Junior Achievement Marks 90 Years of Business Education


    This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.

    This year, Junior Achievement marks its ninetieth anniversary of educating young people about business and economics. The nonprofit organization is the largest of its kind. Jack Kosakowky is executive vice president.

    JACK KOSAKOWSKY: "We are the oldest business and economic education organization in the world.  We're now serving nine-point-two million young people around the globe in one hundred twenty-three different countries."

    Programs begin in elementary school and continue through middle and high school. The education is based on the ideas of market-based economics and entrepreneurship.

    Shakara Walker shows a product her group of students is marketing at Junior Achievement offices in Atlanta, Georgia
    Shakara Walker shows a product her group of students is marketing at JA offices in Atlanta, Georgia
    Junior Achievement began in nineteen nineteen in Springfield, Massachusetts. Two business leaders, Horace Moses and Theodore Vail, joined with Senator Murray Crane of Massachusetts to start the group.

    For more than fifty years, Junior Achievement programs operated through clubs that met after school. But in nineteen seventy-five, JA also began to teach business skills during the school day.

    Volunteers from the community teach about businesses, how they are organized, and how products are made and sold. The volunteers also teach about the American and world economies and about industry and trade.

    The Junior Achievement Company Program teaches young people how entrepreneurship works. They learn about business by operating their own companies.

    Students develop a product and sell shares in their company. They use the money to buy the materials they need to make their product, which they then sell. Finally, they return the profits to the people who bought shares in the company.

    Chellsey Cruz joined a student-operated company two years ago. The Higher Grounds Cafe in West Hills, California, sells high quality coffee.

    She says her experience has given her valuable training that will help her for a lifetime.

    CHELLSEY CRUZ: "It taught me to be dedicated, and that if you want to be successful, you have to put in a lot of time and effort. You really have to work at it."

    Junior Achievement says three hundred eighty-five thousand volunteers support its programs around the world. In the United States alone, there are nearly twenty-three thousand places that hold Junior Achievement events.

    Junior Achievement Incorporated and Junior Achievement International combined their operations in two thousand four. They formed Junior Achievement Worldwide. Its headquarters are in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

    And that's the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter with additional reporting by Faiza Elmasry. Transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our programs can be found at 21voa.com. And you can follow us on Twitter at VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember.