Press Releases

San Diego Teen Companies Win at Junior Achievement USA Company of the Year Competition

August 10, 2012

On Thursday, Aug. 2 at Washington, D.C.’s George Washington University, Junior Achievement USA® (JA) celebrated teen entrepreneurs who own and operate companies created through the JA Company Program®. Both of the Junior Achievement of San Diego and Imperial Counties’ companies went for the win—Cast-A-Waste took home the second place while Place~Mate won the Best Financial Performance Award.

The annual North American JA Company of the Year Competition is a contest of business skills, ingenuity and innovation that focused on the accomplishments of U.S. JA Company Program  students, ages 15-19, during the 2011-2012 academic year. Currently reaching nearly 400,000 young people a year globally, JA Company Program gives teens the skills to start and run their own businesses under the mentorship of a local business volunteer.

The teams were selected from among 15 competing student companies comprised of 75 students representing JA operations from across the country. The second-place winner for the JA Company of the Year award was the local company Cast-A-Waste from Harmonium, which converts recycled vegetable waste products into organic worm castings.

Place~Mate from Westview High School—who creates laminated place mats that help preschoolers learn shapes, letters and numbers— won the Best Financial Performance Award presented by NYSE Euronext Foundation. The award is given to the student team which performs best against a high level of set criteria, including profitability, stockholder expectations, employee earnings, product quality, leadership and operational efficiency. 

“We’re honored to receive the financial performance award. Creating the ideas for these projects is easy—it’s the profitability part that’s tough. We appreciate being rewarded for that process,” said Trevor Minear with Place~Mate.

The awards were presented at a gala event in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hall of Flags and were the culmination of a five-day summit in the nation’s capital.

During the week in Washington, D.C., the teen-run companies participated in a trade fair where they promoted and sold their products and pitched their companies to a panel of judges comprised of business leaders. The companies were evaluated on their financial performance and on their presentation to the judging panel.

"JA Company of the Year Competition is an exciting opportunity for Junior Achievement students to demonstrate the teamwork, leadership and innovative thinking that will help them drive success in the business world," said Joanne Pastula, CEO of Junior Achievement of San Diego. “Through this competition, Junior Achievement is empowering these teen entrepreneurs to own their economic success through business ownership.”


JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT is a worldwide nonprofit organization that empowers young people to own their economic success. Junior Achievement of San Diego and Imperial Counties is working locally to reach 46,000 students in K-12 classrooms for the 2011-2012 school year, which takes 5,500 volunteers who will lead classes and experiential programs.  For more information on programs in San Diego and Imperial Counties, visit