Elementary school students are not old enough to drive, work or vote. But that doesn’t stop them from operating banks, managing businesses, writing checks, investing in stocks and earning a profit at the McGrath Family JA BizTown!
JA BizTown is a 10,000 sq. foot mini-city in which kids discover how the “real world” works. Each day, about 150 5th graders become JA BizTown “citizens” where they work in one of 21 businesses, make financial decisions, pay taxes and donate to charity.
After four weeks of classroom lessons, students come to JA BizTown for the learning experience of their lives. Each citizen has a job for the day, gets paid twice, manages a checking account, shops, gets health check-ups, may be interviewed on TV and much more. The time spent at JA BizTown may be only one day, but the impact that this experiential learning provides will last a lifetime.
It’s amazing what a young group of people can accomplish! Our team of four 5th graders was responsible for providing supplies for all the BizTown companies, and to make it work, the team was organized into the roles of CEO, CFO, Sales Manager, and Stock Clerk. The clerk organized and distributed all the supplies, the sales manager sold goods and game time on the Wii and PlayStation, while the CFO processed all the checks, both incoming and outgoing, and the CEO organized the team’s strategy and covered for the CFO during breaks.
They took out loans, generated income to pay the loans, earned paychecks and spent them, organized their finances, and learned what it was like to manage a business, all within a day! And most importantly, they learned how to work as a team and rely on each other to accomplish the team’s objectives.
It was a privilege to be there and to help these kids experience something that few schools around the country are able to. I see a very bright future for these kids – a wonderful return on investment for the hours we spent to help make it possible.