along with other "adulting" topics.

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  • "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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