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JA BizTown Celebrates Serving its 100,000th Student

PORTLAND, Ore. — Just after 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, October 25, about 80 fifth-graders from Marysville Elementary and St. Cecilia School attended Junior Achievement of Oregon and SW Washington’s BizTown, resulting in the organization meeting a big milestone – serving its 100,000th student.

The occasion was marked by a reception for many of the community business leaders who have supported JA BizTown since it opened in 2007. JA Vice President of Operations, Barbara Smith, who helped with the creation of JA BizTown, welcomed guests by thanking them for their support of the program. “Over eleven years ago we brought our first group of students through JA BizTown and about 2,000 students came through in that first year. Reaching our 100,000th student is quite an amazing feat for us”.

Now, operating at its capacity, JA BizTown in Portland sees 13,000 students come through each year. There are currently an additional 31 facilities throughout the country. Junior Achievement of Oregon and SW Washington serves over 44,000 students a year with all its programs.

JA BizTown—which truly must be seen to be fully appreciated –began as an empty 8,500 square foot space within Junior Achievement’s headquarter building. When students arrive for their day of running their own community, they have their choice of workplaces: a bank, delivery service, newspaper, television station, retail stores, a café—and even a simulated City Hall, where a Mayor elected by her or his peers governs for the day.

Today, as students arrived a host of business leaders, many from the sponsor companies represented within the town, were there to see the excitement on students’ faces as they saw JA BizTown for the first time. Behzad Hosseini, Board Chair at Junior Achievement of Oregon and SW Washington, welcomed the students and recognized each of the program sponsors before bringing up the bank’s CEO to represent the 100,000th student.

“As KeyBank was our first sponsor of JA BizTown, we would like today’s CEO of KeyBank of JA BizTown to represent the 100,000th student,” Hosseini announced. He then presented fifth grader Minh-Thuy, who had interviewed and applied for the CEO role in the classroom, a special nametag and introduced her to Michelle Weisenbach, CEO of KeyBank of Oregon and SW Washington.

Junior Achievement also used the occasion to reveal its next major initiative: a fundraising campaign to build the next JA BizTown. The new JA BizTown exhibit will be mobile and it intended to move throughout the state. With the campaign underway and a successful fundraising track record, the JA Board of Directors anticipates being able to expand JA BizTown within the next two years.

“Reaching our 100,000th student is quite an accomplishment for us,” said Behzad Hosseini. “The impact of JA BizTown has been huge on Portland area students, and I look forward to see how the program impacts and changes the next 100,000 students.”

JA BizTown Current Sponsors:

Elementary school students are not old enough to drive, work, vote, or be the boss. But that doesn't stop them from working for Allstate Insurance, Associated General Contractors, Comcast, Fred Meyer, KeyBank, NW Natural, ON Semiconductor, Oregon Humane Society, PacifiCorp, Pacific Foods, Portland Business Journal and UPS. JA BizTown is also supported by the Kruse Way Rotary Club and KinderCare Education.

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 help deliver JA programs for over 45,700 students in Oregon and SW Washington. Visit www.jaorswwa.org for more information.