Putting it succinctly, Junior Achievement’s mission is to help give students — who are inspired to be the young entrepreneurs of tomorrow — a taste of the business world. Since 1919, JA has been educating students about entrepreneurship with passion and integrity. It is the world’s largest organization devoted to that purpose.
One of the keys to JA’s success is the hands-on programs that help prepare young people to operate their own business. Many alumni of the program have cited their experience in JA as the foundation for their interest in being self-employed.
For instance, an inductee into a local chapter’s Hall of Fame recalled that when he was 13, he wanted to be an astronomer. Then, with five friends, he got into Junior Achievement and created a little company to market a useful product.
“We made money in the end,” he says. “After three or four months, we distributed $40 to each person of the company. Forty bucks doesn’t sound a lot today, but that was in 1955. At any rate, I decided, ‘Hey, I’d better go into business because I can’t make any money as an astronomer.’ That’s when I decided to go into business.”
Today, he owns a multimillion-dollar successful company.
JA Worldwide reaches more than 9 million students each year in 380,000 classrooms as well as after-school sites. There are 330,000 classroom volunteers globally who come from a wide range of backgrounds: retirees, businesspeople, college students and parents.
Local chapters each year honor distinguished business leaders who have acted as role models for students.
This year’s honorees for Junior Achievement of Central Ohio include Jim Budros, chairman of the board of Budros, Ruhlin & Roe Inc., the largest independent wealth management firm in central Ohio; Chuck Kegler, director with Kegler Brown Hill & Ritter LPA and a member of the firm since 1968; and Dwight Smith, founder and CEO of Sophisticated Systems Inc., a business technology partner in the Columbus region, and co-founder with his wife Reneé of the Thanks Be to God Foundation to support entrepreneurship and children worldwide.
They join the more than 80 business leaders inducted into the Junior Achievement of Central Ohio Hall of Fame in the past 25 years who give inspiration and purpose to young people to succeed in a global economy.