It all starts with a lemonade stand for grade 4 students in the Foothills, as the Junior Achievement program works with kids from elementary to high school on critical financial and entrepreneurial skills.

Program Coordinator with JA for elementary and middle school, Maureen McCann says it's not just about studying theory, kids are able to take the helm on a myriad of financial projects.

"In grade 4 we start with the lemonade stand example, determining the costs, expenses, income and getting your profit. In grade 5 we start to look at businesses as a viable career option and how they operate and thrive in communities. In the grade 6 program, students actually create their own business in groups within the class. They'll run that business for a six week period, they create, develop and market the business typically at a school fair."

McCann says that once students have a grasp at managing a basic business, they begin to learn some more advanced concepts.

"The grade 7 program looks at debt, investment vehicles and stocks. We start to look at differences between debit cards and credit cards and open up that conversation about personal finance and how it impacts our lives."

Students also learn skills for dealing with a diverse group of people at a workplace and how to network their abilities to prospective employers.

Starting in grade 8 and throughout high school, the JA program introduces their students to the stock market and McCann says local kids are traditionally quite successful in this regard.

"In grades 8 through 12 we start to look at the stock market, what stocks are good to look at and the importance of a diverse portfolio. We then give them a six week period to compete across Canada in a national competition and the Foothills region is usually the Alberta winner, which we think is awesome."

The JA program has been in Calgary since the 1960s, however the program itself is reaching it's 100 year anniversary in 2019.


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