Thanks to the investment of our global partners, more than ten million JA students in over 100 countries are managing their finances, honing their job skills, developing an entrepreneurial mindset, and launching small-business ventures. Throughout our 98-year-long commitment to youth employment, hundreds of millions of young people have secured better lives for themselves, their families, and their communities because of JA.
470,000 volunteers and mentors deliver our hands-on, blended-learning programs, which emphasize the three pillars on which JA was built: financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship. Woven around these pillars is our focus on social entrepreneurship and on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
When our young people succeed, everyone benefits: Families that know how to save, invest, and avoid debt are more able to invest in their neighborhoods. Communities are more stable and prosperous when young people are job creators and reliable employees. Employers profit from a skilled and confident workforce that thinks like entrepreneurs. Teachers with access to a proven business curriculum have more to offer in their classrooms. Volunteers report life changing experiences when mentoring JA students. And JA alumni are more employable, create more businesses, see longer and better business results, and earn higher salaries than non-JA students.
More than ten million young people with bigger dreams and brighter futures, who are transforming their communities: That’s the promise of JA.
Earlier this year, Sir Richard Branson, one of the world’s great entrepreneurs, called for a “transformation of education to create more effective outcomes for students,” and then cited JA as the model framework through which to achieve such a transformation. “Not only do they inspire passionate young people,” Sir Richard said of JA, but “they fuel the entrepreneurial spirit and cultivate a culture of success.”
Transforming education to produce highly effective outcomes for young people has never been more important, with global youth unemployment at an all-time high. Plagued by joblessness, one-third of the world’s 1.8 billion young people—ages 15 to 29—are either not working, not in school, or not in a training program. That’s 600 million young people without the ability, skills, or opportunity to earn a living for themselves and contribute to their communities.
JA is uniquely positioned to stem the tide of this global crisis. Research shows that beginning financial education at a young age has a significant impact on financial health later in life, so JA’s hands-on, role-playing curriculum begins with exposure to smart saving and investing, thoughtful spending and credit, the role of taxes, the value of employment and community involvement, and the opportunities of global trade.
Our financially savvy students are then ready to learn critical work skills—entrepreneurial thinking, collaboration, creativity, self-confidence, and discipline—that prepare them for college, trade school, or the workforce. JA students job shadow skilled mentors, challenge themselves and their teammates during technical and business workshops, and test their skills through multiple channels and experiences. As a result, they’re ready to compete not only for the highly skilled positions available today but also for the high-tech jobs of the future.
Baked into the breadth of JA programs is our celebrated focus on the soft enablers that drive the future of jobs. We’re talking about soft skills like hard work, personal integrity, and learnability that lead to an overwhelmingly positive attitude and self-concept—what we call the “I can” attitude— that ensures every student’s full employment and financial health.
This “I can” attitude sets students up for our flagship JA Company Program, through which young people create real companies with real products, often in their first experience with entrepreneurship, product development, small-business finance, and equity valuation. Now taught in over 100 countries, some JA regions also serve university students and out-of-school youth through variations of the Company Program, with tailored programs for launching startups and embarking on entrepreneurial careers. Many of these young people will be the job creators of the future.
Over the last few years, we’ve witnessed a noteworthy shift in our students’ priorities: many award-winners from the JA Company Program and StartUp Program now develop products that address a social market opportunity or have a clear social mission, which will help meet the challenge of reaching the 2030 Global Goals for Sustainable Development. One such dynamic company built and sold electrical adapters to reduce the cost and environmental impact of plugged-in appliances that consume energy, even when turned off.
JA students show us time and again that they’re not only interested in improving their financial situations; they’re interested in improving the world. As they raise their ambitions beyond themselves, we’ve accelerated young peoples’ natural instinct to solve social issues by adding awards and incentives for social entrepreneurship, catalyzing our 475,000 Company Program participants to design entrepreneurial solutions that profit from both local and global opportunities.
As you can see throughout this annual report, JA’s global strengths are considerable. Our passionate staff and dedicated volunteers have unparalleled access to schools, enabling us to impact the lives of more than 10 million young people every year. We’re leveraging our global, regional, and local connections to create an ecosystem of experiential programs that’s driven by teachers, experienced volunteers, policymakers, and the private sector. At the same time that we’re deepening our relationships with our funders, we’re forging new partnerships with high-tech startups, universities, and like-minded change agents.
To address the work still ahead of us, we’ve rolled out a strategic plan that capitalizes on our untapped strengths. That means working to connect and mobilize our estimated 100 million-plus alumni to be mentors to today’s students. We’re also starting to leverage JA’s broad distribution network to schools and educators by incubating, testing, and scaling up local pockets of creative approaches to digital/mobile technology, blended learning, and omni-channel programming.
And, finally, we’re marshalling the inspiring thought leaders working on our global staff, serving on our boards, funding our programs, and mentoring our students to help us give JA even more visibility. For nearly 100 years, JA has been on the cutting edge of entrepreneurial, career, and financial education. It’s time for the world to see us as Richard Branson has: “a wonderful model, which through providing a project-based, highly engaging, and relevant education is helping students find their passions, grow their purpose, and realise their dreams.”
Francesco Vanni d’Archirafi
Chair, Board of Governors, JA Worldwide;
CEO, Citi Holdings
President and CEO, JA Worldwide
JA funders support the development of work-readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial-literacy programs and help build capacity among our lean staff. Our staff, in turn, successfully engage, train, and support educators and volunteers, leading to more than 150 million student-contact hours and 10 million-plus student experiences.
Our federated model of operation is one of our greatest assets. Each local JA entity operates independently, with its own fiduciary board, yet is part of a global family of members linked by a common mission, member agreement, and code of conduct. With a network of over 100 member countries, we leverage the power and know-how of nearly 3,600 staff so that innovation in one location is readily available to another. We dismiss the “not invented here“ mentality to advance capability across varied geographies and cultures.
The financial statements below do not include the finances of member countries and represent only a fraction of the size and strength of the global network. In aggregate, the JA Global Network generates revenue over $326 million, which fuels innovations and builds JA capacity through unrestricted support of operations, programmatic support, and in-kind donations. Member countries benefit from global funds raised by JA Worldwide, which totaled $11 million in 2016. For country-by-country data, see our 2016 Factbook.
Our diverse partnerships and sponsorships enhance and grow educational programs, enable the development and launch of new JA locations, and provide backing for innovation. In addition, our funders join regional and local boards and volunteer directly with students. The effects of each contribution—through funding, collaborations, and volunteering—flow through the entire organization and empowers us to further our mission effectively. Find out more about our unique collaboration by clicking on each logo below.
Corporations, foundations, government agencies, and individuals supported JA with over $326 million in funding, which supported JA Worldwide, six regional operating centers, and more than 100 member countries.