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70% of Teens Don’t Have Basic Understanding of 401Ks

Junior Achievement Survey Also Shows "Cash is Still King" as Payment Method for Teens

April, 2017

Portland, OR — When did you start saving for retirement? Were you ever given information to help explain your options? According to Junior Achievement’s 2017 Teens & Personal Finance Survey, a large disconnect exists between young people and a basic understanding of 401Ks. Although thirty percent of teens know that a 401K is a retirement plan where the employee contributes a certain amount and the employer matches, the majority (70%) of teens don’t know what a 401K is based on anything that they have read or heard. The survey of 1,000 U.S. teens between the ages of 13 and 17 was conducted March 17-21, 2017 by Junior Achievement USA and ORC International.

"Some may wonder why it’s important for teens to know how a 401K works, but the fact is if you are a 17-year-old, within the next few years you may have the opportunity to contribute to one.” said Jack E. Kosakowski, president and CEO of Junior Achievement USA. “One of the reasons Americans don’t save enough for retirement is that they get started too late. By teaching teens today about the importance of contributing to 401Ks and IRAs starting with their first job, we may be able to start addressing that issue."

Another finding shows that more than 3 in 5 teens (62%) prefer to use cash when purchasing items in a store. Fewer than 1 in 3 (29%) said they use a credit/debit card, far fewer (4%) use an electronic form of payment such as Apple Pay, Google Wallet, or PayPal, or use a check (1%). Five percent weren’t sure. Despite today’s access to technology, cash is still a preferred method of payment for teens. This means that they do not have much experience with interest and fee bearing methods of payment. The education of using these payment methods responsibly is very important before reaching adulthood.

Junior Achievement is the nation's largest organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to categorize needs and wants, own their economic success, plan for their futures, and make smart academic and economic choices. Junior Achievement's programs—in the core content areas of work readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy—ignite the spark in young people to experience and realize the opportunities and realities of work and life in the 21st century.

Junior Achievement of Oregon and SW Washington serves students throughout the region, with comprehensive, volunteer-led classroom lessons as well as programs that blend in-class learning with a one-day economic simulation. Our current program offerings include K-12 JA In-Class programs, JA BizTown, JA Finance Park, and the Stock Market Challenge. For more information check out The Money JAR podcast at


This report presents the findings of an Opinion Research Corporation’s Youth CARAVAN survey conducted among a sample of 1,000 13-17 year olds. Respondents for this survey are selected from among those who have volunteered to participate in online surveys and polls. Because the sample is based on those who initially self-selected for participation, no estimates of sampling error are calculated.


Junior Achievement Recognizes Steve Gray With Gold Leadership Award For Outstanding Service

March, 2017

Junior Achievement of Oregon & SW Washington (JA) has announced that Steve Gray has been chosen for the organization’s most prestigious national award for volunteerism, the Gold Leadership Award. A truly special and well-deserved honor, Gray is one of 11 recipients nationally this year out of more than 237,000 JA USA volunteers. Junior Achievement’s Gold Leadership Award honors volunteer excellence, recognizing leadership in support of JA’s student impact, resources, operational excellence and sustainability.

Steve Gray, a Senior Vice President with Key Bank, has been a volunteer and member of the JA Board of Directors for over 20 years, performing nearly every volunteer role in the organization and holding nearly every board office over those years. Gray is currently the longest-tenured director of the local organization, now in his 21st year. During Gray’s tenure the organization has grown from serving 29,000 students to 44,000 students annually.

"Steve Gray is a very high-integrity person and leader who is highly regarded by his peer board members and JA Staff. He has significantly advanced our mission and work and we are grateful for his service," said John Hancock, President of JA of Oregon & SW Washington.

Gray was an active Company Program volunteer in the organization’s after-school program during the 1980s and 1990s. Since then, Gray has continued to be a program volunteer in a variety of JA classroom settings. Over the past 15 years, he has been a key leader, active Executive Committee member and Board Chair. Hancock also stated, "Stewardship is big theme in Steve’s life and he has brought that to JA, always driving a high level of operational efficiency. He has had a key role in strengthening JA’s partnership with Key Bank, one of the organization’s largest corporate partners."

"KeyBank has been a long-time supporter of Junior Achievement, most recently as the first contributor to fund the design and construction of the statewide mobile financial literacy education unit. Steve has been a stellar liaison between JA and Key and a passionate advocate for its work with youth," said Michelle Weisenbach, President of KeyBank of Oregon & SW Washington.

Gray will be presented with the Gold Leadership Award at Junior Achievement’s National Volunteer Summit on March 7 in New York City

Junior Achievement of Oregon & SW Washington - 7830 SE Foster Road, Portland, OR 97206 - Phone: 503-238-6430 - Fax: 503-233-3811 -
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