Harvey Clark introduced our speaker, Debbee Donahue, Special Events Manager for Junior Achievement of Arizona. Junior Achievement has been around for nearly 100 years and is now in 177 countries, serving 10.6 million kids. The goal of the organization has moved beyond teaching high school students marketing skills by making and selling a product; JA now has national curriculum writers who create age appropriate lessons that meet educational standards for students at all K-12 grade levels. Heavily laced with math, the lessons teach entrepreneurship, financial literacy, and workforce readiness.
In Arizona, 7,300 volunteer professionals teach the JA curriculum to students in the classroom. They serve about 57,000 students (about 8% of the state’s student population), working with 368 schools. 59% of the students served are from low to low-moderate income families. Debbee explained, “ We teach students about the workforce and different types of work. We empower them for their own success.”
JA BizTown
Junior Achievement operates two 7,000 SF facilities in Tempe, filled with shops. Students in grades 4-6 come in and run the shops for the day. 17 classroom lessons prepare them for the 4 ½ hour simulation. During the in-classroom lessons, the students create a business plan, calculate operating costs, explore career options, and design a marketing campaign. In the town simulation, the students put their lessons in practice, working as employees on business teams, pricing goods and services, managing finances, and marketing. Students even practice responsible citizenship by voting and paying taxes.
JA Finance Park
JA Finance Park is geared toward middle and high school students, teaching financial literacy and personal accountability. Preparation includes 17 lessons over 4 months. The simulation assigns each student a profile consisting of a job, salary, and family situation. Students spend the day working on their finances, including insurance, cars, housing and utilities. When the students start creating a budget, they soon realize how far the money doesn’t go.
Stock Market Challenge
Junior Achievement also operates a Stock Market Challenge that teaches high school kids about investing. The students have 5 classroom lessons, then are given $500,000 fictitious money to invest in 30 mock companies. Teams come to the simulation where they compete to trade stocks and see who can earn the best ROI.