NerdWallet’s Favorite Junior Achievement Programs

Personal Finance

Junior Achievement (JA) is the world’s largest non-profit financial literacy organization. Through their in-school and after-school programs, children and teens learn about business and economics from volunteer industry leaders. With such an impressive financial literacy track record, it’s no wonder that Junior Achievement is one of NerdWallet’s favorite organizations. Junior Achievement coordinators and volunteers are hard at work educating young people around the world, but they’re also making some exciting things happen right in your neighborhood. To celebrate Junior Achievement’s local success stories, we wanted to highlight some of the great programs in your home state. Keep reading to see what your local Junior Achievement chapters are accomplishing in New York, New Jersey, California, Florida, Arizona and Wisconsin!

Capital One / JA Finance Park (New York)

The Capital One / JA Finance Park is a high-tech financial learning lab for middle school and high school students, with locations throughout the United States. Participants are assigned a “life status” (yearly income and family size) and must go from station to station paying bills, making purchases and dealing with life events that impact their budgets, such as medical bills or damage to their homes from a storm. In November, the Capital One / Junior Achievement Finance Park will return to one of its most popular locations: the Museum of American Finance on Wall Street. Junior Achievement of New York’s efforts to empower young people in NYC and Long Island to own their economic success have caught the attention of reporters from PBS, the Wall Street Journal, NY 1 News, MSNBC.com and other major media outlets.

JA High School Heroes (New Jersey)

JA of New Jersey has taken “learn by doing” to a whole new level. Through their High School Heroes program, high school students learn to lead by taking charge and teaching the activity-based Junior Achievement curriculum in local elementary schools. Program participants teach in teams, develop presentational skills and act as role models for younger students. High school students will sometimes present the program in conjunction with volunteers from sponsor companies like Allstate. Junior Achievement of New Jersey has received 6 Summit Awards and a Peak Performance Team Award for their program successes.

JA Company Program® at EBay (California)

Through the JA Company Program®, high school students work together to create their own company from start to finish. They’re responsible for everything from outlining a business plan and gaining investors to overseeing company operations and setting prices. JA NorCal offers the JA Company Program® in conjunction with eBay, a major player in the online shopping market. Student companies meet once at week at an eBay campus and are mentored by eBay executives, who help students sell their company’s products online. JA NorCal serves students in Northern and Central California. They’ve received a variety of prestigious awards for their work, including a Peak Performance Team Award from Junior Achievement USA and a MetLife Foundation Entrepreneurial Award. This year, they expect to serve more than 126,000 students.

JA Girl$ (Florida)

JA Girl$ is a three-part program that teaches girls about financial literacy, career preparation and entrepreneurship in an all-female setting, using gender-specific teaching strategies. This unique initiative from Junior Achievement of North Florida draws its inspiration from the existing co-ed Junior Achievement curriculum. Why an all-girl program? Despite having more role models than ever before, women are still less inclined to pursue careers in business, math and science. Program Director Elizabeth Paulson says age 8 is, “about the time girls start losing their self-esteem and begin doing poorly at math.” Accordingly, she adds, “[Women] need to stand up and be mentors.” Well done, JA of North Florida! We can’t wait to see this program spread.

JA BizTown Farmers Market (Arizona)

JA BizTown locations give elementary students the opportunity to manage their own business, with help from adult volunteers, in an interactive simulated town. Students write checks, receive “salaries” and even vote for a major. In partnership with Local First Arizona, The JA BizTown in Phoenix now includes a local farmers market. Students learn about eating right, growing food, running a farm and running a store all at the same time. They also have the opportunity to purchase packets of seeds with their “salaries”. JA of Arizona’s programs regularly make headlines and receive rave reviews. This year, they’ll be serving over 72,000 students in Tempe, Tucson and surrounding cities.

Excellence Through Ethics (Wisconsin)

JA’s Excellence Through Ethics program brings local business leaders to high school classrooms to discuss the importance of integrity in the business world. Speakers emphasize that the competitive nature of business makes it tempting to lie or cheat, but honest business leaders keep our economic and political systems healthy. JA of Wisconsin believe this message is more important than ever, considering the fact that dishonest business executives are constantly making headlines. JA of Wisconsin’s programs have been featured in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Fox News. Be sure to check out their supplemental online ethics resources.

Get involved

Interested in volunteering for JA or setting up a program for your classroom? If you’re as impressed as we are, visit the Junior Achievement homepage and connect with your local chapter.