I had the absolute pleasure of spending the day yesterday with Jennifer Bodensiek, President of Junior Achievement of Central Maryland.
For those of you who don’t know what Junior Achievement (or “JA” as they call it) is, JA is the world’s largest organization dedicated to educating students about workforce readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy through experiential, hands-on programs.
A large percentage of the kids who are touched by the JA program come from low income families. In most instances the education they receive from JA about financial literacy and workforce readiness may be the only instruction they have on these most crucial life skills.
Jennifer took me on a tour of “BizTown”, which I have to say is probably one of the COOLEST things I have ever seen. “BizTown” is a hands on learning environment that allows elementary school students to learn the relationship between what they learn in school and their successful participation in a worldwide economy.
The kids spend about 13 hours in the classroom preparing for their day at “BizTown” by interviewing for jobs, learning about banking, and understanding many of the other real world functions that adults experience from day-to-day.
When the kids arrive at “BizTown” they enter this simulated community and are overwhelmed with excitement.
The businesses in BizTown are sponsored by local businesses. For instance, Best Buy houses a mini store and turns the kids into members of the “Geek Squad” who sell time playing “guitar hero” to the members of the “BizTown” community, Bank of America sponsors a mini bank where the kids come to deposit their pay checks and take out loans to run their businesses, and Papa Johns (where the kids are treated to a pizza lunch and also snacks provided by Frito Lay) is one of the towns hot spots. The kids even need to buy insurance, pay taxes, and run their errands during their lunch hour. Welcome to the real world!
At the OUTRAGEOUS Academy and Workshop, Glazer-Kennedy donated $100,000 to Junior Achievement from the proceeds of Bill Glazer’s book “OUTRAGEOUS Advertising That’s Outrageously Successful”.
To find out more about Junior Achievement and how you can get involved in your area go to http://www.ja.org