JA BizTown gives students hands-on, real world experience
“Once they have to pay their own bills, they will understand the value of a dollar!”
Have you ever uttered a similar sentence about your children? It can be hard for kids to grasp how much things cost until they have to make their own way in the world. By that point, they may have already made bad financial decisions. Decisions that can have them digging their way out of debt for years.
That’s where financial literacy education comes into play. Junior Achievement of Southeast Texas (JASET) teaches fourth through sixth grade students the value of a dollar in their classrooms.
JASET also provides the students with a unique, hands on program called JA BizTown. This learning experience helps students make a connection between what they learn in school and how to apply it in the real world.
In JA BizTown, students “work” in businesses, restaurants, city government, utilities, and banks. And they earn paychecks and pay bills!
But what makes JA BizTown so successful? Volunteers. Business executives, community leaders, and parents engaging in the classrooms is what makes JA BizTown a big hit.
“JASET knows volunteers are essential to reaching more than 300,000 Houston-area students each year,” DeJeania Jones, who manages JA BizTown, shared. “On local school campuses, volunteers teach financial literacy, work-readiness, and entrepreneurship. They help students understand and practice critical thinking skills. They also act as mentors and role models to students.”
JA BizTown is something students look forward to each year. It’s a one-time opportunity to enjoy a field trip to operate a business for a day, serve as bank teller, mayor, or take part in one of dozens of other roles.
On that day, local volunteers share experiences from their own lives as they help students. They show them how to operate businesses, sell goods/services, deposit checks, pay bills, and complete other tasks to be active citizens of JA BizTown.
“When good neighbors make time to volunteer in classrooms, students gain a better understanding of how education is relevant to the jobs, income levels, and lifestyles,” shared DeJeania.
“JA BizTown positively impacts students in many ways,” DeJeania said. “We love seeing the energy students have when they apply their classroom lessons taught by local volunteers.”
“It makes me feel very happy that so many people make time to improve my education by teaching in our classroom and they helped me to develop life skills by guiding me during my field trip to JA BizTown,” from an evaluation by Rain, a fifth grader who spent a day in JA BizTown. “I hope we made you proud.”
“Each year, one of our goals is to increase volunteers who take part in classrooms and at JA BizTown,” DeJeania said. “Through volunteerism, State Farm – who also provides annual philanthropic support - and other supporters show their dedication to helping students do well both academically and in their future as workers, entrepreneurs, and community leaders.”