JA Finance Park

"I've never seen our kids more engaged in their school work. They absolutely love the iPads and the enhanced technology made this experience incredible for our kids. I think JA Finance Park is a great example of infusing technology into our educational experiences for improved learning."

- Laura S., Middle School Teacher


Junior Achievement’s JA Finance Park is a program dedicated to educating middle and high school students in the basics of financial literacy: budgeting, investing, managing risk - all while reinforcing the value of education and how it affects one’s future. The program blends teacher-led classroom instruction with a culminating simulation day that delivers a high-tech, high-touch educational experience at our mobile exhibit.

Experiential Learning

Most of us learn best when we are able to experience things firsthand. JA Finance Park takes reality-based learning to a new level by placing middle and high students into authentic, tangible, real-world scenarios where they take control of their decisions. JA Finance Park brings together teachers, community and corporate volunteers, and local businesses to prepare students for adult life.

JA Finance Park includes three parts:

▲ Classroom lessons and activities
▲ ​Budgeting simulation at JA Finance Park
▲ ​Debrief and follow-up in the classroom

What Students Learn

Before students travel to JA Finance Park, they take part in JA’s unique 12-lesson classroom curriculum, split into four main categories, taught by their teacher. This knowledge serves as a foundation in personal finance and gives them the skills they need to take on the JA Finance Park experience with everything they need to be successful.

Income

Students recognize the fundamental role of income in managing their personal finances and the factors that the decisions they make about education and career will have an impact on their potential income and quality of life.

Savings, Investing and Risk Management

Students explore why saving money is critical, and they compare investments as a part of their overall financial planning. They examine risk and how insurance may help protect savings. They also examine risk and how insurance may help mitigate certain expenses.

Credit and Debit

Students compare financial institutions and their services. They weigh the advantages and disadvantages of debit and credit. Students will explore the role of credit scores and credit reporting on personal finances.

Budget

Students discover the importance of spending money wisely and recognize a budget as a valuable tool.

The Simulation and Debriefing

Students experience the JA Finance Park Simulation, where they apply classroom learning by creating a family budget based on a hypothetical life situation. During classroom follow-up, students explore their insights and revisit their career goals to see how those might have changed following their JA Finance Park experience.

At JA Finance Park - The Simulation

Upon entering JA Finance Park, each student is given a unique "life situation" - a personal profile with the details of their adult life, including job title, annual salary, age, marital status, and more.

After students receive their life situation, they determine their net monthly income (NMI) and apply an appropriate range of spending for their family in pre-determined business categories. Students will then visit each of the businesses to buy a car, shop for groceries, purchase a home or rent property, buy insurance, establish savings accounts, make investments and donate to charity.

Students must also budget for unforeseen expenses, such as mechanical problems with their car. It is during this shopping time that students realize choosing to buy a brand new car rather than a used car may mean living in a small apartment instead of a home, or spending more money on clothing may mean limiting your social activities for the month.

At the end of the day, students must have balanced spending in all 20 expense lines, such that their expenses do not exceed their income.

The Tour

This program involves a mobile exhibit. JA Finance Park is now making annual tour stops in Portland, Albany, Medford, Klamath Falls and Redmond, serving middle and high school students from 21 districts!



For more information about JA Finance Park, please contact Gina Huntington at ghuntington@ja-pdx.org or 503-238-6430.