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Portland Teens Receive Personal Finace Skills with Junior Achievement of Oregon & SW Washington and AT&T

(Portland, Ore.) — Junior Achievement of Oregon and SW Washington is bringing important financial literacy lessons to at-risk students in Portland as part of a contribution from AT&T through its AT&T Aspire initiative. Eighth grade students at Jason Lee School will experience the JA Finance Park® program, which helps students build a foundation of personal finance skills through in-class learning and an experiential real-life simulation.

JA Finance Park® begins in the classroom, with teacher-led lessons about topics like income, saving and debit and credit. The program culminates in a “real-life” simulation onsite at the JA JA Finance Park® mobile exhibit which will set up and serving students at Camp Withycombe this month. The reality-based simulation gives students the opportunity to apply classroom learning by creating a family budget based on hypothetical life situations assigned to the students, such as job, salary, and family situation.

"So many of our teens haven’t learned how to properly manage their finances, either because they haven’t had those conversations with their parents or haven’t had access to financial literacy programs in school" says Gina Huntington, Senior Director of Programs of JA of Oregon and SW Washington. "With JA Finance Park®, we aren’t just telling students how to manage budgets; we’re putting them into the situation and asking them to make tough decisions."

At JA Finance Park®, the students assume "real-life" personas and learn how to develop and balance a personal budget that includes such expenditures including housing and food, savings, transportation, entertainment, health care, child care, utilities, clothing and education.

"It is important to give every student an equal opportunity to learn basic financial skills like budgeting, managing credit and understanding a salary," says Betty Byrd, Regional Lead for the West of AT&T. "Watching that moment when it ‘clicks’ for a student is what makes this such an important investment – seeing when they understand the tradeoff for buying those basketball season tickets is that their family may not be able to buy groceries that month. Students walk away with a much better understanding of what sacrifices their parents make for them and what it means to be a financially responsible adult."

Established in 2003, JA Finance Park® is one of Junior Achievement USA's most successful programs, and more than 1 million students across the United States have gone through the experiential learning program since it first began.

The collaboration between Junior Achievement of Oregon and SW Washington and AT&T is a continuation of their joint commitment to provide supplemental learning experiences that help young people in the community develop the competence, confidence and character to make smart academic and economic decisions. AT&T volunteers assist in the delivery of JA Finance Park® by connecting with students to help them discover their passions and potential. This collaboration is part of AT&T Aspire, the company’s signature philanthropic initiative to promote student success in school and beyond.

Click here to see what students and executives are saying about JA Finance Park®

About Junior Achievement of Oregon & SW Washington

Junior Achievement inspires and prepares young people to succeed in a global economy through hands-on programs that promote work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy. Established locally in 1950, JA is an affiliate of Junior Achievement USA, which has worked for nearly a century to provide economic and financial education for K-12 students. This year, more than 4,500 volunteers will teach JA programs in over 1,700 classrooms, serving over 44,600 students in Oregon and SW Washington.

About Philanthropy & Social Innovation at AT&T
AT&T is committed to advancing education, strengthening communities and improving lives. Through its community initiatives, AT&T has a long history of investing in projects that create learning opportunities; promote academic and economic achievement; or address community needs. AT&T Aspire is AT&T’s signature philanthropic initiative that drives innovation in education by bringing diverse resources to bear on the issue including funding, technology, employee volunteerism, and mentoring. Through Aspire, we’ve passed the $250 million mark on our plan to invest $350 million in education from 2008-2017.