Financial literacy and career readiness are two of the key pathways behind JA’s mission. For nearly a decade, JA Finance Park presented by Transamerica has, in a very practical and hands-on way, built a foundation upon these pathways for Denver metro middle and high school students.
JA Financial Park is an immersive budgeting simulation that takes place in a 7,000-square foot mini-city located in American Furniture Warehouse in Thornton. Students are tasked with creating a balanced personal budget against their assigned fictional salary as they wander from storefront to storefront learning about home loans, insurance, auto loans, childcare costs, investing, and much more from JA volunteers. The experience sets the stage for informed financial decision-making that will last a lifetime. A virtual computer-based version is also available.
This year, JA launched a new advanced level of JA Finance Park. The new addition enables students to choose their preferred career and education in the budgeting simulation and navigate financial decisions through multiple stages of adult life so they can focus on long-term budgeting. Geared for high school students, the new simulation helps teens grow their knowledge from simple concepts to an understanding of how financial, education, and career choices can impact their long-term dreams. Due to social distancing measures, the program has so far been offered as a computer-based virtual simulation, but will be offered as an in-person program as well in the future.
“The best parts of the new simulation were when the boxes popped up with the ‘life situations’ and they either made money or lost money; the student reactions were priceless,” says David Garrett, learning specialist at Highlands Ranch High School. “The students also took the simulation more seriously than I expected and overall put in a good effort to create their best budget.”
“The new advanced version of Finance Park is a perfect way for older students to build on the Finance Park experience as it allows students to see the long-term impact of their education, savings, and credit decisions,” says Brian Florey, who is the Business Development Manager for Transamerica, the presenting sponsor for JA Finance Park. “It’s these types of educational programs and experiences around financial decision making, among others, that The Aegon Transamerica Foundation is proud to support for the future health well-being of the communities in which we live and operate.”
Florey also volunteers for JA, delivering Finance Park lessons directly to teens. He additionally serves on JA’s Board of Directors.
“I am really proud to be associated with an organization that shows kids how they can be economically self-sufficient and personally responsible for their success all while nurturing their entrepreneurial drive,” he says. “My experience with JA has given me a genuine feeling of optimism for our future generations, our economy, and workforce.”
JA is thankful for the funding for JA Finance Park provided by the following sponsors:
American Furniture Warehouse
Denver Toyota Dealers Association
Travelers Insurance Company
Young Americans Bank
Colorado Federal Savings Bank
Elevations Credit Union
Bellco Credit Union
SM Energy Company
Collegiate Peaks Bank
Cushman & Wakefield
Dorsey & Whitney Foundation
ENT Credit Union
Pepsi Beverages Company
Premier Members Credit Union