Northwest Credit Union Foundation Grant Lifts JA Finance Park

A high-tech, hands-on mobile venue for teaching personal money management rolls out in Oregon and Southwest Washington this month thanks in part to a grant from the Northwest Credit Union Foundation (NWCUF).

JA Finance Park of Oregon and Southwest Washington features one of Junior Achievement’s first mobile learning facilities, bringing an immersive financial education experience directly to middle and high school students without the challenges of transporting them to an outside facility.

Junior Achievement’s reverse field trip makes its first stop in Eugene, Ore., today and tomorrow. Additional stops are scheduled in Medford, Ore., April 16 and 17, in Bend, Ore., April 25 and in Klamath Falls, Ore., May 6-9. The mobile unit can be set up in school gyms, convention centers or in retail spaces.

JA Finance Park was created to provide an interactive venue in which students adopt professional personas and navigate a maze of financial expenditures. The personas range in age from post-high school to 36 years old, and some have families to support.

The venue includes impressive kiosks, at which students will log onto a lap top, learn about the “business” they are visiting and enter their expenses into iPads. The students are to complete the exercise with balanced budgets.

The Northwest Credit Union Foundation (NWCUF) funded a multi-year grant and is sponsoring a kiosk in the venue. The Credit Union at JA Finance Park is one of the few businesses encouraging students to save. Information about credit scores and college savings is available at the credit union. Students are also required to open savings accounts and may select from options including short-term programs, such as a Christmas Club or electronics wish-list, as well as longer-term options.

Foundation Board Chairman Steve Wilder lauded the collaboration between the credit union community and Junior Achievement.

“Because of all the Northwest credit unions’ support,” Wilder said, “the Foundation was able to provide funding for this.”

Other venues at JA Finance Park include a grocery store, clothing shop, hardware and patio store as well as utilities, transportation and insurance kiosks.

Hours of classroom preparation are required for students before their class can qualify for a day at JA Finance Park. When the mobile unit was demonstrated at a gala grand opening in Portland last week, OSU Federal Credit Union Director of Community Education Anissa Arthenayake was on hand. Arthenayake, one of the region’s most recognized community educators, is a long-time contributor and advisor to Junior Achievement. She said she is already with working with teachers in her area to get students ready for the experience.

Requests for class visits and opportunities to bring credit union volunteers to the venue are available online.


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Posted in Financial Education.