While I was initially encouraged by the youth finance education story headline in the April 20 Bulletin, the article text was disappointing, with Junior Achievement lumped into the category of ineffective programming.

Junior Achievement program efficacy has been measured over many years in ongoing survey results. JA high school students routinely score over 10 percent higher than peers on financial literacy assessments. JA programming also supports improved graduation rates with 82 percent of teachers and 8 out of 10 JA students saying that JA reinforces the importance of staying in school. A personal anecdote is that my own career path in banking was chosen because of participation in a JA job shadow program back in the 1980s.

Some might contend that financial literacy and education is not the most important topic for today’s classroom. I would respond by saying that, especially after emerging from the worst financial crisis in our lifetimes, investing time to teach our students how to become responsible financial stewards and future leaders of our community has never been more critical.

For almost 100 years, supported exclusively by private donations, Junior Achievement has successfully educated youth on financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship, partnering with schools and parents to improve students’ and our communities’ financial futures.

In support of our local classrooms and educators, I invite The Bulletin to learn more about the great work Junior Achievement is doing locally to ensure the success of Central Oregon students.

Gary O’Connell, Advisory Board Chair, Junior Achievement of Central Oregon