We can never start preparing our kids too soon for the future. That’s exactly what the Junior Achievement Program is doing for students all across our state and the nation.

The Junior Achievement Program works with kids Kindergarten through twelfth grade. They focus on three main areas: work-readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy skills. It partners local teachers with volunteers from the business and civic community to help teach students these skills.

Erin Oban, the District Manager of JA in Bismarck and Mandan says, “I think sometimes we don’t know how much kids are capable of until we give them the opportunity.”

The Junior Achievement program explains life head-on at each stage with a focus on finances and student preparedness.

Oban says, “We will talk to kindergartners about the importance of why their parents have jobs and help to buy them things like having a home or putting food on the table. In third and fourth grade we teach them the importance of being active in their community and why cities are the way they are and how money goes through a community. Middle School we teach about budgeting and living in a budget. Up in high school, we actually have youth in the community who are starting their own companies, so they are student lead companies that they work on throughout a semester.”

KX talked to one of the JA volunteers who says connecting with the youth is essential to helping them succeed in the future.

JA volunteer David Leingang says, “You can’t really blame the next generation if you don’t do anything to try and impact them. And that’s the greatest card I can play is stepping into the schools saying not only ‘hi’ to the kids but the teachers as well and creating a stronger community within.”

That next generation is jumping at the opportunity, especially the students of Mrs. Hafner’s Mandan Middle School class.

Ethan Parker, Mandan Middle School student, says, “I think that Junior Achievement is amazing especially with Mrs. Hafner because she is always telling us not to be the employee but employer and to start our own business instead of someone else controlling their success. You can control your success.”

Talyia Long, M Mandan Middle School student, says, “The most important thing I have learned through Junior Achievement is that trade school and apprenticeship and the military–like you can be successful doing those too and not just in college.”

“Most kids have a bubble of consciousness of the world around them but if you can learn how to spread it around you can learn more stuff,” adds Nia Lee, Mandan Middle School student.

This program is completely free of charge because of generous donations from people in the community. The program is offered Bismarck, Mandan, Fargo, and satellite operations in Minot and Moorehead.

They are looking for more volunteers, and all that is required is a passion for teaching students and making a difference. For more information, click here.