JA not only teaches students about entrepreneurship, but it makes students entrepreneurs!
- Isabella, JA alumna

How it all started in 1919: Junior Achievement was founded by Theodore Vail, president of American Telephone & Telegraph; Horace Moses, president of Strathmore Paper Co.; and Senator Murray Crane of Massachusetts. Its first program, The Company Program, was offered to high school students on an after-school basis.

Chartered in 1940, Junior Achievement of Chicago’s roots began with the JA Company Program. In fact, during World War II enterprising JA of Chicago companies got a contract to manufacture 10,000 pants hangers for the Army. They earned not only a decent profit, but a lot of publicity as well.

In 1975, Junior Achievement offices evolved from an after-school program and entered the classroom nationwide with the introduction of Project Business for the middle grades. In the next 20 years, Junior Achievement gradually expanded its activities and broadened its scope to encompass an ever-widening student population.

With the inception of the Elementary School Programs in the early 1990s, Junior Achievement of Chicago pioneered the Whole School Sponsorship Model, which matched corporate funding with their employee’s volunteer resources. The success of this plan created tremendous growth for Junior Achievement of Chicago with annual student outreach growing at more than 20% annually through the decade.