Students across the Valley and state heading back to school this month and nonprofit Junior Achievement of Arizona recently completed a renovation at its JA BizTown, a student-sized town built to engage 4th, 5th and 6th graders in personal and business finances through simulation-based learning.
The town features more than 40 local and national businesses where students can experience economic concepts, learn workplace skills, manage personal and business finances, and more. Meta (formerly Facebook), Maricopa Community Colleges, Bell Bank, Alliance Bank, Rosendin Electric, Chompies, Freddy’s and American Subcontractors Association are new faces in JA BizTown this school year.
Students first take part in a series of classroom lessons where they learn about working in and being consumers in today’s world. They create business plans, calculate operating costs, design a marketing campaign, apply for jobs, vote for city officials, and explore careers. Then, they put their skills to work by becoming employees for a day in one of our two JA BizTowns, on-site learning facilities that feature more than 40 different businesses and industries.
“We’re very excited about our new business partners,” said Anne Landers, vice president, strategy impact. “The students love getting a chance to work in a real town, both with brands they recognize and ones that increase their future career awareness, and apply the skills they are learning in the classroom.
During their time at JA BizTown, students operate a simulated economy and take on the challenge of running businesses.
They get hands-on experience as both employees and consumers, paying rent, taxes and utilities, buying advertising from the radio station, conducting TV interviews, purchasing insurance, depositing paychecks and buying other business’ products, handling customer service, and more.
“The students get to see what it’s like to be an adult, making tough decisions about where to spend money and understanding the responsibilities of being an employee or business owner,” said Landers. “Our partners in JA BizTown do such a great job bringing the experience to life and helping kids imagine what’s possible for their futures.”
JA’s research shows:
- 4 in 5 alumni report that JA played an important role in choosing their career path
- 53% of JA alumni have started or owned a business
- JA students graduate at a higher rate than the AZ graduation rate
Junior Achievement plans to have 250 schools from across the state visit BizTown during the 2022-2023 school year.
Junior Achievement of Arizona (JA) is a 501©(3) nonprofit organization that equips Arizona students to succeed in work and life by giving them the knowledge and skills they need to manage their money, plan for their future, and make smart academic, career and economic choices. Since 1957, JA has taught kids, kindergarten through high school, about financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship. The organization’s hands-on, age-appropriate programs are delivered by more than 8,000 corporate and community volunteers. Despite educational obstacles during the pandemic, JA reached nearly 110,000 students in the 2021-2022 school year.