History

Junior Achievement was founded in 1919 by New England visionaries Theodore Vale, President of American Telephone & Telegraph; Horace Moses, president of Strathmore Paper Co.; and Senator Murray Crane of Massachusetts. Originally called the Boys’ and Girls’ Bureau Committee, the organization’s name was changed in 1920 after the first after-school educational course, called the Company Program was offered to high school students.

The Company Program showed children how to set up their own small businesses, with students manufacturing and selling everything from walnut desk clocks to miniature cactus gardens. The program created a financial and economic knowledge advantage that clearly benefited the students, their schools and the community. From that humble beginning, Junior Achievement expanded and grew to become the world’s largest organization totally dedicated to inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy.

In 1975, the organization entered the classroom with the introduction of Project Business for the middle school grades. This program was Junior Achievement’s response to the concerns of many business leaders who felt our youth were not being taught how the American economic system worked.

Since entering the classroom, Junior Achievement has dramatically expanded its activities and broadened its scope to include in-school and after-school students in grades K-12. Our experiential programs, JA BizTown®, launched in 2001, and JA Finance Park™, launched in 2009, are interactive instructional programs that reinforce students’ social studies, language arts, math and workplace skills by giving them real-life application.

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