JA of Alaska Celebrates 50 Years Providing Financial Literacy, Work Readiness, and Entrepreneurship
Junior Achievement of Alaska is celebrating fifty years educating the state’s youth in financial literacy and work readiness.
2023 is particularly special for Junior Achievement (JA) of Alaska as we celebrate our 50th Anniversary. Fifty years ago in 1973, C. H. Rosenthal, Joseph P. Wiley, Dave Stein, and Les Pace established an organization to teach financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship to Alaska’s youth, helping them acquire the skills they needed to succeed in a changing economy.
The initial endeavor was called “Stop ‘Em from Droppin,” a partnership with the then-Anchorage Borough School District, business community, and S.A.V.E. aimed at allowing students, “through ownership of their own companies, to develop a realization of honesty and dependability in the world of work” and to “instill in young people a sense of responsibility for the successful functioning of American business and government during their lifetime.”
JA’s mission is even more relevant today. By activating corporate and community volunteers to deliver JA programs to our youth, we broaden horizons and inspire students to achieve their goals. During school closures in 2021/2022, more than 150 volunteers delivered programs both in person and virtually to K-12 youth and positively impacted the lives of more than 10,000 students. This was possible because of the strength of JA’s traditional programming and our resolve to bring to Alaska innovative programming like JA Finance Park Virtual, JA Inspire Virtual, and the JA Biz Camp.
Our students tell us these experiences have changed the trajectory of their lives.
- Financial Literacy: Nearly 2,000 Alaskan students experience JA Alaska’s Economics for Success and Finance Park Virtual programs annually, learning about saving, investing, budgeting, taxes, credit scores, and investing.
- Work Readiness: More than 4,000 students were prepared for the world of work by participating in JA Inspire Virtual with companies such as AT&T, Wells Fargo, Bristol Bay Native Corporation, Kaladi Brothers Coffee, ConocoPhillips Alaska, Saltchuk, First National Bank Alaska, Northrim Bank, Lynden, and more.
- Entrepreneurship: At the JA Biz Camp, students in grades K-8 spent a week over the summer creating business plans and pitching them to local “sharks,” or potential business investors. Next year, JA of Alaska would like to have enough support to send a group of students to the Junior Achievement National Student Leadership Summit to compete with other states.
- Rural Outreach: JA launched the Rural Alaska Initiative in 2009, bringing hands-on programs and volunteers from the business community to K-12 schools in some of the most remote areas of the state. Starting with the village of Larsen Bay on Kodiak Island, the initiative has expanded to include nearly thirty villages on an annual basis.
- After School Programming: Students need safe places to learn after school. JA is proud to contribute to this cause by providing students with opportunities to learn about financial management and entrepreneurship with local organizations, including the Anchorage Public Libraries, Boys & Girls Clubs, Girls on the Run Southcentral Alaska, 21st Century Learning, various homeschool programs, and more.
The current strategic initiative of JA of Alaska’s board of directors, Focus on the Future, will find solutions to address the unique needs of Alaska’s future workforce, including new leadership opportunities for high school students, innovative programming for elementary and middle school students through technology, and immersive learning experiences that make a lasting impact on young people.
To you, the members of the business community, our message is simple and sincere: thank you! Your involvement, contributions, and—most importantly—shared passion for our mission ensures every child is afforded the opportunity to succeed and achieve their full potential in life. It is an honor to be considered the business community’s own nonprofit organization.
The future of our JA students is bright, and we are honored to be working with you to fulfill our mission of inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy.
Cheers to the next fifty years!
Flora Teo is the President of Junior Achievement of Alaska.
Beth Barnes is the Chairman of the Board for Junior Achievement of Alaska.