Community Connections: Junior Achievement |

Community Connections: Junior Achievement

Kelly Latterman
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

Mission statement: Junior Achievement empowers young people to own their economic success. Our volunteer-delivered, K-12 programs foster work-readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy skills, and use experiential learning to inspire kids to dream big and reach their potential.

The COVID-19 economic shutdown highlighted just how at-risk most Americans are when it comes to financial security. While there’s no way to be 100% prepared to weather a historic decline in the economy, the fact is too many Americans lack the financial capability to withstand even a typical hardship; research shows that 43% of American adults aren’t deemed financially literate.

This points to a more significant problem for a system that’s success is dependent on individuals borrowing to pay for college, using mortgages for homeownership and saving for their own retirements. 

At this moment, this generation’s perceptions of our country and what it stands for are being shaped in ways that will define their entire lives. The question is, “Will those perceptions be of hope, opportunity, and unlimited possibilities?” Or, will they be something else entirely. 

JA’s innovative programs led by inspiring community volunteers are instilling confidence and hope. 

This spring when our schools pivoted to online learning, JA began offering free videos and other digital resources that teachers could use in their virtual classrooms or share with students’ families to implement at home.

We created standalone activities and worksheets which can be accessed on-demand as well as video-guided programs that closely follow our usual in-classroom programs and can be tailored to teacher requests.

At Yampa Valley High School, the personal finance curriculum quickly moved online and the class met with their JA volunteer through Google Classroom. The students were able to engage remotely in conversations about financial health and wellness and learn money-management strategies, including earning, employment and income, budgeting, savings, credit and debt, consumer protection and investing. 

In addition to highlighting the tremendous need for JA, the crisis has significantly affected how we fulfill our mission.  Although current circumstances are challenging on so many levels, JA continues to equip young people with the practical knowledge and skills they will need to persevere. 

The ongoing need for JA is underscored by the significant demand we receive from educators, parents and students for programming. To meet their requests, we embraced our own entrepreneurial spirit to adjust, and continue to adapt as schools move forward with the hybrid model learning model this fall.

This fall, expect to see JA continue to offer programming free of charge to students in classrooms in Steamboat Springs, Hayden and South Routt school districts. Our volunteers may not be physically in the classrooms, but they will be present via prerecorded videos to supplement the kit of materials and detailed lesson plans we provide to teachers. 

We would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to the many local professionals and entrepreneurs who serve as volunteers, sharing their thoughts and advice about career paths, overcoming obstacles and seizing opportunities with students K-12. We would love for you to join us. For more information, visit

Kelly Latterman is the Junior Achievement district manager, Routt County. In this role, she provides training to local volunteers and pairs them with teachers who request JA programming. She also raises funds to ensure JA’s programs can continue to be offered free of charge to all students in Routt County. 

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