The Journal Gazette
Monday, September 09, 2019 1:00 am

Five questions for Lena Yarian

President, Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana

1 What is Junior Achievement?Junior Achievement is the world's largest organization dedicated to educating students about entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy through experiential, hands-on programs.

The JA programs help prepare young people for the real world by showing them how to generate wealth and effectively manage it, how to create jobs which make their communities more robust, and how to apply entrepreneurial thinking to the workplace. Students put these lessons into action and learn the value of contributing to their communities.


2 Who and where does the organization serve?

Locally, we serve over 140,000 pre-K to grade 12 students in 30 counties (27 in Indiana, two in Michigan and one in Ohio), making this the seventh-largest operation in the nation and No. 1 in student market penetration.


3 Tell us about the summer events JA offered for young entrepreneurs. Were they successful?

We began the summer with Lemonade Day in DeKalb, Noble, Whitley and Allen counties with 800 area youth rolling up their sleeves and running their very own business – a lemonade stand.

Students set a goal, created a budget, learned about expense, found an investor, chose a site and built their stand. On May 11 these students operated their own lemonade business. In the end, the students paid back their investors and were encouraged to save, spend and share their profits by selecting a nonprofit to support.

On Saturday, July 20, over 50 youth, representing 30 businesses, set up to sell their goods and services at the Junior Achievement Young Entrepreneur Marketplace held at Freimann Square. This new opportunity allowed school-aged youth through age 21 to participate in a one-day marketplace... . These student businesses included a wide variety of unique, hand-crafted goods and services such as specialty dessert sauces, handmade jewelry, computer repair, fresh flower arrangements, clothing, art, gifts and accessories, just to name a few. The young entrepreneurs ... represent Allen, Adams, DeKalb, Huntington, Steuben and Wabash counties. 

4 You are starting the school year in a new location – what are the features of your new building at Coldwater and Wallen roads?

The new facility is energizing and inspirational for students and includes larger and more interactive JA BizTown and Lincoln Finance Park. These two highly experiential facilities now allow students to have a deeper understanding of the various areas of budgeting and of careers in our region.

Also in the new facility are “Invented Here” displays showcasing the items invented in our region. It also has three interactive photo-booth exhibits which connect students and volunteers to those who have been inducted into the Junior Achievement Hall of Fame. ... As students explore these exhibits, they will recognize the tradition of creativity and innovation within their community, strengthen their sense of regional pride, and see themselves as a part of something impressive and exciting.

The new campus also includes the Baeckgaard Education Atrium, which features hot jobs and pathways to enter into these career clusters. ...

Also new is the SDI Entrepreneur Center, which will inspire innovative thinkers and entrepreneurs. Although entrepreneurship has always been a focus, the past two years JA has launched several new entrepreneurial programs.


5 How can northeast Indiana residents support JA?

Junior Achievement's approach allows volunteers from the community to deliver the JA curriculum while sharing their experiences with students. ... (C)lassroom volunteers transform the key concepts of the JA lessons into a message that inspires and empowers students to believe in themselves, and raises the bar within them of what they can do in the future.

... JA is always in need of individuals who want to make a difference in a child's life. It is easy, fun and so rewarding. JA volunteers come from all walks of life... . Volunteers truly are the backbone to Junior Achievement.

Junior Achievement annually must secure over $3.6 million to support the JA programs so individuals can support JA through fundraisers such as the upcoming Achieve-A-Bowl, or business and individuals can also donate directly on our website at

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