JA is preparing young people to thrive in the 21st century workplace and global economy by inspiring a passion in free enterprise and entrepreneurship, and instilling an understanding of personal financial literacy.
But JA is not just a mission -- it's a movement. A movement to ensure that our young people are better off than the generations who came before them; to inspire and prepare every student, no matter what their background, to reach their potential.
Junior Achievement was founded in 1919 with the purpose of providing young people with relevant, tangible experiences and skills to carry with them into adulthood and the workforce. As co-founder Theodora Vail, President of AT&T stated in 1918: "Habits are formed in youth…what we need in this country now … is to teach the growing generations to realize that thrift and economy, coupled with industry, are necessary now as they were in past generations."
We still believe in this premise- that it is a community's duty to ensure the next generation has the knowledge and skills to seize opportunity and own their future economic success. Junior Achievement Rocky Mountain (JA) has been creating and implementing practical, activity based business and economic programs in schools in Colorado and Wyoming through the dedicated efforts of business volunteers for over 60 years.
JA President & CEO Robin Wise received the Colorado Nonprofit Association's William Funk Award for Building Stronger Communities in 2016 and was also selected as one of the 2016 Top 25 Most Powerful Women by the Colorado Women's Chamber of Commerce. Robin has been at the helm of JA-Rocky Mountain for 25 years, leading it to its current status as the 8th largest JA region in the United States.
This is what students are saying they have learned from JA:
"Dear [JA Volunteer],
I am not going to just sit here and write one million 'thank-you's', instead I am going to write you two million 'you inspired-me's' even though my teacher said to say thank you, this is the truth. You inspired me and now I took what we learned and told the other classes about what we did and guess what, we now have our own businesses outside and we play with them at recess. I always look forward to Junior Achievement every year because we learn about our local town and what will happen when we grow up."
- 4th grade student
"JA volunteers make learning about business easy and fun. I never would have thought that business had so many different aspects" -High School Student
"I learned some cool things, and I hope that I can do these things when I get older...I am also going to pass along some of the information to my parents and maybe they can use it too!" - High School Student
"I learned how to manage my money and prepare for my future."
- Elementary School Student
"I learned that you need to pay attention and have skills. Participate, show respect, graduate, make something of yourself and stay in school." - Middle School Student
"I learned how to write a resume and interview successfully."
- High School Student
Here is what JA volunteers say of their experience:
"I can't even begin to explain the impact that this day had on me. The kids were fantastic, and very interested in what we were trying to do. The program materials were well suited for the age group and there were ample opportunities to add to the presentation using life and community examples. Although I was a little nervous going in, it didn't take long to get involved with the students and the materials and things went really well!"
"The JA experience is a vital link between the business and education realms. Tomorrow's leaders need exposure to global economics, business and culture that business volunteers can easily bring to the classroom from their daily experiences. It was a personal thrill to see kids eager to learn about global trade and to be able to show them practical, real world examples. It is a great experience for all business leaders, one that should not be missed."
"I was able to teach at the middle school I went to so many years ago. I enjoy helping middle and high school students know that they can succeed even if they come from a lower income community. JA volunteering allows me to continue to work full-time in the private sector and to teach part-time, which for me is the best of both worlds."
"So far I've taught 304 JA students. Every class has been a wonderful experience. It's amazing how thirsty our children are for knowledge. They LOVE JA! and so do I!"
"With the current state of the economy, this class has been extremely relevant to the students, even at the young age of 78. I had one student share with the class that her parent had been laid off. While it was a difficult and sensitive subject to discuss, we were able to talk about how truly important it is to embrace the values taught in Junior Achievement and how they help people acquire the skills and knowledge to be successful - even if that means having to find a new job. The kids really seemed to understand the value of their education and I was so proud that they remembered so many of the concepts we had covered at the end of the course."
"The teacher had the students write thank you cards for me. One was particularly inspiring, 'Thanks for coming to our class! You taught me to be more positive, proactive, and how to plan for the future well before it comes. You changed my life and the way I view things! Thanks.'"
Here is what teachers are saying of the JA program experience:
"My students looked forward to the JA representative coming to our class every week for the time she was with us. They were very engaged and learned so much. It truly was a wonderful experience for them. I would love to be involved in JA in the future."
"The students were highly engaged with our volunteer and the activities, as evidenced by their eagerness and willingness to talk and share with one another and the volunteer. All students were able to participate, which was especially meaningful for our second language learners and specials needs students."
"The kids were wonderfully engaged and walked away saying, 'Now I know why I need to go to college!' "
"My JA [volunteers] were outstanding. The students were very interested in their business life and how they achieved their success. Their preparation and professionalism was very evident."
"I use JA Economics as the textbook for my high school economics class. I appreciate that JA has kept its material current and uses examples from current businesses to illustrate economic concepts."
Here is what parents are saying about their child's involvement:
"Earlier this summer my son attended the JA Business Week camp at Johnson & Wales... I want to be sure to tell you how much this experience meant to him. He calls it "the best week of his life" and something that has forever changed him. He told me he hasn't been that interested in business over the years (go figure! surprising since his mother ran a small business for 10 years!) but more interested in engineering. Now, he is sure that he will combine the two due to the "incredible" speakers and amazing experience he had at the JA camp.His group leader is someone he admires, respects and truly "saw" his gifts. As for his group, he said there wasn't one person in the whole group he didn't find real connection with during the camp.As a mom, one of the things that makes me happiest in the world is to see my children excited, inspired and engaged in life. Thanks so much for providing the perfect container, curriculum and team to create a memorable experience, not just for [our son], but for our whole family."
- Parent of a JA Business Week student participant