Student Programmes in Entrepreneurship, Financial Literacy and Work Readiness

Brief: 

Junior Achievement (JA) Worldwide is the world's largest organization dedicated to inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy. Through a dedicated volunteer network, Junior Achievement provides in-school and after-school programmes for students that focus on three key content areas: work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy. Today, 124 individual area operations reach more than 4 million students in the United States, with an additional 5 million students served by operations in 123 other countries worldwide.

The problem addressed by the campaign: 

The world is home to 1.1 billion young people between the ages of 15 and 25 – the largest group in human history. At the end of 2009, it is estimated that 81 million of those young people were unemployed. In some countries around the world, more than 70% of young people are out of school and unemployed. Young people need relevant  and transformative learning experiences to help them be competitive in their local economies.

Solution: 
  • JA’s volunteer-delivered programmes help prepare young people for the real world by showing them how to generate wealth and effectively manage it, how to create jobs that make their communities more robust, and how to apply entrepreneurial thinking to the workplace.
  • JA Company Program reaches 6,000 Kenyan youth annually. Currently, JA is connecting microfinanciers to JA Company Program students in places like the Nairobi slums. The students infuse the capital into their businesses and repay the loans with interest, providing a simple metric with which to measure JA’s impact in addition to sales, jobs and profitability.
  • JA Building Young Entrepreneurs Program teaches students in remote and impoverished areas – such as Cajamarca, Peru – about finance, economics and entrepreneurship and inspires students to pursue higher education.
  • JA Careers with a Purpose Program teaches students about the realities and opportunities of work in the 21st century global marketplace. “In India, in just the last quarter of 2009, more than 2,000 students participated in JA Careers with a Purpose, and many achieved better academic performance. In a county where millions of children have no formal schooling, this demonstration of the relevancy and impact of education – the empowerment that Junior Achievement provides – can make a real difference in public perception and governmental policies for the benefit of all of our respective economic futures.” – Venkat Matoory, CEO of JA India.
Impact: 
  • JA is one of a few non-profits to use independent, third-party evaluators to gauge the impact of its programmes. Since 1993, independent evaluators have conducted studies on JA’s effectiveness. Findings prove that students who participate in JA demonstrate significantly higher critical thinking and problem-solving skills than their counterparts.
  • Teachers (95%) and volunteers (92%) report that students who participate in JA have a better understanding of how the real world operates.
  • Both teachers and volunteers agree that JA students work together better as a team and are more capable of making group responses.
  • The majority of middle school students (71%) reported that JA helped them recognize the importance of education and motivated them to work harder to achieve educational and work goals.
  • Middle school students understand more about personal finance, business and economic concepts after participating in JA programmes.
  • The majority of students (79%) agreed that JA positively influenced their attitudes toward continuing their education.
  • JA students were more likely than students in general to matriculate to college immediately after high school (77% versus 69%).
Why has it worked?: 
  • JA teaches students in kindergarten through 12th grade about business and economics and accomplishes its mission by placing volunteers in the classroom to present JA Worldwide’s educational curricula and materials.
  • JA modifies its programs and implementation to adapt to cultural and socio-economic factors in target countries, such as large numbers of students being out of school due to poverty.
Conclusions and Recommendations: 

Deliver relevant, hands-on experiences that give students from kindergarten through high school knowledge and skills in financial literary, work readiness and entrepreneurship.  Programming should empower students to make a connection between what they learn in school and how it can be applied in the real world – enhancing the relevance of their classroom learning and the importance of staying in school.

Foundational Issues: 
Widespread unemployability
Level of Collaboration: 
Level 4: Collaboration on a global or multistakeholder level
Region: 
Global (all of the above)
Economic and political context: 
  • JA Worldwide meets the BBB Wise Giving Alliance Standards. More than 75% of total expenses are programme activity expenses.
  • The organization reaches out to the local community through a network of members who educate and inspire young people to value free enterprise, business and economics to improve the quality of their lives.
  • A member is a community-based organization that serves a specific geographic area. Each member is incorporated under the guidelines of its respective state and bylaws, which govern the actions and responsibilities of the member’s Board of Directors. The headquarters office and the members join together under the terms of a signed agreement whose guiding principle is mutual support.
  • Primary revenues come from corporate and private contributions, federal and private grants, material sales and fees charged to members.
About the Author(s): 
  • JA Worldwide empowers young people to own their future economic success in the 21st century global marketplace. JA focuses on the impact areas of youth, education and economic development.
  • Volunteer-delivered, K-12 programmes foster work-readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy skills, and use experiential learning to inspire kids to dream big, reach their potential, and contribute to the vitality of their local communities and the world economy.