Preparing Students For Life In The Real World
Junior Achievement’s experiential learning programs help millions of students gain a better understanding of work readiness, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship. The JA Finance Park program introduces students to topics like employment and income, budgeting, spending and saving, credit and debt, financial decision making, and investing and risk management.
After one month of teacher-led learning, students have the opportunity to actually visit the JA Finance Park, either on-site or virtually. This realistic simulated community allows students to put everything they’ve learned into practice over the course of the in-class lessons. First developed in the early-00s, the JA Finance Park virtual simulation was in need of an overhaul in both design and technology.
A Whole New Way To Learn About Finance
Junior Achievement enrolled MentorMate to design and develop an entirely new version of the JA Finance Park simulation. The result is a powerful back-end system with a clean, modern design and user experience at the front-end. In addition to improving and updating the look, feel, and technologies behind JA Finance Park, we also incorporated new key features into the product.
One major feature update is the ability to budget and make personal financial decisions across multiple life stages. Previously, the simulation only accounted for a single month’s budget. In the new version of the simulation, students can plan a budget around four different life stages. This leads students to better understand the impact of short- and long-term financial decisions, and also prepare them for real-world scenarios.
Streamlined Data Management
In addition to updating the look, feel, and features of JA Finance Park, we paid close attention to the CMS that feeds the back-end of the simulation. After cleaning up and streamlining the process for making changes to the data in the templates, we added a dashboard for volunteers, teachers, and staff to view student progress. This was something that was missing from previous versions of the program but vastly improves tracking and reporting capabilities.
Beta Testing and Full Implementation
In November and December 2019, JA Finance Park wrapped up alpha testing with a select group of students and staff. After receiving positive results, it’s on to beta testing beginning in March 2020. From there, Junior Achievement will roll out the new and improved JA Finance Park to the JA network at its annual conference in July. Schools can start implementing the program into their Junior Achievement curriculum beginning in August 2020.