This first article in The Junior Economist serves one purpose: establish once and for all the foundation of this organization.
As members change, the leadership rotates and social circumstances pose contemporary problems, it is easy to diverge from the original purpose. It is for this reason we will always hold this discourse, the first one ever given to describe the Junior Economic Club, close regardless where future circumstances lead us. We can call it an ideology, a manifesto perhaps, but we see it as a promise to ourselves to stick true to the values and vision that inspired the Junior Economic Club into existence.
Chicago has seen its fair share of troubles over its history, from the infamous Chicago Fire to the crippling effects of the Great Depression. And yet, we as a city have overcome every challenge, emerging stronger and more united each time. This is due to the ability of the city’s population to think critically and acts decisively. History has shown we can overcome differences and problem-solve. These fantastic qualities, engraved into the very foundation of this city, have been without question passed onto today’s generation. Chicago has an unprecedented spirit of initiative and willpower among its youth. From one of the most active student unions in America to a variety of student-led initiatives, there are opportunities abound for Chicago’s youth to voice their opinions on education, socioeconomic inequality and world affairs. There has been a desire to make a positive impact from a young age.
And yet most students have experienced the frustration that comes with wanting to make an impact, to bring to life a fantastic idea, but being unable to act. Perhaps we lack the resources available to those older than us. Perhaps our age doesn’t lend itself to credibility. Perhaps we simply have not yet had the chance to acquire the expertise necessary to influence the world around us. The Junior Economic Club was created first and foremost to provide a supportive ecosystem for aspiring Chicago youth to achieve exactly what they aim to accomplish.
The organization began organically, grown from students’ desire to make a meaningful, positive and real world impact. I want to take the time to enumerate the three main challenges that were the inspiration for this organization. Firstly, students are, for the most part, protected from the larger debate of economic policy and direction and therefore have no real world perspective on the financial issues facing our generation. Secondly, while the gap between students and professionals is closing in just about every industry, from scientific research to journalism, the gap between bright, thoughtful students and economics, finance and business remains large. Thirdly, much socioeconomic disparity later in life stems from the widely varying opportunities available to students during the early years of their education.
In view of these challenges, the mission of this Club is to spark and facilitate meaningful discussion about economic issues among determined high school students. We are fostering a community where motivated students can be exposed to new ideas, be inspired to discuss complicated economic issues and act to secure a better future for Chicago and our generation. Our philosophy is our differentiating factor: The JEC truly believes that, given the right guidance and support, high school students are fully capable of solving the toughest economic problems facing our society.
Our vision for the Junior Economic Club is simple: We envision this organization remaining for decades as the hub for ambition and aspiration among the most motivated students of Chicago. Membership at the Junior Economic Club will by synonymous with initiative and excellence. By giving the next generation a head start, the Club is nurturing more effective, efficient, and responsible leaders, thereby supporting Chicago's prosperous future for generations to come.
We break the convention that you have to wait until after college to begin making an impression on the world around you. The real world begins now. The hard work begins now. The challenges begin now. And now we, the next generation of Chicago, begin to build a more prosperous and sustainable future.