Junior Achievement of Southern California Tuesday announced a $1.5 million gift to kick off “Campaign4Kids,” a five-year, $7 million initiative aimed at expanding the growth and impact of its programs in the region.

The gift from the Anderson Family Foundation is the largest in JA SoCal history, according to the organization, whose programs for grades K-12 are designed to help students gain critical life skills, such as learning how to manage money, start a business and make the connection between what they learn in school and future career possibilities.

JA SoCal President and CEO Les McCabe said funds from the campaign will also be used to continue the development and funding of the Mike Curb Free Enterprise Center JA Finance Park, a financial literacy laboratory on the edge of Griffith Park that allows students in seventh through 2th grade to experience personal finance in a real-life setting of stores, shops and financial institutions.

JA SoCal’s programs reach more than 70,000 Southern California youth annually, with the help of more than 4,000 local area volunteers, according to spokeswoman Crystal Boutiette.

Incoming board Chair John Tipton said JA SoCal has been providing programs to youth in the region since 1954.

“Research shows that Junior Achievement students are more likely to start a business, successfully manage their finances and achieve their educational goals,” he said. “This transformational gift from the Anderson Family Foundation will help ensure that these important programs continue to have a life-changing impact on the young people of Southern California.”

Bill Anderson, executive chairman of Topa Equities said his family “has been passionate about supporting educational opportunities, entrepreneurship and children’s causes in Southern California for many years. We are proud to support the important work of Junior Achievement of Southern California and their dedicated Board of Directors, volunteers, educators and students.”

Junior Achievement USA reaches more than 4.8 million students annually in 107 markets across the United States, with an additional 5.2 million students served by operations in 100 other countries.

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