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Published May 2006

Junior Achievement answers
call for financial literacy

By David Moore
Guest Editorial

Junior Achievement addresses the need to increase financial and economic literacy among young people and does so in a manner that allows for meaningful connections between education, work and life.

The Junior Achievement program brings the basics of the free-enterprise system, personal finance realities and work-force preparation to students in grades K-12. Volunteers from the local business community combine their real-world experience with Junior Achievementís accredited curriculum to enhance the education of more than 105,000 students in Washington.

A review of current statistics on the financial literacy of American youth, and their families, reveals a shocking lack of money management skills. The inescapable conclusion is that Americaís latest generation of young adults is poorly prepared to face the economic realities that are about to confront it.

Consider these facts:

  • Teens will spend $159 billion this year, according to the TRU Study, the nationís premier teen marketing and lifestyle survey published by Teenage Research Unlimited (TRU).
  • In a survey of college students, 45 percent have credit card debt, with an average amount of $3,066, according to U.S. Senate research in 2003.
  • University administrators state that they lose more students to credit card debt than to academic failure, in a Nellie Mae survey in 2003.
  • More young adults filed for bankruptcy than graduated from college in 2001, reports the American Banking Association.

In an effort to reverse these trends, Junior Achievement programs in Western Washington impact the lives of more than 100,000 local youth. While that number is remarkable, even more remarkable is that there still are 600,000 youth not reached.

Thatís why Junior Achievementís core mission is to inspire kids all over the world ó including Snohomish County ó to create lives that enrich us all by being informed about our free-enterprise system and how to accomplish basic goals such as handling credit cards, checking accounts, financing and debt.

In Snohomish County, more than 14,000 students will have Junior Achievement programs in their classroom in the 2005-06 school year. That leaves 85,000 students in Snohomish County without Junior Achievement education, a program that teachers widely support.

On June 7, there will be a Bankers Junior Achievement Day, where bankers from the community will come together for one day during that week to teach Junior Achievement programs at local elementary schools.

Recognizing the fact that todayís youth need to be educated in areas of financial literacy, members of the banking community are able to provide a unique and important perspective as Junior Achievement volunteers and role models. The Bankers Junior Achievement Day schedule not only allows for employees to limit their time away from their banks to one day, but also allows colleagues to teach at the same school.

Seventy-five percent of Junior Achievement programs in the county are held in the Mukilteo, Edmonds and Everett school districts, and there is a growing demand for volunteers in the Lakewood, Marysville and Stanwood school districts.

Financial contributions to Junior Achievement and volunteers for the board of directors in Snohomish County and classroom presenters are always needed to reach more of those who do not have Junior Achievement programs available.

For more information, contact Ryan Moore, the Snohomish County Junior Achievement director, at ryanm@jawashington.org or call 206-296-2608.

David Moore is president of Junior Achievement of Washington. For more information on the organization, go online to www.jawashington.org.

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