TAMPA BAY, Fla., September 7, 2018 — Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay will unveil the new JA Finance Park, presented by SunTrust and in collaboration with Hillsborough County Public Schools, on September 13, 2018. Community and education partners, business leaders, sponsors and donors will gather, along with the first group of eighth-grade students to walk through its doors, to celebrate the inaugural year of the 18,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art educational facility. JA Finance Park will serve more than 13,000 local middle school students annually and will house an innovative economic simulation program that will provide students with key concepts in personal finance and budgeting, building a foundation for solid financial decisions throughout their lives.
“After two and half years of development, we are so pleased to welcome students through the doors of the new Junior Achievement Finance Park,” said Richard George, President of JA Tampa Bay. “It is our mission to ensure every child in our region has a fundamental understanding of our economic system and their role in it. JA Finance Park will do just this, but we also hope it will inspire their future careers and empower them to own their economic success.”
The construction and start-up costs exceeded $5 million; coupled with annual operational expenses, the campaign reached over $10 million.
Designed by Fleischman Garcia Architects, JA Finance Park boasts 18 storefronts and a first-of-its-kind Career Discovery Center. This experiential center offers state-of-the art technology and will provide student participants with an immersive, hands-on experience in searching for future careers.
Additional notable features of the facility include a beautiful Hall of Fame Gallery presented by Sheryl & Joe Teague, dedicated to the Junior Achievement Hall of Fame recipients. Among the honorees, recognized for advancing the mission of Junior Achievement are: Pam and Les Muma, Alex Sink, Bill Poe, Sr. and Gus Stavros, to name a few. Student participants will be introduced to these most passionate leaders.
JA Finance Park’s 18 storefronts represent the local business community, including financial services, health care, credit, utilities and manufacturing. Students participating in JA Finance Park will have the rare opportunity to experience their financial futures and careers firsthand. Upon entering the center, students receive a “life situation” with job, income, education and family scenarios. Based upon their adult personas, students visit businesses in the simulation to gather information to use in making financial decisions, such as managing a household budget, using banking services, and making purchasing and investment decisions. At the end of the day, students will have gained an understanding of the educational and financial decisions that will help shape their future.
Additionally, the JA Finance Park program is rooted in the Hillsborough County Public Schools curriculum, as the district is the driving education partner for the project. The new facility is adjacent to the existing Junior Achievement BizTown, presented by Pam and Les Muma; together, the two facilities make up the Bill Poe Family Junior Achievement Campus. Junior Achievement USA, the local affiliate’s national office, is committed to ongoing, rigorous evaluation and quality assurance of all JA programs. As a result, the School Board of Hillsborough County approved a Memorandum of Understanding which included mandating the program/curriculum and the site visit of JA Finance Park for all eighth graders. Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay also partnered with area school districts and private schools to maximize the capacity of the program.
“Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay has been a trusted partner with JA BizTown through the years, so when we learned about JA Finance Park, we knew that the program would deliver on its goals and set up students to succeed,” said Jeff Eakins, Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent and Board Member. “JA Finance Park aligns closely with the career exploration and life plans that are required in the eighth grade Florida State Standards, but it also provides students with real-world situations that will make textbook lessons more real and relevant.”
The overall program includes hands-on, in-school activities that culminate in a visit to the new JA Finance Park facility. Students will have access to an immersive career exploration experience, giving them the chance to explore their future plans and prepare to seize tomorrow’s opportunities, by exposing them to in-demand careers on the Tampa Bay horizon.
The region served by JA of Tampa Bay encompasses 12 Florida counties, including Hillsborough and Pinellas.
About Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay
Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay is over 50 years old and is part of the world’s oldest and largest organization dedicated to teaching young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their future, and make smart academic and economic choices. JA programs are delivered by corporate and community volunteers, and provide relevant, hands-on experiences that give students from kindergarten through high school knowledge and skills in financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship. Last year, Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay reached 81,307 students in the Tampa Bay area. Visit jatampabay.org for more information.
About Junior Achievement USA® (JA)
Junior Achievement is the world’s largest organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their future, and make smart academic and economic choices. JA programs are delivered by corporate and community volunteers, and provide relevant, hands-on experiences that give students from kindergarten through high school knowledge and skills in financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship. Today, JA reaches more than 4.8 million students per year in 109 markets across the United States, with an additional 5.2 million students served by operations in 100 other countries worldwide. Junior Achievement USA is a member of JA Worldwide. Visit www.ja.org for more information.