Today, Junior Achievement of Greater Washington, Prince George’s County Public Schools, and Capital One Financial Corporation (Capital One) celebrated the opening of JA Finance Park® on the campus of G. James Gholson Middle School and Cora L. Rice Elementary School in Landover, Maryland. The 13,500-square-foot experiential financial literacy supercenter is the second in the region, the first in the State of Maryland and will serve 9,000 PGCPS students each year. Attendees included Congresswoman Donna Edwards (MD-04); Maryland Secretary of Budget and Management David R. Brinkley; Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot; Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III; Prince George’s County Councilwoman Andrea C. Harrison (District 5) and Council Chair Mel Franklin (District 9); members of the Prince George’s County School Board, including Vice Chair Carolyn Boston; former Maryland State Senator and President and CEO of the Prince George’s County Chamber of Commerce David C. Harrington; as well as other state, community, and business leaders.
Powered by a dynamic public-private partnership, JA Finance Park® is an innovative ecosystem where students experience the challenges of making real-life financial decisions that will lay the foundation for how they approach their financial responsibilities in the future and navigate success in the modern economy.
“One key to students’ success in a 21st century, global economy, is being equipped with a solid foundation in financial literacy,” said U.S. Rep. Edwards, a former Junior Achievement® student. “Today’s opening of JA Finance Park in Prince George’s County, will allow thousands of students to learn, through hands-on experiences, about making sound financial decisions. I thank Junior Achievement of Greater Washington, Capital One, and Prince George’s County Public Schools for making this facility a reality. This effort should serve as an example for our state, region, and the nation as to what public-private partnerships can achieve.”
“I want to thank Junior Achievement of Greater Washington, Capital One Bank, and PGCPS for this innovative partnership to create Prince George’s County’s first JA Finance Park,” said Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III. “As the workforce becomes more competitive, it is imperative that we prepare our students so that they are ready to compete with their peers around the State, nation, and the globe. Projects like JA Finance Park give our students the experiences and lessons they need and exposes them to tremendous opportunities that are difficult to learn exclusively from a textbook.”
JA Finance Park® not only arms students with the knowledge and skills to be financially capable, but aims to make a connection between budgeting and the educational and career choices they will make after graduation. National evaluations of the JA Finance Park® program show that students who participated in the program acquired financial literacy knowledge and were more positively disposed toward financial literacy. Students also demonstrated a positive change in attitude regarding education attainment. Students, teachers, and JA® staff all affirmed the value of JA Finance Park®, saying that it was often seen as a “wake up” call for students to the financial realities of adulthood, and students relished in the opportunity to learn more about what their lives will be like in the real world.
The Department of Treasury reported that the average high school student scored a 56% failing grade on the Financial Literacy Challenge to assess financial knowledge. Furthermore, according to a report from The Washington Post last year, one in four students in Prince George’s County fails to graduate, leaving the county 10 percentage points behind the Maryland statewide average.
“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.”
“It’s long past time that business, education, and nonprofit organizations came together to say, ‘We will make the preparedness of our youth in this County a shared priority,’” said David C. Harrington, President and CEO of the Prince George’s County Chamber of Commerce. “JA is our collective response to not just an economic crisis, but an opportunity crisis. Today marks the first day that together, we say to these young people, ‘We believe you can be more. We believe you can be successful. We believe your potential is limitless.’ I believe the future of business in Prince George’s County is bright—and it will be led by the young people practicing for success within the walls of Finance Park. Today is a message that we believe in these kids and we believe in our ability to change their future.”
JA Finance Park®, designed by architecture firm Gensler, officially started welcoming students on September 29 and will bring in-depth, hands-on, dynamic financial literacy education to 9,000 students per year in Prince George’s County and other individuals from across the region to help them build their money management skills.
"When students take part in a site visit to JA Finance Park, they will use high-tech, hands-on experiences to test the financial literacy skills they have learned in the classroom," said Dr. Kevin Maxwell, PGCPS Chief Executive Officer. "My hope is that through the JA Finance Park experience, students will gain a real-world perspective of finance and acquire the basic – yet critical – skills that they need to successfully manage their finances in the future."
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.
With a $3 million investment in the new JA Finance Park®, Capital One expands its commitment to financial education in the Greater Washington area and Prince George’s County.
“At Capital One, we believe that, like reading, writing and arithmetic, financial literacy is a fundamental component of education, and a key building block for future success,” said Kerri Palmer Greater Washington Market President, Capital One. “As Greater Washington’s hometown bank, Capital One is proud to partner with Junior Achievement of Greater Washington and Prince George’s County Public Schools to bring the core tenets of financial knowledge to more local middle school students."
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.
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. To learn more about JA Finance Park® in Prince George's County, partnership and volunteer opportunities, please visit www.myJA.org.
About Junior Achievement of Greater Washington
Since 1965, Junior Achievement of Greater Washington has inspired the next generation to be financially capable and tenacious, equipped with the tools to solve problems creatively, manage risk effectively, and welcome opportunity. Through our innovative financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship K-12 programs, we inspire the next generation to navigate their path to the American Dream. This year, Junior Achievement will deliver its programs to more than 63,000 K-12 students throughout the region. In the last 50 years, JA® has impacted the lives of almost 800,000 young people in Maryland, the District, and Virginia.
About Prince George’s County Public Schools
Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) is one of the nation’s 25 largest school districts, with 209 schools and centers, more than 129,000 students, and nearly 19,000 employees. With an annual budget of $1.79 billion, the district serves a diverse student population from urban, suburban, and rural communities. PGCPS offers a wide variety of innovative academic programs, including language immersion, high school career academies, and dual enrollment. Its location just outside of Washington, D.C. enables the district to partner with higher education and local and national agencies and businesses to provide unique learning opportunities for students.
About Capital One
Capital One Financial Corporation, headquartered in McLean, Virginia, is a Fortune 500 company with approximately 1,000 branch locations primarily in New York, New Jersey, Texas, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Its subsidiaries, Capital One, N.A., Capital One Bank (USA), N. A., and ING Bank, fsb, offer a broad spectrum of financial products and services to consumers, small businesses and commercial clients. We apply the same principles of innovation, collaboration and empowerment in our commitment to our communities across the country that we do in our business. We recognize that helping to build strong and healthy communities - good places to work, good places to do business and good places to raise families - benefits us all and we are proud to support this and other community initiatives.