Junior Achievement was founded in 1919 by Theodore Vail, president of American Telephone & Telegraph; Horace Moses, president of Strathmore Paper Co.; and Senator Murray Crane of Massachusetts, with the idea “To work for the general advancement of boys and girls activities.” Its first program, JA Company Program, was offered to high school students on an after-school basis. Over the next 30 years JA continued to grow and expand and continued its mission of educating youth. In 1950 JA-Rocky Mountain was established in Denver as part of the continuing national expansion. JA’s first international office opened in 1955 in response to the needs of the international business commerce community.
In 1975, the organization entered the classroom with the introduction of Project Business for the middle grades. Over the last 30 years, JA has expanded its activities and broadened its scope to include in-school and after-school students and is the world’s largest organization dedicated to educating students about work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy through experiential, hands-on programs. JA-Rocky Mountain has been at the forefront of these activities for more than 65 years and in the last 20 has seen a ten-fold yearly increase in students reached to more than 125,000 students last year.
According to Vail, “The future of our country depends upon making every individual, young and old, fully realize the obligations and responsibilities belonging to citizenship … The future of each individual rests in the individual, providing each is given a fair and proper education and training in the useful things of life… Habits of life are formed in youth … What we need in this country now … is to teach the growing generations to realize that thrift and economy, coupled with industry, are necessary now as they were in past generations.”
With JA-Rocky Mountain’s presence in 550 schools in Metro Denver, Northern Colorado and Southern Wyoming, we have grown, stayed relevant and remained true to the idea of “working for the general advancement of boys and girls activities.”
To inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy. It’s not an easy task, but it’s the kind of challenge that JA takes on with creative energy, fervor, and decisive action.