Junior Achievement of Arkansas

Preparing the Future Workforce

America’s Car-Mart and Junior Achievement Help Kids Learn Financial Literacy

Debit card or credit card. Wants versus needs. Balancing a checkbook.

Kids from elementary to high school are learning all this and more, thanks to Junior Achievement. It’s all about ensuring students are work ready and financially literate by the time they graduate from high school.

America’s Car-Mart has partnered with JA of Arkansas to deliver a Car-Mart-inspired JA All About Cars course to junior high and high school students at Central Junior High School, Springdale, and Conway High School. The course teaches kids about the car-buying process, including financing, vehicle payments, insurance, buying vs. leasing, maintenance, and ownership costs.

Additionally, Car-Mart volunteers will teach JA Our City to third graders at Woodrow Cummins Elementary School, Conway. This program introduces students to financial literacy and grade-level social studies learning objectives, including how people manage their money and the importance of economic exchange within a city.

Barry Baggett, Senior Marketing Manager at Car-Mart, with Tonya Villines, President, Junior Achievement of Arkansas
Barry Baggett, Senior Marketing Manager at Car-Mart, with Tonya Villines, President, Junior Achievement of Arkansas

In fact, Junior Achievement (JA) exists to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy. Their three main pillars are entrepreneurship, financial literacy, and work/career readiness.

“It’s our responsibility as a community to build financial wellness at an early stage,” says Tonya Villines, President, Junior Achievement of Arkansas. “Financial literacy is so important, especially right now. So many families are struggling. It’s a real issue.”

“It’s a great partnership for us at Car-Mart. Financial literacy is an important topic no matter your age,” says Vickie Judy, Chief Financial Officer, America’s Car-Mart, Inc. “JA is focused on ensuring all kids have a solid foundation of money management and more. At Car-Mart, we’re focused on the financial success of our own customers and improving the communities they live and work in.”

“We are preparing students for their future jobs and personal lives,” Tonya adds. “We are building a financial foundation, and we’re focused on workforce readiness. We have to prepare our youth to be able to compete in a global economy. We want to make the workforce stronger. We’re building the future workforce for Car-Mart and other companies.”

Volunteers are the ‘game changers’ for Junior Achievement

“Our secret sauce is our volunteers in everything we do, from fund raising to board leadership,” says Tonya, who joined JA in 2011. “And it’s our volunteer teachers who bring that extra magic to the kids. They bring passion and love for the students.”

The volunteer teachers also share their stories and real-world knowledge. Many teachers establish meaningful relationships with their students.

Tonya notes that one out of three students who participate in the JA training are now working in the same field as their JA volunteer. “JA is something they will never forget,” says Tonya, while adding her two children participated in JA and came home excited about their special day with their JA volunteers.

“When kids have mentors, it shows them what their future could look like. They then have the confidence to live out their dreams,” Tonya remarks.

JA at school – It’s a great day for students and volunteers

Barry Baggett, Senior Marketing Manager, teaching during a Junior Achievement class in Springdale, Ark.
Barry Baggett, Senior Marketing Manager, teaching during a Junior Achievement class in Springdale, Ark.

Serving as a volunteer teacher is fun, according to Barry Baggett, Senior Marketing Manager, Car-Mart. “Kids really connect with how much things cost,” Barry says. “They want to learn more about how the world works, and Junior Achievement provides engaging content at their grade level. We help them make informed decisions in their lives so they can position themselves for success.”

Barry recalls a student who (during the class exercise on wants vs. needs) had selected to purchase a fancy convertible and have his spouse take public transportation. “Together, we decided that’s not practical, and we picked more realistic vehicles, so they both could drive to work.”

Junior Achievement of Arkansas 2022; by the numbers

  • 700 classes
  • 62 schools
  • 15,050 students
  • 533 teachers
  • 300+ volunteers

A virtual career fair reached over 7,200 students at 14 school districts with 105 teachers.

Want to be a role model and help young people?

Learn more about Junior Achievement and get involved in a community near you. Read the full press release.

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