As an adult, there are times we wish we could go back to our carefree childhood days, before the obligations of holding a job, paying bills, and trying to save for retirement came along. For many, financial matters are a struggle no matter what age. Very few educational institutions hold regular personal finance courses, and parents can struggle with their own limited knowledge and how to teach their children financial responsibility.
Recognizing that gap and the need for financial education, the organization Junior Achievement (JA) makes it their mission to empower young people for economic success through fostering work-readiness and entrepreneurship so they can reach their full potential. Junior Achievement opens installations in cities across the country called Finance Park, which consists of an immersive one-day workshop that puts middle and high school students in real-life financial simulations. Students are assigned a persona with a salary along with financial needs and commitments that must be met such as buying a car, getting a loan, and caring for a child.
A day at Financial Park
At the Denver-area Finance Park, the students attending for the day are wide-eyed and eager to absorb information offered by volunteers who come from local corporations and schools to teach from their own personal experiences.
The response from students ranges from surprised to inspired as they move through different stations learning the processes of different financial transactions. They add and subtract from their salary on tablets to see how they can afford life’s basic essentials with the salary they make.
“It’s showing us how expensive adult life is,” says one student.
“One thing that surprised me is that taking care of a child is a bunch of money!” says another.
The Financial Park also gets them thinking about what kind of career they want to pursue to be able to afford the lifestyle they envision for themselves as well as the cost of a college education to get them there.
When asked at the end of the day-long workshop if anyone felt stressed, most of the students raised their hands, realizing for the first time the real responsibilities of adulthood. Many commented how much more they appreciated their parent’s efforts in providing for the family.
Check out this video to see more from the Denver Financial Park.
Junior Achievement makes an impact
This year, Junior Achievement celebrates 100 years of preparing children for the future and helping them to achieve their career aspirations. Through the efforts of donors and volunteers, they are creating a track record1 they can be proud of. According to the JA’s Rocky Mountain “Impact Report” for the school year of 2017-18:
- JA alumni start businesses at a rate 2 ½ times higher than the general population.
- JA alumni earn 20% more than the general population and are more likely to be better off than their parents.
- 75% of JA alumni have a positive view of the American economic system.
- JA alumni are 30% more likely to have a four-year degree than the general population.
- JA alumni are 67% more likely to have a graduate degree than the general population.
It’s not surprising that many of the adults who volunteered and parents who attended Finance Park with their children could often be heard commenting, “I wish I had this when I was a kid.” Junior Achievement makes financial literacy possible in a time when people really need it.
Transamerica is a proud sponsor of Junior Achievement. If you'd like to volunteer, visit their website to see what's available in your state.
Things to Consider:
- Those with a financial education may achieve more than those who don’t.
- Financial literacy empowers students to take control of their future.
- JA Finance Park allows students to experience real life in cities across the country.
1 “Impact Report,” Junior Achievement Rocky Mountain, 2017/18.