Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts is dedicated to educating students in entrepreneurship, work readiness, and financial literacy through experiential, hands-on programs.
Our programs 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. Students put these lessons into action, and learn the value of contributing to their communities.
Survey results prove that JA, at all levels, is preparing students to develop successful financial management habits, empowering them to explore the potential of becoming an entrepreneur, and providing them the skills necessary to succeed in a global economy.
Elementary School Programs
JA’s elementary school programs are the foundation of its K–12 curricula. Six sequential themes, each with five hands-on activities, as well as an after-school and capstone experience, work to change students’ lives by helping them understand business and economics.
Ourselves uses compelling stories read aloud by the volunteer, along with hands-on activities to demonstrate helping, working, earning and saving. Five required, volunteer-led sessions. Recommended for kindergarten.
Our Families emphasizes the roles people play in the local economy and engages students with activities about needs, wants, jobs, tools and skills and interdependence. Five required, volunteer-led sessions. Recommended for first grade.
Our Community explores the interdependent roles of workers in a community, the work they perform, and how communities work. Five required, volunteer-led sessions. Recommended for second grade.
Our City studies careers, the skills people need to work in specific careers, and how businesses contribute to a city. Five required, volunteer-led sessions. Recommended for third grade.
Our Region introduces the relationship between the natural, human, and capital resources found in different regions and explores regional businesses that produce goods and services for consumers. Five required, volunteer-led sessions. Recommended for fourth grade.
Our Nation provides practical information about businesses’ needs for individuals who can meet the demands of the job market, including high-growth, high-demand jobs. It introduces the concept of globalization of business and the need for students to be entrepreneurial in their thinking. Five required, volunteer-led sessions. Recommended for fifth grade.
JA More than Money® teaches students about earning, spending, sharing, and saving money, and businesses they can start or jobs they can perform to earn money. Six required, after-school, volunteer-led sessions. Recommended for grades K–5.
Middle School Programs
JA’s middle school programs for students in grades 6–8 include economics and business curricula and a capstone experience. The dynamic interaction between the volunteer and students promotes active learning and brings theory to life.
JA Global Marketplace – Blended Model
JA Global Marketplace gives students an opportunity to experience the worldwide interdependence of producers, consumers, and the global workforce by playing the role of business owners and managers at the international Free Trade Market. Recommended for grades 6–8.
JA Global Marketplace is a series of activities—the average time for each activity is 45 minutes, and the program is delivered to students through an online Learning Management System (LMS).
To accommodate the variety of technology available in schools, a high-tech and low-tech version of each session is available. The program consists of seven sessions and offers two implementation options—Basic or Advanced:
- Basic implementation includes sessions one through six delivered by the volunteer
- Advanced implementation includes sessions one through six delivered by the volunteer and session seven delivered by the teacher or volunteer
All JA programs are designed to support the skills and competencies identified by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. JA programs also correlate to state standards in social studies, English, and mathematics, and to Common Core State Standards.
JA Economics for Success
JA Economics for Success gives students the information needed to build strong personal finances, a cornerstone to a happy, secure life. Students learn the importance of exploring career options based on their skills, interests, and values. They also learn about spending money within a budget; saving and investing wisely; and using credit cautiously. It is composed of six 45-minute sessions and recommended for students in grades 8–11.
JA It’s My Future – Blended Model
JA It’s My Future provides practical information about preparing for the working world while still in middle school. Following participation in the program, students will be able to: research potential careers, learn how to plan for and keep a job, and develop the personal-branding and job-hunting skills needed to earn a job. It is composed of six sessions, volunteer-led, each 45 minutes in length and recommended for grade seven. The program is delivered online to students through the JA Learning Platform.
JA It’s My Business! provides middle school students an opportunity to experience the initial steps of a business startup. New program content provides an authentic entrepreneurial experience for students with each session building toward a product-pitch competition. It is composed of six 45-minute sessions that are volunteer-led, and recommended for grades 7–8.
High School Programs
JA’s high school programs for students in grades 9–12 include economic and business curricula, an after-school student-led enterprise, and a one-day workplace capstone experience. The dynamic interaction between JA volunteers and students promotes active learning and brings theory to life.
JA Company Program – Blended Model
JA Company Program unlocks the innate ability in students to fill a need or solve a problem in their community by launching a business venture—unleashing their entrepreneurial spirit. This new JA Company Program is delivered using the blended-learning model. This model combines the current JA volunteer-led experience with digital collaboration and elements that lead to increased student engagement. Recommended for grades 9–12.
Each of the program’s 13 meetings is divided into two activities and includes a team builder exercise. “Company Ops” is the portion of the meeting during which students build and manage their own business. During the “Deeper Dive,” students work individually or in groups to take a closer look at a business-related topic.
Who we currently work with on company program:
- Springfield Thunderbirds
- East Longmeadow High Schools
- Pathfinder Regional Technical High School
Volunteer: It’s great publicity and an opportunity for your company to give back to the community and help the future leaders of tomorrow. Volunteer your company to participate: Sign Up
JA Finance Park
JA Finance Park helps students build a foundation upon which they can make intelligent financial decisions that last a lifetime, including decisions related to income, expenses, savings, and credit. Recommended for grades 7–12.
The program is composed of 13 required teacher-taught, in-class lessons. It culminates in a hands-on budgeting simulation that is implemented at a JA Finance Park virtual site. Additional extension activities are available for each lesson topic. Lessons are offered in a traditional classroom presentation format designed for middle-grade students, and in a Project-Based Learning (PBL) format created for high school students. Both provide educators a method of delivery that will best meet the needs of their students.
JA Job Shadow™
JA Job Shadow offers students a unique opportunity to visit a professional work environment, insights into how to find and keep a fulfilling career, and how to be entrepreneurial thinkers in their approach to work. In-class sessions prepare students for the visit during which they will face a series of challenges administered by their workplace hosts. Students learn how to research career opportunities and the skills needed to land and keep their dream job. Recommended for grades 9–12.
JA Career Success
JA Career Success equips students with the tools and skills required to earn and keep a job in high-growth career industries. Recommended for grades 9–12.
The program covers the following key topics:
- 4Cs: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity
- Strong soft skills
- Work priorities
- STEM and other high-growth industries
- Personal-brand and job-hunting tools—resumes, cover letters, interviews, and digital profiles
JA Personal Finance – Blended Model
JA Personal Finance demonstrates the relationship between financial decisions made now and future financial freedom and quality of life. Students learn that a positive financial future requires management strategies, including career exploration, budgeting, savings, wise use of credit, savvy shopping, consumer protection and investment strategies. The average time for each activity is 45 minutes and the program is delivered to students through an online Learning Management System (LMS). Recommended for grades 9–12.
To accommodate the variety of technology available in schools, a high-tech and low-tech version of each session is available. The program consists of eight sessions and offers two implementation options—basic or advanced:
- Basic implementation includes sessions one through five delivered by the volunteer
- Advanced implementation includes sessions one through five delivered by the volunteer, and sessions six through eight delivered by the teacher or volunteer
JA Be Entrepreneurial
JA Be Entrepreneurial introduces students to the essential components of a practical business plan, and challenges them to start an entrepreneurial venture while still in high school. Seven required, volunteer-led sessions. Recommended for grades 9–12.
JA Economics reinforces concepts of micro- and macro-economics by having students explore the basic characteristics of the U.S. economic system and how economic principles influence business decisions. It also introduces students to consumer issues, such as saving, investing, and taxation. Seven required, volunteer-led sessions. Recommended for grades 11 and 12.
JA Exploring Economics
JA Exploring Economics fosters lifelong skills and knowledge about how an economy works, including micro-, macro-, personal and international economics. Seven required, volunteer-led sessions. Recommended for grades 11 and 12.
JA Titan allows students to operate a virtual company through a web-based simulation. The students’ success depends on decisions about their product’s price and their company’s marketing, research and development, and business practices. Win or lose, students gain an understanding of how management decisions affect a company’s bottom line. Seven, volunteer-led sessions and one online simulation. Recommended for grades 9–12.
JA High School Experience
The JA High School Experience is a series of semester-long, experiential, blended learning courses designed to empower students to own their economic success. Through a combination of instructional approaches, students progress from foundational principles through application, synthesis and immersion in JA’s three pillars: entrepreneurship, financial literacy, and work and career readiness. Rich with partnership and revenue opportunities, students, teachers, school and corporate partners all benefit.
Each course is accompanied by state-creditable instructional content that include projects and support career pathways that most closely align with JA areas of expertise. The courses are primarily teacher-taught with volunteer engagement opportunities throughout. Each course also incorporates a business-based case study, which integrates interdisciplinary lessons on core principles. Case study sponsorship and volunteer engagement opportunities bring real-world professionals into the learning.
Combined, these components equip students to learn concepts that meet educational standards; synthesize elective concepts; show learning through tangible artifacts; and demonstrate competencies for future success (e.g., collaboration, creativity, innovation, critical and analytical thinking, cultural agility, effective communication and self-direction).
JA Financial Literacy:
Students learn foundational personal finance skills, including how to earn and save money, creating and using a budget, managing credit and debt, assessing risks and using insurance, and how to address financial problems. Students also get an introduction to investing, the stock market and the global environment, including spending habits, business etiquette and exchange rates. In the semester-long projects, students apply the information from the course to their own lives and develop plans to help meet their personal financial goals.
JA Business and Technology 1 and JA Business and Technology 2:
Students are introduced to the basic skills necessary to succeed in business. These courses include themes that address personal skills, like teamwork, innovation, decision making and ethics. Students also learn basic technical skills, like how to use word processing, presentation software and spreadsheets effectively. Finally, students are introduced to some business basics, like entrepreneurship, marketing and accounting. In the project, students develop a blog and add posts addressing business concepts from the perspective of a CEO or business owner.
JA Financial Capabilities 1 and JA Financial Capabilities 2:
Students examine financial capabilities from a business perspective, focusing on investing, banking and insurance. The courses include themes that introduce economics, banking services, employee benefits, ethics, business planning and investment, risk management and international business opportunities. Students apply their learning in the project as they develop plans for personal investing, evaluating employment benefits and using student loans.
JA Entrepreneurial Mindset:
Students learn the basics about starting a business, including developing entrepreneurial abilities, identifying a business opportunity, creating a business plan, economics, and the stages of business growth. In the accompanying project, students work in teams to identify a product or service that they would like to take to market.
JA Business Communications
Students focus on communication skills necessary to succeed in business, including communicating up, down and across organizations; talking about performance; and writing in a business setting. In the course project, students develop a comprehensive business plan to share with potential investors and stakeholders.
JA Marketing Principles 1 and JA Marketing Principles 2:
Students are introduced to marketing and some basic marketing techniques. Themes in the courses address topics such as the marketing mix, market research, sales and marketing methods, understanding the consumer and making a marketing plan. Students also learn about marketing in the world around them and potential careers in the field. Students apply their learning in semester projects as they analyze and evaluate the marketing strategies for a brand.
Students learn personal and business applications of micro- and macroeconomic principles. They begin with foundational concepts of scarcity and opportunity cost and the circular flow of the economy as a framework for understanding how the consumer, producers and institutions, such as the government, influence the market—locally, nationally, and internationally.