On September 29th, JA Finance Park® welcomed a group of eighth graders from Benjamin Tasker Middle School as its first students to take part in the innovative experiential experience and become the first JA Finance Park® Prince George's County graduates. Volunteers from Washington Gas gave their time and energy to guide these young people through the simulation, adding their stories and experiences to bring the program to life.
“JA Finance Park® is about inspiring a generation of Prince George’s County youth to be financially capable. It’s about giving them the power to make the right financial choices and a new perspective on why staying in school and setting college and career goals is important to their ability to achieve their dreams,” said Ed Grenier, President and CEO of Junior Achievement of Greater Washington. “We are thrilled that Maryland’s first JA Finance Park® will be right here in Prince George’s County. As this county and its businesses grow, it’s critical that we create a pipeline of talented and prepared graduates to lead us far into the 21st century. I’m confident that these young people will one day be the leaders who make discoveries, lead companies, and change our world. And, it begins today within these walls.”
Before students travel to JA Finance Park®, they take part in JA’s unique 14-lesson classroom curriculum taught by their teacher. This knowledge serves as a foundation in personal finance education and gives them the skills they need to take on their JA Finance Park® experience successfully. Students' experience culminates at JA Finance Park®, where they have the opportunity to put their newly-learned skills to the test in this digital, 21st century, innovative learning environment. The "mini-city" houses a variety of storefronts and kiosks, correlating to the personal budget lines each student must manage during their JA Finance Park® visit. As these young people enter the doors of JA Finance Park®, they leave behind their lives as middle school students and take on a life scenario: an avatar with a career, salary, credit score, debt, a family, and financial obligations. On tablet computers, led by volunteer role models from the community, students make their way through various phases of the day, budgeting and adjusting for life’s unexpected events.
By 2018, Maryland will be home to two Junior Achievement Finance Parks, once Montgomery County opens on the fourth floor of the new Thomas Edison High School of Technology building. The first JA Finance Park® opened in Fairfax, Virginia, in October, 2010. To date, more than 71,000 students have become JA Finance Park® Graduates through more than 1.6 million instructional hours, 86 school visits from 9 school systems throughout the region. There are 18 JA Finance Park®’s nationwide.
JA Finance Park® Prince George's County is Greater Washington's second financial literacy supercenter. In addition to Capital One’s signature sponsorship, the JA Finance Park® facility and operations are supported by a broad cross-section of the region’s leading businesses and organizations through storefront, kiosk, and educational exhibit partnerships within the facility. Partners include Capital One Investing, Chick-fil-A of Capital Boulevard and Steeplechase, Community Foundation of the National Capital Area, Doctor’s Community Hospital, E*TRADE, Enterprise Rent a Car, Financial Assurance Corporation, Geico, Lerner, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, PenFed Credit Union, Pepco Holdings, Inc., Prince George’s County Community College, UnitedHealthcare, Walmart, Washington Gas, and the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation.