04/12/2012 07:00 pm ET | Updated Jun 12, 2012

Helping Our Young People Secure a Financially Stable Future

Our young people look to their parents for inspiration and guidance. When we're young, the world seems limitless, and one of the most important jobs a parent has is to nurture their child's dreams that they can do and be whatever they want.

That is the gift of youth, the time for optimism and hope.

Yet a new survey conducted by Junior Achievement USA® and The Allstate Foundation shows us our teens are thinking differently -- at least in terms of their financial security and independence. Teens are no longer as confident in their ability to achieve financial freedom. The survey of more than 1,000 14-18 year-old teens found that only 56 percent think they will be as financially well-off or better than their parents. That represents a 37 percent drop from 2011.

What happened to the dream of a better tomorrow? How do we help our teens -- our future -- get it back?

Despite recent reports that this will be the first generation in a century that is unlikely to end up better off financially than its parents, our young people have the opportunity to shape their own futures, as long as they have the skills, knowledge and confidence to do so.

Since parents are still the number-one source of money-management information for youth, according to teens in our survey, it is vital for parents to continue to open a dialogue with their children about smart money-management practices. By many counts, the economy is looking up, so let's make sure our young adults are following suit -- learning about money management, understanding the importance of saving and using a budget.

Junior Achievement works closely with educators and with the business community to deliver our programs to four million U.S. youth annually. To learn more about what JA is doing in your community, please visit