This year, AT&T and Junior Achievement (JA) are celebrating a 100-year-old collaboration, spanning from the industrial revolution of the early 20th century to the technology-driven fourth industrial revolution of tomorrow.

AT&T's connection to JA goes back to the very beginning, when then-AT&T President Theodore Newton Vail co-founded the nonprofit youth organization in 1919. Vail, along with Winthrop Crane and Horace Moses, created JA during a time when the United States was facing a rapid transformation, moving from an agrarian society to the business and technology-oriented society that we know today.

However, this would prove to be a difficult transition for many Americans who had previously made a living through farming or manufacturing. Most American families lacked business experience entirely, aside from what they’d learned by selling the crops they had grown or working on an assembly line. 

Theodore Vail understood that the country needed a new kind of workforce, one designed to meet the rapidly changing needs of an evolving economy. He and his co-founders had an idea – they’d create a new type of institution that would help to prepare an entire generation of young adults for a career in the business world.  

Over 100 years, Junior Achievement would grow to become one of the world's largest organizations dedicated to preparing young people for success in the global economy. JA's unique, volunteer-centric programs connect thousands of business professionals around the world with interested students, helping them to grow, and inspiring the next generation of economic and civic change makers.

Since 1919, AT&T has been a leading supporter of Junior Achievement, working with JA to create 'job shadowing' opportunities that bring students into the world of business through classroom instruction followed by on-site mentoring. During their job shadowing, students get to interact with a wide range of AT&T employees, including technical and customer service representatives, product and service managers, and marketing and advertising executives.

"Over the last 100 years, our business has undergone a series of transformations, evolving into the modern technology, media and telecommunications company that we are today,” said Mylayna Albright, AVP Corporate Social Responsibility, AT&T. “One thing that’s remained constant, however, is our need for a talented, skilled workforce. One of the best ways we can help today’s students succeed in the modern economy is to help ensure that they see the connection between what they are learning in school and what will be required of them in the workplace. For a century, Junior Achievement has been doing just that."

Today, as our society is on the cusp of the 4th industrial revolution - a transition that will bring forth a world of artificial intelligence, automation and the Internet of Things - JA's mission to grow and shape the workforce of the future is as critical as it has ever been. By working with organizations like Junior Achievement, AT&T remains dedicated to building a better future, full of opportunity and achievement for young people across the country.