How Your Service Today Can Make a Difference for Future Generations

09/09/2010 04:45 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

For many kids and parents, back to school time is marked with anticipation and a sense of opportunity and hope for the future. Kids are eager to make new friends, get good grades and participate in activities that will help them achieve a successful career and fulfilling lives. Parents are also full of excitement and hope for their children. For many parents, this is a time of reflection on the contributions they can make to their children's success and the communities in which they live.

September 11th is also a time of reflection for many Americans and is now a day in which we can collectively take actions to better our country. The National Day of Service, which started two years ago, serves as an opportunity for all of us to give back to our communities and achieve a renewed sense of purpose.

To date, the program has been successful in increasing volunteerism. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the beginning of this year that about 63.4 million people, or 26.8 percent of the population, volunteered through or for an organization at least once between September 2008 and September 2009. The volunteer rate the year before was 26.4 percent. And parents with children under the age of 18 were substantially more likely to volunteer than were persons without children under 18 years of age, 34.4 percent compared with 23.9 percent. Parents, and others who volunteer their time, demonstrate how the actions they take today can impact tomorrow.

Each of us, by serving in our communities, has the opportunity to make a huge contribution to the future of our nation and to make a huge impact on future generations. What better way to help shape our nation's future than by personally investing in our children's education and empowering young people to own their future economic success?

As students head back to the classroom, there are a few subjects that most of them won't be taught: how to manage money, how to create a budget or balance a checkbook, how to manage credit and how to prepare for economic and business success in a globally competitive environment. Without these lessons, we're missing out on a valuable opportunity to teach the business leaders and entrepreneurs of the next generation these crucial skills at a young age.

Junior Achievement programs bring relevancy into the classroom and inspire students by teaching the basics of money management and the tenets of entrepreneurship, by connecting young people to the business world and by introducing them to the principles of life in the global marketplace. These basic skills and experiences need to be taught early, before students head off to college or enter the workforce, where this knowledge is not only expected, it's required to succeed in a globally competitive environment.

You can help ignite the spark in young people to understand and embrace the opportunities and realities of work in a 21st century global marketplace. As the National Day of Service approaches, parents may want to consider volunteering to teach one of JA's innovative and experiential programs that empower young people by helping students grasp essential business, money and job skills early on. Junior Achievement works with schools around the country to bring its programs into the classroom across all student levels, from kindergarten through 12th grade.

See what Junior Achievement programs are available in your area and share your personal experiences and expertise to help enrich a child's education and chance for a brighter future. Now more than ever, young adults need your knowledge and skills to help them succeed. For more information, visit