By Tamas Mondovics

Included in the list of most memorable events for many Tampa Bay area fifth-grade students is a trip to JA BizTown, a place that literally allows children to work a business for the day from start to finish.

Proving its effectiveness and continued success, Junior Achievement (JA), the largest financial literacy provider for young people in the world, has proudly reported a strong year serving Tampa Bay Area students in 2014-2015.

In a recent release, the organization celebrated its 50th anniversary, while boasting of empowering 94,579 students with financial literacy, entrepreneurship and work readiness programs during the 2014-15 school year.

In terms of students reached, Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay ranked at 11 out of 115 JA areas in the country.

JA of Tampa Bay has also reported 27 consecutive years of growth in number of students served, while instructional hours totaled over 900,000.

To top off the list, 39 percent of all students in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties received a Junior Achievement program.

“Our goal is to provide professionally prepared financial literacy, workforce preparation and entrepreneurship programs to more children,” said JA of Tampa Bay President Richard George. “Twenty-seven years in a row, we have grown our program. It’s about young people and their futures. It’s all about bringing real programs to K-12 students and accounting for them accurately.”

Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay was also pleased to receive a $6,000 grant from the Travelers Foundation, the charitable arm of Travelers.

JA officials said that the grant will enable 200 Hillsborough County middle school students to participate in JA Economics for Success to be taught by JA trained Travelers employees and associates. 

JA Economics for Success is a program that demonstrates the importance of staying in school, completing one’s education, and the impact on future earnings potential. Junior Achievement offers 21 programs that are age and grade level appropriate. The programs are delivered by local volunteers who are trained by JA staff and spend an hour per week for five to seven weeks or one entire day in the classroom. 

“We supply materials and online activities,” George said. “With support from the corporate community and schools, Junior Achievement provides a comprehensive curriculum that also emphasizes the importance of staying in school.”

With last year’s numbers reaching nearly 100,000 students, JA of Tampa Bay is confident of future success. Visit jatampabay.org or www.travelers.com.