Junior Achievement

Millions of students in the United States are members of Junior Achievement. Many other students around the world are members of its international group. These organizations teach young people business skills and economics. I'm Sarah Long. And I'm Steve Ember. Junior Achievement is our report today on the VOA Special English program, THIS IS AMERICA.

In Nineteen-Ninety-Eight, a young man named Constancio Larguia (Cone-STAN sea-oh Lahr-GHEE-ah) and a friend opened an Internet stock-trading company in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The company was called Patagon (PAH-tag-own) dot com International Limited. Two years ago, Mr. Larguia and his investors sold Patagon dot com for five-hundred-twenty-eight-million dollars. Mr. Larguia says skills he learned earlier in Junior Achievement enabled him to start the successful company.

Junior Achievement has almost two-million members in one-hundred-twelve countries. Programs are offered in thirty-six languages. In the United States, the organization has more than four-million members. All these young people develop and operate their own businesses.

Junior Achievement began in Nineteen-Nineteen in Springfield, Massachusetts. Horace Moses, a businessman, developed the idea. He wanted to help young people gain skills they needed to succeed in business after they left school.

The group's first program was for American high school students after school hours. It taught the young people how businesses are organized and operated. The students learned by forming their own companies. Local business people advised them.

First, the students developed a product. Then they sold shares in their company. They used this money to buy the materials needed to make the product. They produced the product and sold it. They returned the profits to the people who bought shares in the company.

For more than fifty years, these Junior Achievement company programs met after school. Then, in Nineteen-Seventy-Four, Junior Achievement began developing programs for use during normal school hours.

Many more young people joined Junior Achievement after the organization began teaching business skills as part of the school day. People from the community teach about businesses – how they are organized, how products are made and sold. They also teach about the American and world economies – the systems of money, industry and trade. Students learn how the economy affects their families and their communities.Children from five to eleven years old can join Junior Achievement school programs in the United States. One of the goals is to show children they are part of a larger world community. They learn about rules and laws. They learn the meaning of being good citizens.

Students from twelve to fourteen years old attend middle school Junior Achievement classes. They study subjects including trade, world economy, stocks and investment banking. The students learn about supply and demand, property rights and saving money. Each week, a member of the local business community leads discussions and activities.

Students in this program learn some of the skills they will need to control their own money when they are adults. They learn about budgets and personal and family financial management. They learn about the use – and misuse – of using credit to buy things.

Another Junior Achievement program for middle school students is called the Economics of Staying in School. It is for students who may be thinking of leaving school before completing high school. Students learn the importance of staying in school. They learn that workers with more education get better jobs and earn more money.

Junior Achievement high school programs are for students fifteen to eighteen years old. These students learn how to form their own companies. They also study many business-related subjects including economics.

In recent months, high school Junior Achievers have studied the economic effects of the terrorist attacks on the United States. They identified some of the businesses that were in the World Trade Center in New York City when it was destroyed in the attack.

For example, MorganStanley is a major American stock-trading company. It had offices in the World Trade Center. Several of its employees were killed in the attack. Company officials asked the students to consider how damage to a business like MorganStanley could hurt the worldwide economy. They also asked them to think about how such a company could help improve living conditions for poor people.

In Nineteen-Fifty-Five, Junior Achievement established its first program outside the United States. It was in Canada. Soon other countries joined, including Britain, Mexico and the Philippines. By Nineteen-Eighty-Nine, fifteen countries were teaching young people how to develop their business skills.

In Nineteen-Ninety-One, after the Soviet Union ended, Junior Achievement spread very quickly. Many former Soviet countries launched programs using Junior Achievement International material. Interest in business development also increased in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia.

To meet this increased need, Junior Achievement International was established in Nineteen-Ninety-Four. The organization has several goals. They include helping young people understand the importance of market economies and the world economy. Another goal is to teach young people that businesses should support environmental and social issues and should operate honestly. Another goal is to help young people understand the importance of education and economics in their lives.

Some Junior Achievement International programs are nontraditional. For example, last year the organization began a new project in the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago. Business people are leading a group at the Youth Training Center in Trinidad. They are teaching business skills to young people jailed for crimes. The goal is to help them gain knowledge to improve their lives.

Some members of Junior Achievement International also work for better social conditions. For example, students from Argentina created a program to improve the environment.

About eighty major businesses support Junior Achievement International. Supporters include companies like Coca-Cola, American Express, Reynolds Aluminum and FedEx.Individuals and other groups also help. For example, the Citigroup Foundation has provided almost two-million dollars to Junior Achievement International since Nineteen-Ninety-Six.

An organization led by international investor Sir John Templeton recently gave more than three-hundred-eighty-thousand dollars for a special project. The Exxon Mobil Corporation gave an equal amount of money. Junior Achievement International is establishing a Global Business Ethics Program with this money.

This program will teach students about moral values in the business world. The program will be offered on the Internet World Wide Web later this year or early next year.

Junior Achievement International has helped improve the lives of young people around the world. One of these is a sixteen-year-old boy from Zimbabwe whose parents died of AIDS. He must provide for his three young brothers and sisters. He says at first he thought it was difficult to start his own business. But he was able to do so after taking classes from Junior Achievement International. He says the program is very important for young people who are unemployed and have a family to support.

You can find more information about Junior Achievement International at its Internet Web site, w-w-w-dot-j-a-I-n-t-l-dot-o-r-g. Or you can write to Junior Achievement International, four-six-zero Abernathy Road, Northeast; Atlanta, Georgia, three-zero-three-two-eight, U-S-A.

This VOA Special English program was written by Jerilyn Watson. It was produced by Caty Weaver. I'm Sarah Long. And I'm Steve Ember. Join us again next week for another report about life in the United States on the VOA Special English program, THIS IS AMERICA.