For nearly a century, Junior Achievement has been preparing young people for success.

Founded in 1919, JA started as an organization teaching high school students about business. Students gathered after school and formed actual companies, guided by caring volunteers from local corporations.

In the boom years after World War II, JA spread to every state in the country, and JA student companies became the training ground for a generation of American business men and women.

Responsive to the changing needs of young people, JA expanded its reach and programs during the last 20 years. Today, it is no longer simply an after-school program for high school students. It now serves students from Kindergarten through Grade 12 mainly during the school day with a wide range of programs focusing on job readiness, financial literacy and entrepreneurism.

What hasn’t changed, however, is JA’s belief that students learn best through activity-based lessons and under the guidance of caring volunteers from business and the community. Those continue to be hallmarks of all JA programs.

Today, JA reaches nearly 5 million students in the United States – and millions more across the globe. It is among the fastest growing youth-serving organizations in the world.

JA of Southwest New England’s roots date back to 1951, with the creation of a Hartford-based JA organization. Over time, it grew and merged with other local JA organizations in the state. With its merger with the JA organization in Waterbury in the 1990s and with JA of Southern Connecticut (covering New Haven and New London counties) in 2000, JA of Southwest New England emerged to serve students in seven Connecticut counties (all but Fairfield County).