With deep anticipation, the JA Free Enterprise Center opened to its first group of students on April 19, 2023! The JA Free Enterprise Center is a vital place of learning, discovery, and inspiration that will enable JA to reach another 25,000 students annually.
Students from Carmody Middle School in Lakewood were the first to experience the new Robert and Judi Newman JA Finance Park. The Park’s opening coincides with April recently being proclaimed as Financial Literacy Month in Colorado. A second state-of-the-art learning lab, the Daniels Fund JA Dream Accelerator will open this fall. Together, they fuse the physical and digital worlds to deliver innovative, real-world, and inspirational learning experiences in financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and career readiness. The JA Free Enterprise Center will also be home to the Colorado Business Hall of Fame, and a 1,100 sq. ft. conference center for teacher training, corporate events or community use.
The JA Finance Park is an immersive simulation providing teens the opportunity to become adults for the day. Recognized by Harvard University as a best practice for teaching financial literacy, students explore a mini-city, learning first-hand how to budget for housing, insurance, transportation, retirement investments, and more. Volunteer role models share their experiences, helping teens connect their learning to the real-world.
One of these volunteer role models attended the JA Finance Park opening and had this to say about the experience:
“I was amazed walking into the new JA Finance Park. From the friendly atmosphere the JA employees have created for everyone of all ages but the realistic simulations they’ve created for students. These simulations allow students to develop skill sets such as budgeting and finance. These skill sets are the cornerstone for these students’ success in their future careers. While volunteering, I had the opportunity to hear kids say, “I have to buy generic food so my baby can go to a better day care” and “cars are so expensive, maybe I should just buy a bike.” It’s comments like these that not only make me want to volunteer more but excite me for these students’ bright futures. As a JA alumna, JA Finance Park is one of the reasons I chose my current career!”
-Emily Orellana, 2018 Mountain Vista High School graduate and Banking Officer at FirstBank