Teen Entrepreneurs of Ruff it Up Named "JA Company of the Year" at 2014 Junior Achievement National Student Leadership Summit

Colorado Springs, Colo. On Wednesday, June 18, at Washington, D.C.'s Ronald Reagan International Center, the teen entrepreneurs of Ruff it Up representing Junior Achievement of Georgia were selected from among 15 JA student companies as the "JA Company of the Year" at Junior Achievement USA's (JA) National Student Leadership Summit (NSLS). The JA of Georgia students founded a company that makes affordable and durable dog tug-of-war toys from t-shirts. Competing at the event in two competition tracks were 24 JA student teams comprised of nearly 100 teen entrepreneurs, representing 14 Junior Achievement operations from across the United States.

Junior Achievement's National Student Leadership Summit is a contest of business skills, ingenuity and innovation that focuses on the accomplishments of U.S. JA Company Program ®, JA Be Entrepreneurial® students, ages 15-19, during the 2013-2014 academic year. Currently reaching a total of nearly 35, 000 U.S. students annually, JA Company Program and JA Be Entrepreneurial give teens the skills to start and run their own businesses under the mentorship of a local business volunteer.

During the week in Washington, D.C., the teens participated in a trade fair on Capitol Hill where the teams promoted their products. Numerous Members of Congress and congressional staff visited the trade fair to tour the teens' trade booths. The teens' companies were evaluated on their financial performance, on a formal presentation to the judging panel and on an interview with the judges.

"At this competition, Junior Achievement is empowering these teen entrepreneurs to own their economic success through business ownership. It is an exciting opportunity for Junior Achievement students to demonstrate the teamwork, leadership and innovative thinking that will help them drive success in the business world, " said Jack E. Kosakowski, president and chief executive officer of Junior Achievement USA.

The following awards were presented last night at the Ronald Reagan International Center, capping the three-day summit. The 2014 JA National Student Leadership Summit awards were presented to:

  • JA Company of the Year: Awarded to the student businesses that most effectively demonstrated their companies' achievements as well as the personal development of each team member.
    • 1st Place: Ruff it Up from JA of Georgia
    • 2nd Place: Swipe ID from JA of Southern California
    • 3rd Place: Nalu from JA of San Diego County
  • JA National Business Plan Challenge: A newly added track to the 2014 NSLS and sponsored by the Sam's Club Giving Program, this award was won by the student team that best demonstrated an understanding of business fundamentals, the importance of creatively marketing to a target audience, and the power of persuading potential investors during a live pitch.
    • 1st place: Belt-ED from JA of Georgia
    • 2nd place: Frame Me from JA of Georgia
    • 3rd place: Hack School from JA of Northern California
  • NYSE Best Financial Performance Award: Presented by the NYSE Euronext Foundation and awarded to the student team that performed the best against a high-level set of criteria, including profitability, stockholder expectations, employee earnings, product quality, leadership and operational efficiency.
    • Ruff it Up from JA of Georgia
  • FedEx Access Award: Presented by FedEx and awarded to the student team with the best business plan demonstrating potential for job creation, growing small business and expanding global development.
    • Nalu from JA of San Diego County created surfboard wax from environmentally friendly ingredients.
  • Social Innovation Award: Presented by Microsoft YouthSpark (www.microsoft.com/youthspark) and awarded to the student team that created a solution to address a local, national, or global social concern. Teams were assessed on innovation and on their one-page concept consisting of text, images, photos, and/or graphics. Companies demonstrated how they applied entrepreneurial thinking to create a realistic, achievable, and innovative solution and described lessons learned from the experience.
    • Swipe ID students from Westlake High School representing JA of Southern California created a points-reward program to boost school spirit and academic performance.
  • Social Media Award: Presented to String It! from Junior Achievement of Chicago for generating the most likes, shares, and "tweets" during the Summit.

In JA Company Program, students start and run a real business enterprise under the guidance of a volunteer from the local business community. They devise and market a product or service and sell stock in their company. In JA Be Entrepreneurial, high school students develop a start-up enterprise and business plan as they learn how to conduct market research and identify and leverage competitive advantages. The NSLS event was sponsored by FedEx, NYSE Euronext Foundation, the Sam's Club Giving Program, and Microsoft.

To view photos and videos from the JA National Student Leadership Summit, please visit www.facebook.com/JuniorAchievementUSA.

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