Financial Literacy on the Front Range – JA Finance Park

By February 7, 2020 Community No Comments

Are you familiar with Junior Achievement (JA)? It is the world’s largest organization dedicated to preparing young people to succeed in a global economy. JA utilizes a volunteer network to deliver programs for students on entrepreneurship, financial literacy and work readiness. We are fortunate to have Junior Achievement-Rocky Mountain, Inc. serving our area youth. Elevations’ financial literacy initiatives align closely with JA’s goals to teach concepts through experiential learning, allowing young people to put their new knowledge and skills into practice, and increase financial literacy.

Elevations employees volunteer with JA across a number of their programs including the JA Stock Market Challenge, JA in a Day, JA classroom-based programs and JA Finance Park. 

JA Finance Park presented by Transamerica

JA Finance Park is a hands-on simulation of future financial responsibilities for students. The park features structures and kiosks that represent all of an adult’s real-life expenses, from opening checking accounts and paying utilities to buying a car. It helps students build a foundation for making intelligent and lifelong personal financial decisions. The park is open most school days, beginning in early September and going through the school year. Before students come on the field trip to the park, they receive up to 12 lessons from the JA Finance Park curriculum in the classroom with their teacher. The entire experience, including student workbooks, teacher materials and the field trip itself, is free to schools and students.   

Pam Cummings of Dakota Ridge High School has been bringing her students to JA Finance Park for over a decade. “There are lifelong benefits. They learn how to budget, invest and save, plus how to rent an apartment and get a car. The curriculum incorporates all of it, so they use every bit of this for the rest of their lives,” said Cummings.

During their visit to JA Finance Park, students become an adult for the day and immerse themselves in a reality-based decision-making process addressing aspects of individual family budgeting, including housing, transportation, food, utilities, healthcare, investments, philanthropy and banking. Full daily capacity at JA Finance Park is 160 students, which requires at least 12 volunteers. Parents and teachers from participating schools also attend with the kids as volunteers and chaperones.

While chaperoning, many parents reflect on the value of JA Finance Park and wish they had been exposed to this type of financial literacy training as kids. Amanda Kneebone, a chaperone for Erie High School, said, “I think this was very eye-opening for a lot of the kids. We don’t talk to our parents as much about finances, such as talking about health insurance, credit cards, understanding debt to income and learning to take care of needs before wants.”

Elevations’ commitment to financial education

Elevations has been a sponsor of JA Finance Park since January 2017. In the 2018-2019 school year, 21 of our employees volunteered with more than 2,600 students in the classroom and at events. “Elevations is ranked in the top 10 volunteer partners we have in the entire region. That is especially impressive given its size relative to the major corporations we partner with! It is by far the most active credit union partner we have in terms of volunteer participation,” said Charlene Moser, Development Manager for Junior Achievement-Rocky Mountain, Inc.

Our very own Scott Hermann was recognized by Junior Achievement-Rocky Mountain, Inc. in August 2019 for his status as a volunteer who has had an impact on 500 JA students.

Scott Herrmann (left) with Stephanie Taylor (right), Program Coordinator with Junior Achievement-Rocky Mountain Inc.

Get involved

You can volunteer for Junior Achievement programs in your community as an individual in your child’s school or even get a team together to volunteer as a group. There are many different ways to volunteer and opportunities that fit all geographies, interests and schedules. Reach out to Junior Achievement-Rocky Mountain, Inc. to find out if your neighborhood school is a JA partner school already. If it isn’t a current partner, JA can work with you to get programming for your children.

You can find out more about all of JA’s programs and how they are making an impact in our communities here.

Author Dennis Paul

Look to Dennis for stories from our communities and Elevations Foundation. Dennis has been involved with the credit union movement for 27 years and understands the importance of community and our role in helping our members thrive. Dennis currently oversees all of Elevations Credit Union’s business and community development initiatives as well as Elevations Foundation.

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