Why JSA

Our Purpose

The Junior State of America prepares a diverse community of America’s high school students to participate in our democracy. We empower students to engage in politics, citizenship, and civic life outside the boundaries of the classroom. JSA programming, designed to respond to and ignite their ambition and imagination, can be the most impactful extracurricular experience of a student’s academic career.

Our Values

These are the principles that guide Junior State of America:

respect

Respect

All students are actively supported and given an opportunity to engage with today’s issues through discussion and debate in a respectful space.

empowerment

Empowerment

An immersive education in civics and leadership empowers JSA students to actively engage with our government and meet the challenges of our democracy.

autonomy

Autonomy

JSAers have a level of autonomy that is unique among our peer organizations; they are challenged to think independently, work collaboratively, and find their way together.

transformation

Transformation

When students notice that their capacities have begun to meet their ambition, they experience a transformation.

activism

Activism

Leadership spurs activism — when students inspire each other to uphold the interests of a common good, they can have a positive impact on their communities.

You can support students and the future democracy.

Support JSA

Our History

JSA has been engaging tomorrow’s young leaders with civic issues and activism for over 85 years.

What started as a conversation became a nationwide community.

In 1934, Ernest Rogers organized a Conference of Youth on American Ideals” at the Montezuma Mountain School for Boys in Los Gatos, CA. As the country began to emerge from the Great Depression, Rogers hoped to find a way to motivate students for the tasks of public service. He knew that a key to this enthusiasm lay in bringing students together to engage with issues of the day through discussion and debate in a respectful space. This principle has guided JSA throughout our history and remains as relevant to our national network today as it was to that original cohort of ten.

During its history, the Junior State of America has seen both incremental changes and dramatic growth. We were an innovator in offering college prep summer experiences at some of our nation’s most prestigious universities, which introduced many civics-minded students to our school-year program. Those students who weren’t JSA members wanted to bring JSA to their own areas and were empowered to start their own school year chapters. This student demand has brought our student-led, school-year experiences across the country, turning JSA into a national community, with chapters in 35 U.S. states, and eight territories.

The future of JSA is more exciting than ever, with new opportunities for students to connect with each other outside the bounds of chapter, region, or state. Today, there is a spirit of experimentation and collaboration that is unparalleled in our organization’s history, as we leverage new technology and a renewed student appetite for change in response to the times. Once again, the students of Junior State of America are finding opportunities to connect in innovative, inclusive, equitable ways and will be the ones defining what it means to be a citizen of the United States of America, and JSA.

Meg G
Student Story

Meet Meg G.

Meg found her second home at her high school’s JSA chapter. She became so fond of the warm dynamic that was created in the club, even though they were all completely online.

Read Meg's Story