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Boys' and Girls' Bureau of the Eastern States League was founded in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1919 to help educate young people moving from rural America to the country's booming cities about the means of production and free enterprise. The following year, the organization's name was changed to the Junior Achievement Bureau. The name was modified in 1926 to Junior Achievement, Inc.
Following World War II, the organization grew from a regional into a national organization. In the 1960s, JA began its growth into an international organization.
For more than 50 years, the organization was known mostly for the JA Company Program, an after-school program through which students form companies, sell stocks, produce and market a product, and sell it in their communities and globally. The student companies are mentored by volunteer advisers from the business and tech communities. In 1975, Junior Achievement introduced its first in-school program, Project Business, featuring volunteers from the local business community teaching middle school students about business and personal finance.
Today, JA Worldwide is one of the world's largest organization youth-serving organizations, dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need for employment and entrepreneurship. JA programs are delivered by corporate and community volunteers and provide relevant, hands-on experiences that give students knowledge and skills in financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship. JA annually reaches more than 10 million students in more than 100 countries around the world. Programs are delivered by more than 450,000 JA volunteers.
JA programs for elementary, middle, high school, and college students are designed to "help prepare young people for the real world by showing them how to generate wealth and effectively manage it, how to create jobs which make their communities more robust, and how to apply entrepreneurial thinking to the workplace."
JA Ourselves (Kindergarten)
JA Our Families (Grade 1)
JA Our Community (Grade 2)
JA More than Money (Grades 3-5)
JA Our City (Grade 3)
JA Our Region (Grade 4)
JA BizTown (Grade 5)
JA Our Nation (Grade 5)
JA Economics for Success
JA Global Marketplace
JA It's My Business!
JA It's My Future
JA Be Entrepreneurial
JA Career Success
JA Company Program
JA Exploring Economics
JA Finance Park
JA Job Shadow
JA Launch Lesson
JA Personal Finance
From its founding in 1919 until 1962, JA was managed by volunteers from the business community. In 1962, the organization hired its first, full-time, paid president.
Beginning in 1944, Junior Achievement organized an annual national conference, known as the National Junior Achievers Conference, NAJAC, to bring together student representatives of local programs to participate in contests. In 1949, the organization began allowing conference delegates to elect national leadership to play an active role contributing to program development, increasing public awareness and supporting fundraising.
From 1944 to 1961, conferences were held in New Jersey, West Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Indiana, before finding a home on the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana through the mid-1990s.
National Conference Presidents
Between 1949 and 1989, 33 teenagers, including 31 boys and 2 girls, were elected by their peers to serve as Junior Achievement's national conference president.