Junior Achievement of Wisconsin: 13-Year-old Jonah Larson wins $10,000 scholarship

MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin (January 29, 2021) – In a Shark Tank-style event hosted by Junior Achievement of Wisconsin, a panel of four celebrity judges awarded Jonah Larson a $10,000 scholarship for his business initiative Jonah’s Hands. The virtual audience was also charmed by his pitch and awarded Larson the Russ Darrow Automotive Group Viewer’s Choice Award, earning him an additional $500 cash prize.

The live competition took place at Majic Productions Studio in Waukesha yesterday. Four finalists were selected based on a competitive application process that was developed in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. The scholarships were made possible by event sponsors and generous community leaders.

Larson has built an impressive crochet empire by sharing his crochet videos and words of inspiration to 111,000-plus YouTube subscribers and 277,000-plus Instagram followers. He’s written two books, has been a regular guest on the Drew Barrymore Show, and sells his crochet pieces and kits online.

In addition to the $10,000 Grand Prize Scholarship, $1,500 scholarships were received by each of the other three finalists; Carter VanHaren, 17, of Brookfield; Madison Russell, 17, of Shullsburg; and Tessa Gehri, 17, of Wonewoc. The judges were impressed by the creative business solutions presented by the finalists and applauded their efforts to help others.

“All four of our young entrepreneurs represented themselves, their businesses, and the entrepreneurial spirit with flying colors,” said Michael Frohna, President of Junior Achievement. “Junior Achievement was proud to give these inspiring business owners a platform to share their stories and to remind the public that the next generation of American entrepreneurs is already innovating the next big thing. We’re expecting great things from all four of them.”

“We can see the incredible value in Junior Achievement all across the state and I think we are all a little more inspired to be entrepreneurs,” said event emcee Mary Stoker Smith, an anchor with FOX6 in Milwaukee.

“Jonah, your story is incredible!” said event celebrity judge Denise Thomas, CEO and owner of The Effective Communication Coach. “237% growth is huge!”

When asked what one word he wants people to think of when they crochet, Larson said, “Therapeutic.”

Junior Achievement of Wisconsin is grateful for its Young Entrepreneur Live Competition sponsors:

Founding Sponsors

  • Ernst & Young
  • Johnsonville
  • ManpowerGroup
  • T&M Partners

Viewer’s Choice Award Sponsor

  • Russ Darrow Automotive Group

Crowdfunding Sponsor – a matching gift of $15,000

  • BMO Harris Bank

Venture Sponsors

  • Paul & Terri Danola
  • Douglas Dynamics
  • FIS
  • Heartland Funds
  • Mason Wells
  • Muth Mirror Systems
  • Patti & Jack McKeithan Northwoods Foundation
  • Rockwell Automation
  • Walbec Group
  • Wintrust

About Junior Achievement® (JA)

Junior Achievement is the world’s largest organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their future, and make smart academic and economic choices. JA programs are delivered by corporate and community volunteers, typically in area schools, and provide relevant, hands-on experiences that give students from kindergarten through high school knowledge and skills in financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship. Junior Achievement of Wisconsin has 12 area offices across Wisconsin and annually serves approximately 150,000 students with more than 8,000 volunteer mentors. For more information about Junior Achievement of Wisconsin: www.wisconsin.ja.org.