WJLA/ABC-7 News: Financial literacy project for students opens in Landover

Middle school students in Prince George's County take on a new identity when they visit the Junior Achievement Finance Park.

Collin Bast, a student at Benjamin Tasker Middle School told ABC7, "I'm a 29-year-old with a child and I make $64,500 a year." The role playing is designed to help students learn financial literacy which has become a priority in the county. According to Junior Achievement, one government study found the average high school student scored a failing grade of 56-percent on a test of financial understanding.

Kerri Palmer is a Senior Vice President at Capital One which helped finance the 13,500 square foot facility with a $3 million donation. She explained, "In school kids learn reading, writing and arithmetic. In order to be truly successful in life they need to manage money well."

Which is exactly what 8th grade students are learning to do at the Landover facility. Every year, about 9,000 students will visit the park after spending 14 hours working in the classroom and in workbooks.

Ed Grenier, President and CEO of Junior Achievement of Greater Washington says the facility extends classroom learning. "What we do here is make it fun, interactive, engaging," he emphasized.

Benjamin Tasker 8th Grader Sadie Gardner has learned the importance of setting a budget and sticking to it. "If I have a house I need to pay the mortgage, if I have a car I need to pay auto insurance, then I have to save a little bit," she shared.

What Bast has learned in class and at the finance park has changed his perspective on money. "I can connect with this, I understand how important this is and that I need to know this in order to survive," he said.