Sarah Ford | March 21, 2014

Finance Park Provides Students Experience of Making Real Life Financial Management Decisions

With over 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the United States, who should you support and why?  The purpose of this blog is to help you discover and connect with some of America’s most trusted 501c3 nonprofits, so you can become more informed and invest your support in charities that are making a significant impact and changing lives every day.

Featured Charity: Junior Achievement of New York

Junior Achievement of New York (JA New York) is the local affiliate of Junior Achievement USA® (JA), 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.  Our volunteer-delivered, K-12th grade programs foster college and career-readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy skills, and use experiential learning to inspire students to dream big and reach their potential. With the help of more than 5,000 business and community volunteers, more than 67,000 NYC and Long Island students develop the skills they need to experience the realities and opportunities of work and entrepreneurship in the 21st-century global marketplace.

Capital One/Junior Achievement Finance Park™

For example, Capital One/Junior Achievement Finance Park™ is an innovative mobile financial education program that teaches the core principles of money management to middle and high school students. Following four weeks of in-class lessons, students enter a mock city where they become “adults for a day,” developing and managing a budget and making real-life financial decisions.

Together, Capital One and Junior Achievement have served more than 200,000 students nationally through Finance Park. More than 11,000 COF associates have volunteered to teach kids financial literacy through Finance Park.  Locally, Capital One/Junior Achievement Finance Park rolled out on Long Island in 2008 where it has run for seven consecutive years. In the fall of 2009, it expanded to the borough of Brooklyn, and in fall 2010, the program expanded to Manhattan. To date, more than 20,000 NYC and Long Island middle and high school students have participated in the program. This spring, we are anticipating more than 3,500 more students to take a walk through Finance Park.

  • In 2010, Capital One and Junior Achievement opened the doors to a state-of-the-art permanent Finance Park center on the campus of Frost Middle School, in Fairfax County, Virginia. Capital One invested into the creation of this new, experiential financial literacy center, which serves 14,000 students a year from across the Greater Washington DC region.
  • In 2012, Capital One and JA announced they will open a second financial literacy center in Prince George’s County, Maryland.
  • Capital One also teamed up with JA to launch an online version of the program called JA Finance Park Virtual, which is expected to reach tens of thousands of students across the country. JA Finance Park Virtual is available at

What Problem is JA New York Solving?

How JA New York’s Finance Park Is Fixing This Problem

Money management skills are an important building block for economic success. Studies show that high school students’ average failing grades in basic financial concepts, and that financial illiteracy is tied to being unbanked and accruing debt. With college debt at an all-time high and a tight job market for entry-level workers, it is more important now than ever that young people understand the significance of how financial decisions influences their futures.

Simply telling students to make good financial decisions does not necessarily affect behavior: while implementing financial education curriculum state requirements is a powerful step, students need to make a connection between what they learn in school and its relevance to their lives. When schools are challenged with shrinking school budgets and making sure their students meet state standards of learning, effective financial learning experiences require outside support.

Students demonstrate an average increase of 14% on financial management concepts after completing the Capital One/Junior Achievement Finance Park program, and 90 percent of the students surveyed said they felt more confident in their ability to manage personal finances. At Finance Park, students experience the challenge of making real life financial management decisions concerning housing, transportation, savings, food and more choices they will ultimately face as they enter adulthood. Students quickly grasp the importance of balancing and prioritizing their needs over their wants.  In addition, they soon realize that their projected future lifestyles may not match up with the reality of their earning capacity, and that their capacity to learn connects to their future earning ability. For many of the students, it is an eye-opening and sobering experience. You can literally see those “aha” moments happen when kids quickly grasp the potential consequences of poor or uninformed spending and saving habits.

“Experiential financial education helps students to understand the short and long-term impact of educational, financial and lifestyle decisions,” says Joseph Peri, president of Junior Achievement of New York.  “It also prepares students to succeed as adults by teaching them some basic, practical money management skills, which they will need to prosper in life.”

JA New York Finance Park

How Can Individual Donors or Organizations Make an Impact?

JA New YorkSchools in our community look to Junior Achievement to provide supplemental learning experiences that help young people develop the competence, confidence and character to make smart academic and economic decisions.  In addition, by focusing on education, economic and youth development, JA programs contribute to the vitality of our community and the availability of a well-educated workforce.

Your support of Junior Achievement provides a visible and meaningful demonstration of your organization’s commitment to youth in our community. You are helping students develop the competence, confidence and character needed to compete in today’s global economy. 

Your financial and volunteer support for Junior Achievement will allow us to provide a JA experience for more students. It costs $1000 to provide a JA program experience, and trained volunteer support, to a class of NYC or Long Island students.  We need your help to meet the demand for our programs. Our turnkey volunteer experience can support leadership development and employee morale. We welcome corporate and community volunteers as well as pro-bono support. 

Our thanks to JA New York for helping us learn more about their work!  To learn more about the impact JA New York is making, visit and connect with them on Facebook; LinkedIn, Capital One Investing for Good Facebook; and on Twitter: @JANewYork and @TeachingMoney.


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