It’s a common sentiment: Many elementary and high school classes don’t teach you enough “real world” lessons. One national organization is trying to change that by teaching classes that have an everyday, practical application outside the classroom.

Junior Achievement (JA) works with students from kindergarten to 12th grade in three core areas: financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship. Through interactive lessons, students put 21st century skills—creativity, innovation, collaboration, critical thinking—to the test. Last year, more than 5,000 local professionals volunteered at roughly 500 area schools to make that happen.

Armin Mitchell, a former JA student in Denver, paid it forward last spring as one of those volunteers when he started teaching lessons as a part of Impact Denver. “It’s important to have the ‘be entrepreneurial’ spirit and know how to integrate business into our communities,” he says. For six or seven weeks, individuals teach one program—one hour, one lesson per week—to a classroom, such as creating a personal budget or starting a business, while infusing their personal stories and experiences to help engage students. After a short two months, students will leave with financial knowledge that can’t be taught from the textbook glossary. “A lot of these kids are at a crossroads and trying to decide if they should stay in school or not,” says Kim McGriegg, the program’s communications director. “Having someone tell them why they should stay in school can be all the difference.”

Get Involved: Apply to be a JA volunteer in the classroom or get your whole business involved by adopting an elementary school for a day.

—Image courtesy of Junior Achievement