Credit card debt. Bad buying decisions. Living “above our means” and drowning in financial woes. It’s all too often the reality for many adults today. Money is at the core of every aspect of our life, and kids need to acquire basic financial literacy skills at a young age to succeed in adulthood.
With more than 1.1 million children in Arizona’s schools, there has never been a greater need than now to prepare our youth to manage the economics of life. Career-ready, financially savvy students become adults who will create and run a vibrant economy.
Everyone should have a vested interest in helping students gain competency in money management. In order for our economy and community to be successful in the future, today’s students must be equipped to make smart spending, saving and investing decisions throughout their lives.
So how can we help today’s youth get off on the right foot financially?
Organizations like Junior Achievement of Arizona (JA) are dedicated to preparing AZ students, Kindergarten through high school, to succeed in work and life. Since 1957, Junior Achievement has impacted the lives of more than 2 million students across the state. Just last year, JA served more than 83,000 primarily low-income students. The organization partners with more than 400 schools, 9,000 mentors and diverse corporate and community partners to provide this critical education in thousands of classrooms.
Our programs work! Students who participated in JA’s programs last year gained a 38% knowledge increase in financial concepts and demonstrate a 20% increase in critical thinking skills. They graduate at a higher rate than the State’s graduation rate and are 30% more likely to get their Bachelor’s degree. In their careers, JA alumni earn, on average, 20% more than the general population, are 2.5 times more likely to start a business and 9 out of 10 JA alumni are satisfied with their careers.
Our students go on to experience full careers and lives where they are better prepared to navigate the realities of the future. They reach greater heights than they thought possible (Mary). They become entrepreneurs (like Nindi and Aleena), executives (like Karen and Jonas). They pursue their dreams (Emma), innovate (Maximus), and aim to shape the communities that they live in.
Just imagine an Arizona where all students are able to envision their future potential and are also given the critical skills needed to prepare for and reach that potential!
JA’s age-appropriate programs are activity-based or experiential simulation models designed to enable students to connect what they learn in the classroom to the real world. These important lessons often become second-nature, and tasks like creating and balancing a budget no longer seem so daunting. As students begin to apply their money management skills, they won’t make crippling financial decisions for their family or shy away from investing in their futures.
Did you know that kids as young as 5 can begin to grasp fundamental concepts that will help them make financially sound decisions in the future? As students participate in JA’s program throughout their school years, they gain valuable skills to prepare them to manage their money, thrive in the workplace and think like entrepreneurs:
- In elementary school, JA’s engaging activities introduce students to the concepts of earning, saving, and budgeting, in addition to allowing students the opportunity to run their own businesses and think like entrepreneurs.
- JA’s middle school activities build upon these concepts and expand to career exploration, the difference between good and bad credit, and how to be savvy consumers. At this level, they also gain a better understanding of the global economy and marketplace.
- JA’s high school programs delve deeper into developing skills that apply toward entering the working world, healthy decision-making ability and creating a working budget.
- JA also provides signature experiential programs for middle and high school students including:
- JA BizTown – 4th, 5th and 6th graders students visit one of JA’s two student-sized towns built just for them. Through this program, students operate businesses with the goal of paying back their loan by the close of the day, while also getting paid and managing their personal finances as the towns’ consumers. Students are able to see first-hand what it’s like to play a role in the economy, from both the consumer and business perspectives, and be a responsible, contributing member of the community.
- JA Finance Park – This simulation-based program equips students with the knowledge they will need to navigate the financials waters in the future. They are given a life scenario where they learn how to balance a personal or family budget while gaining an understanding of the financial obligations and obstacles they might face (e.g. purchasing decisions, savings, credit, interest rates, and loans). Through this powerful program, students also walk away with an understanding of how education affects their earning potential.
- JA Student Stock Market Challenge – High school teams compete against one another in a mock New York Stock Exchange to see who can end the day with the highest net worth. This program helps demystify the stock market and introduces students to important investment lessons and financial products.
- JA You’re Hired – this innovative program for high school students equips them with the essential skills to enter the workforce and succeed in their future careers. Through this program, they learn the skills needed to obtain their future career (resume writing, interviewing, etc.) and the highly transferable skills needed in any work environment (working in teams, problem-solving, public speaking, etc.).
Combined, these skills help students not only shape their idea of the life they might want but also help them determine their educational and professional goals to obtain it. Regardless of age, all students who experience JA programs walk away with a better understanding of their abilities and are equipped with the skills needed to harness their potential.
Doing Our Part
How can you join us in helping prepare Arizona students to succeed in work and life?
- Support JA through your AZ Charitable Tax Credit. If you haven’t already maxed out your 2018 AZ Qualifying Charitable Organization tax credit contribution, don’t miss the opportunity to make an immediate impact in our community and get it back, dollar-for-dollar on your AZ tax return (up to $400/individual and $800/married filing jointly). Make a tax credit donation now
- Volunteer with JA in the classroom. It takes more than 9,000 volunteer mentors each year to deliver JA’s financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship education in Arizona. As a professional in the financial industry, you are uniquely suited to take on the task of helping teach our students how to manage their money. It’s fun, rewarding, and you’ll directly impact the futures of a classroom of students. Volunteer with JA
- Spread the word about JA’s programs in your network. The more people who know about JA’s mission, the more volunteers and resources available to serve more students! Encourage your employees, clients, friends, and family to take advantage of the charitable tax credit and support JA! Connect with us on Facebook
Ways to get involved
JA Alumni: The Scoop on JA Impact
One JA Alum, Nindi Wadhwa, shares his JA story and how his participation continues to impact him today. He is.... Tell me more
A Big Leap from JA You’re Hired!
Hear how Mary’s life has be transformed as a result of her participation in the JA You’re Hired (now JA.... Tell me more