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. They wanted to teach kids about business and how the United States economy functioned. The first JA program, The Company Program, was offered to high school students after school. Under the guidance of business mentors, students set up their own businesses and then manufactured and sold products and services.
In 1957, Junior Achievement came west to Arizona, launching its first office in Tucson. Many of Arizona’s top executives and leaders today experienced the JA Company Program as students.
In 1975, Junior Achievement entered the classroom and gradually began offering programs at all grade levels, Kindergarten through high school, expanding the curriculum to encompass financial literacy and work readiness education, in addition to the entrepreneurship training.
In 2001, Junior Achievement launched the experiential program, JA BizTown®, at its current headquarters in Tempe, and then JA Finance Park® in 2009.
In the following years, the organization added additional experiential and in-classroom programs that now reach more than 80,000 primarily low-income students in Arizona each year. Thanks to the support of local individuals, foundations and businesses, Junior Achievement of Arizona has served more than 2 million students in its 60-year history.