JA Celebrates 70 Years With Record Fundraising

GIRARD, Ohio – Junior Achievement celebrated 70 years in the Mahoning Valley in 2022, a year that saw the organization change its name, raise record funds and deliver programming in career readiness, financial literacy and entrepreneurship.

During the 2021-2022 school year, JA programs served 9,725 students in 331 classrooms across four counties – Ashtabula, Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull. To better reflect the entire geographic region, the local organization is now known as Junior Achievement of Eastern Ohio.

“We feel the new name and brand will resonate with our educators and partners and bring new opportunities throughout all four counties that we serve,” says Melissa Maki, chairman of Junior Achievement of Eastern Ohio.

Michele Merkel, CEO of Junior Achievement of Eastern Ohio, points out the organization has significantly evolved throughout the years, which led to the decision to rebrand.

“We’ve worked closely with our partners in education, business and the community to ensure that we deliver proven, life-changing learning experiences to students,” says Merkel. “This process, which includes the use of innovative learning technology, accelerated over the course of the pandemic.”

For the 2023-24 school year, JA has designed coursework to fulfill the requirements of Ohio’s financial literacy mandate. Students entering ninth grade will be required to complete a minimum of 60-credit hours in subjects that lead to financial literacy.

Through fundraisers including the second annual Swing Fore JA Golf Classic and fifth annual JA Designer Bag Bingo events, JA was able to provide programs to more than 5,000 students. Additionally, the organization, which operates with only five staff members and hundreds of volunteers, was awarded a $100,000 state grant for a program that aims to increase graduation rates in Ashtabula County.