1916 -1929

August 1916 - The Eastern States Agricultural and Industrial Exposition in Springfield, Mass. hosts a conference of 300 agricultural and business leaders. The goal of their meeting is to work on the general advancement of activities for boys and girls. Several committees, including the Boys’ and Girls’ Bureau, are formed to raise funds for implementing solutions.

1919 - Despite World War I, the Boys’ and Girls’ Bureau, headed by Theodore N. Vail, president of AT&T, moves ahead. Its 22 committee members raise a $250,000 and hire Mr. O. H. Benson who previously worked to establish 4-H clubs in Ohio.

February 27, 1920  - The committee changes its name to the Junior Achievement Bureau.

October 1920 - Horace A. Moses, president of the Strathmore Paper Company, becomes chairman of the Junior Achievement Bureau. He goes onto serve in this capacity for 27 years. Along with pledging money to the Junior Achievement Bureau, he builds the Achievement Hall in Springfield, Mass. to serve as a central institution for all Achievement Club activities in the Northeastern states. 

1925 - 1927 – Horace Moses again heads up a major fund drive by pledging $100,000. The Bureau determines that local foundations will be created in cities or counties where conditions warrant, and will be autonomous and independent. Most of the actual work with boys and girls is to be done through these local foundations, supported by local funds

Horace Moses, President of Strathmore Paper Co. and Co-Founder of Junior Achievement

"The future of our country depends upon making every individual fully realize the obligations and responsibilities belonging to citizenship. Habits 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."

- Theodore Vail, president of 
American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T)
and co-founder of Junior Achievement, 1918

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1928 - Moses and his board directs headquarters’ staff to study what changes are needed to accelerate enrollment and to keep youth interested and excited about the program. The study shows that 8-to-12-year-old students are too young for the Achievement Program, and recommends a broader appeal for 16- to 21-year-old students. It also determines that the program be centered in metropolitan centers. The new program is to be called Junior Achievement Companies.

While Junior Achievement was started in 1919, its first official home was not ready until 1925. The original JA headquarters building was located in Springfield, MA.

Read the book Junior Achievement: A History by Joe Francomano and Wayne & Darryl Lavitt to learn more about the history of Junior Achievement.

1930 - 1939

After the stock market crash in 1929, the JA Bureau becomes financially strapped, and raising funds becomes the number one priority for staff.

1930 - 1935 - Philanthropy drops by 25 percent, but The Revenue Act of 1935 gives corporations a tax deduction of 5 percent of net income for charitable giving.

1938- Charles R. Hook, president of American Rolling Mill Company of Ohio, and the current President of the National Association of Manufacturers speaks at a JA awards conference in New York City. Interest in JA is immediately increased, as inquiries from areas outside the Northeast begin.

 Charles R. Hook






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1940 - 1949

During the 1940s JA creates new events that include:
● National Association of Junior Achievement Companies (NAJAC), a conference for students in the JA Companies
● Future Unlimited Banquets, sponsored by businesses to recognize the outstanding leadership of JA Companies
● Company Trade Fairs that display and sell company products

December 5, 1941 - Mr. Hook and Mr. Moses extend invitations to prominent businessmen across the country to meet in New York City. The goal is to interest them in the expansion of Junior Achievement. More than 750 leading business executives representing 29 states and the District of Columbia attend. The meeting adjourns with all parties interested.

1941 - Expansion plans are revised as the United States plunges into WWII. Many JA companies are involved in the war effort. One company contracts to manufacture 10,000 pant hangers for the Army, while another finds an abandoned locomotive and obtains permission to dismantle its engine for scrap metal.

August 27, 1942 - Horace Moses and his board resign turning the reins over to metro New York City. Charles R. Hook becomes the new president of the board, and determines the organization should focus on economics. The board also decides that new JA cities will pay 20 percent of their income to the national headquarters. JA staff members around the country are now associates of JA Inc.

1945 - JA cities begin recruiting in schools – the number of JA programs reaches 214. The number of youth involved increases from 2000 to 7000. The national board allows for local autonomy and lowers the fee JA cities pay to the national headquarters to 10 percent. 

1949 - JA grows to include 27 cities in 18 states. The JA Company Program reaches 12,409 students. 

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1950 - 1959

JA’s goal for this decade is greater expansion and program improvement. Implementation of local autonomy frees national staff to funnel more resources toward research and development. Enrollment grows five-fold and JA reaches 66,245 students in more than 3,000 JA companies in 139 cities in most of the 50 states.

JA organizes and develops The Correspondence Plan designed to bring JA into smaller communities.

National Association of Junior Achievement Companies (NAJAC) competitions are held for outstanding achiever in sales, production, management, accounting, public speaker, and Miss JA.

- JA initiates the first successful non-U.S. locations in Windsor, Ontario and Vancouver, British Columbia. JA national board proposes that all JA Areas conduct their fund drives to coincide with a national media effort. In January 1955, President Eisenhower proclaims National JA Week which focuses the nation’s attention on the impact JA is having on the business education of youth. 

February 1, 1956 - A national JA conference is held in Washington, D.C., to bring together JA business leadership from the national and local levels. This event helps fuel further interest in JA.

In an effort to improve field relations, Joe Francomano assumes the responsibility of coordinating the work of five regional representatives who play an important part in the growth of the late 50s.

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1960 - 1969

1960 - John Davis Lodge, former Congressman, and former Ambassador to Spain becomes the first full-time paid president and CEO of Junior Achievement Inc,

1962 - Lodge resigns to run for the United States Senate and Donald J. Hardenbrook, former executive of the Union Bag Paper Company takes over the reins of Junior Achievement Inc.  

1966 – A new Company Manual is produced, one for Achievers and one for Advisors, along with a banking manual explaining two banking systems. These publications help refine the JA program.

The National Association of Junior Achievement Companies (NAJAC) expands to provide Achievers with an opportunity to participate in discussion groups and workshops with top business leaders and educators.  Reader’s Digest publisher DeWitt Wallace, a long-time JA sponsor, forms a Speakers Corps.  Achievers are groomed and sent out as speakers to special events around the country to tell the JA story.

1967 - The Johnson Administration requests JA work with the National Alliance for Business developing jobs for youth. The program is called the Summer Job Education Program, organizing teenagers into small JA companies using JA center facilities and equipment. 

Late 1960s - The mood of many young people is anti-business. Students for a Democratic Society spread ideas even to the high schools that JA is a tool of capitalism. 






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1970 - 1981

1970 - Dick Maxwell, former president of the Better Business Bureau takes over leadership of Junior Achievement Inc. He streamlines the National Board from 400 members to 60. 

1971 – After the creation of a research and development department, a new program for junior high students is drafted called Project Business. The program of economics and business education supplements eighth and ninth grade social studies classes one day a week, for one semester. For the first time, corporate volunteers bring business realities into the classroom.

Mid-1970s - Business Basics is designed to bring basic business knowledge to students in the fifth and sixth grades. Achievers who have operated JA companies receive training to be instructors.

February 1975 - Junior Achievement Inc. relocates to Stamford, Conn.

1975 - Junior Achievement establishes the National Business Leadership Conference to honor outstanding business leaders and contributors. Fortune Magazine agrees to develop a slate of nominees and its editors choose the laureates. Held in Chicago, the first conference begins with lunch honoring JA Area presidents, followed by a seminar between Achievers and a panel of business leaders. The ceremony is capped with a dinner inducting the laureates into the National Business Hall of Fame.

1981 - JA pilots Applied Economics (AE), a high school level, full semester, economics curriculum. Junior Achievement is now the largest supplier of economics education to public and parochial schools in the country.

Gov. Ronald Reagan
with Buffalo, NY, Achievers

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1982 - 1994

1982 - Karl Flemke, former CEO of JA Los Angeles, becomes president and CEO of Junior Achievement Inc. and leads the organization through numerous changes.

1983 - The JA Professional Hall of Fame, JA’s highest honor, is established to recognize exemplary contributions among JA’s professional ranks. 

November 18, 1986 - A gala celebration is held at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago to showcase a permanent exhibit of laureates inducted into the JA National Business Hall of Fame. More than four million people visit the Museum each year.

June 11, 1987 – A new headquarters is dedicated after raising $7 million to build a state of the art facility in Colorado Springs, Colo. with a lead grant from the El Pomar and Gates Foundations.  

1988 – After taking the organization 47 years (1919 to 1966) to reach one million students cumulatively, JA reaches one million students during a single school year.

March 16, 1989 - President George Bush, 41st President of the United States, speaks at the National Business Hall of Fame Ceremonies at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado

1989 - In response to increasing requests from other nations, JA Inc. creates an international department. 

December 7, 1991 - a delegation of 150 JA students, staff, local and national board members, classroom teachers, and business volunteers launch JA of the Soviet Union in the Kremlin only days before the fall of the USSR.

1992 - The elementary school programs are launched. These in-school programs allow for rapid expansion during the 1990s. 

July 1, 1994 - JA International is established as a JA Area with it’s own board of directors.

1994-95 - Kathy Whitmire, former Mayor of Houston, Texas, serves as president and CEO of JA.




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1995 - 2004

1995 - James B. Hayes, former publisher of FORTUNE Magazine and Board Chairman of JA Inc. from 1991-1993, becomes the organization’s CEO.

July 1996 – National Web site, www.ja.org, is launched.  A consolidation of area franchises begins in 1996, reducing the number of operating units across America from 232 to 145 areas by 2004.

1996 - Building upon the success of the elementary school programs, JA develops three middle grades programs replacing the first in-school offering – Project Business. Junior Achievement now offers a fully-integrated, sequential Kindergarten through ninth grade curricula.

1997 – Hands-on learning centers, where students run a model city for a day open their doors. Exchange City, JA Enterprise Village for elementary school students and JA Finance Park for middle grades students, are all included in the “Experience JA” initiative.

2000 - JA Titan, a Web-based interactive business simulation for high school students, launches.

July 2001 - David S. Chernow becomes the organization’s 16th president and CEO.

2002 - the JA Pioneers Archives Committee is created to establish the Museum of Junior Achievement History, to develop a permanent archives collection at Indiana University/Purdue University Indianapolis, and to continue the written history of the organization.

Watch the videos from the PBS Special Voices of Vision.

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Today and Beyond

July 1, 2004 - JA Worldwide® is officially established, resulting from the merger of Junior Achievement Inc. and Junior Achievement International. 

January 2008 - Sean Rush becomes the organization’s 17th president and CEO.

July 1, 2011 - Junior Achievement reorganizes to better focus both globally and locally creating Junior Achievement USA™.  JA Worldwide continues to serve the needs of students and volunteers around the globe through 6 regionally focused subdivisions utilizing a global strategy to lead the organization.

Today, Junior Achievement’s network of 129 individual area operations reach more than four million students in the United States, with an additional 5.7 million students served by operations in 122 other countries worldwide. Since its creation in 1919, JA has impacted more than 105 million young people worldwide, with more than 71 million students reached in the United States.

From an idea born at a conference in 1916 dedicated to the advancement of boys’ and girls’, to the creation of the Boys’ and Girls’ Bureau in 1919 which became the Junior Achievement Bureau in 1920, JA has delivered on its promise of hope and opportunity to more than 50 million American youth and millions of additional young people around the world. With close to a century of work, JA continues to reinvent itself and remains pertinent to the advancement of youth in today’s fast-paced world. 


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