“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is asked of young people every day, and yet one more question is as important to ask: “What do all of these jobs and careers have in common?” No one seems to know the answer to this one: money! Everyone will have to handle or deal with money in some capacity in life. And yet our school systems’ view of financial education is so pathetic in Oregon you didn’t even need any credits in personal finance to graduate for over 10 years! And now, you merely need a 1-semester class that can be considered “optional” in some schools. That’s where Junior Achievement comes in. Beginning in 2013, Southern Oregon Credit Service had the privilege as the Title Sponsor for “JA Finance Park!”
JA Finance Park is a traveling financial literacy project that will travel around Oregon each year, stopping in communities like Medford, Klamath Falls, Eugene, Bend, and more. In February 2016, JA Finance Park visited Grants Pass for the first time, hosting at the Merlin Armory. After receiving 12 hours of education and prep leading up to the event, students are handed an I-Pad with a financial profile for themselves and their family, including income, children, and marital status. They are then asked to negotiate their way through a day in the life at the park! These professional kiosks include banks, real estate, utilities, childcare, insurances, and other stores and expenses we all experience in life. The four-hour event is a real eye-opener for many students. The most oft-heard comment is “Kids are expensive!” The traveling Park was created and financed through donations and grants from many businesses in Oregon, with individual events having local sponsorships. Junior Achievement is a great organization bringing necessary and valuable knowledge and experiences to our students through volunteers and private sector donations and action. The core missions are financial literacy, work-readiness, and entrepreneurship. For more information about JA in southern Oregon: http://jaorswwa.org/
Middle School students are seen here working on their personal finances with the help of their IPads.