After in-class curriculum, students attend a day-long trip to JA Finance Park working in a simulated economy. Students learn the importance of making good career choices; incorporating information acquired in the classroom. In the business park, students take on adult roles, receiving profiles with age, income, education and family size. Students utilize "businesses" to purchase items and create monthly balanced budgets, determining the impact of work readiness and career choices on budgets.
Unemployment for Arizona youth is very high, with jobs typically filled by teenagers going to adults. Also, work readiness and career training are no longer part of Arizona school curriculum due to the emphasis placed on standardized testing. Arizona has one of the highest high school dropout rates in the nation, with some Phoenix high schools showing a very low graduation rate of 65%. Beneficiaries of this project are 13-18 year olds who attend junior and senior high school in Phoenix, Arizona.
In JA Finance Park, students receive the critical information necessary to propel them toward work readiness and career success, giving them a sense of empowerment and control over their future lives as working adults. As students explore the free enterprise system and enhance their personal work readiness, they gain the skills necessary to excel in school, in the workplace, and as future leaders of our community. They see that skills learned in school are relevant to performing a job.
It's been proven that students who receive Junior Achievement programs six times during their school career are 90% more likely to graduate from high school. The goal of our project will be for youth to develop attitudes aligned with high school graduation and 21st century skills that prepare them for success. In addition, JA programs improve student academic performance and achievement leading to increased graduation rates.