Founded in 1946, DECA is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit student organization with more than 200,000 high school members, 5,500 advisors, and 15,000 postsecondary collegiate division members around the world. The student members of DECA are smart, dedicated individuals already actively involved in preparing for successful careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management. Oregon DECA is a member association of National DECA with over 1,400 members.

DECA members are experienced in workplace skills and are proven leaders within their peer groups and their neighborhood communities. The majority—generally juniors and seniors in high school—hold jobs, and a surprising percentage of members own their own businesses. Eighty-six percent of DECA members will pursue postsecondary education.

DECA is not extracurricular. Rather, DECA is co-curricular and designed to be an integral part of the classroom instructional program. DECA provides teachers and members with educational and leadership development activities to merge with the classroom instructional program, teaching the skills that a successful career in business requires. Working hand-in-hand with the educational and business communities, DECA’s goal is for its members to develop a “career success kit” to carry into their professional and personal lives after graduation, including:

  • Occupational skills needed for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and entrepreneurship
  • Leadership skills
  • An understanding and appreciation of civic responsibility
  • Ethical behavior in personal and business relationships
  • An understanding of the role of our free enterprise system in the global economy

To accomplish this, DECA uses on-the-job experience, chapter projects, and a competency based competitive events program in more than 35 specific occupational areas. These events emphasize academic and vocational excellence as building blocks for successful careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management, and demonstrate the direct relationship between DECA’s comprehensive education program and the real needs of business and industry. Each year, more than 112,000 members participate in competitions on the local, state/provincial and international levels with over 300 competing in Oregon at the District Career Development Conferences and over 800 competitors at the State Career Development Conference. 

DECA emphasizes academic and career excellence and helps to demonstrate the all-important direct relationship between its comprehensive learning program and the real needs of business and industry. The organization is nonprofit, nonpolitical and totally student oriented. All chapters are self-supporting, with members paying local, state/provincial and national dues. Each chapter elects its own student officers, and the local instructor serves as the chapter advisor. All chapters within a state/province comprise a state/provincial association under the leadership of the state/provincial advisor. Each state/province elects student officers for its division. The international organization is composed of the total of all state or provincial associations. Student delegates selected by each state, in turn, elect their national student officers. DECA Inc., the legal sponsoring unit of DECA, elects a board of directors, which is the policymaking group of the organization. DECA is the only international student organization operating in the nation’s high schools that attracts leaders and entrepreneurs to the fields of marketing, finance, hospitality and management.

The DECA chapter is to the marketing, finance, hospitality or management education program what a civic or professional organization is to a group of businesspeople. Chapter activities are recognized as a part of the total educational program because they develop leadership skills, professional attitudes, business competency, citizenship characteristics and social growth of the individual. These same activities serve the instructor as a teaching tool by creating student interest in all phases of the different target industries. DECA activities provide members with opportunities to serve in leadership roles, work in teams and receive local, state and international recognition.