Reinventing JA Programs for a Virtual World

Above: JA’s Virtual Finance Park simulation, presented by Transamerica.

We know this has not been an easy year for parents, teachers, or students. That’s why Junior Achievement is stepping up in this challenging time as the new school year begins to provide meaningful educational experiences that excite and inspire students, and relieve some of the burden off of teachers and parents who are in need of reliable, relevant, and quality educational content that can be delivered in a socially distanced or virtual classroom.

While we can’t deliver JA lessons in-person this fall, we have reworked every single JA program, and we have even added some new programming to leverage this new virtual environment, with pre-recorded videos of volunteers, live virtual volunteers via video conferencing, interactive game-based simulations that teach teens about investing and budgeting, and so much more. All JA programs remain free of cost to schools and families.

Here is a sampling of some of the exciting ways we have reinvented JA programs for this school year:

JA Finance Park, presented by Transamerica

A newly updated game-based virtual simulation has been created in which middle school students become adults for the day, learning how to budget for expenses like mortgage loans, insurance, childcare, transportation, utilities, and more. Plus, a brand new advanced-level version of JA Finance Park has been released for high school students, allowing them to explore careers and salary levels, and simulate their savings and expenditures over a lifetime up to retirement. Watch the video below to learn more.

JA Titan, presented by Janus Henderson

Another brand new game-based program, students play the role of CEO of a mobile phone company, where they make financial decisions about production, marketing, research and development, and corporate social responsibility. Watch this demo of JA Titan to learn more.

Denver Startup Week Youth Pitch Challenge

In just a couple of weeks we’ll be partnering again with Young Americans Center for Financial Education and Denver Startup Week for the Youth Pitch Challenge. In a live virtual setting, entrepreneurial teens will pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges. The winner will gain a guaranteed spot in the semifinals of Denver Startup Week’s Pitch Competition. Last year, JA students Melanie Zhou and Mia Hayden won the grand prize in this competition, taking home $100,000 worth of cash and in-kind prizes. 

JA Job Shadows

While students won’t be able to visit a company on-site, companies can come to them virtually. JA corporate partners like Advanced Micro Devices, IMA, and Little America Hotel & Resort are recording videos with personnel across all of their departments to give high school students a virtual career exploration tour.

Updated Classroom Programs

Students won’t be able to share game pieces, nor will they be able to work closely together in groups, so we have updated our programs to reflect this reality. Programs now come with an interactive slide deck, with videos embedded of volunteers introducing each lesson, sharing their personal experiences, and coaching students along the way. Middle and high schools will have the option to engage with a live, virtual volunteer.

Semester and Year-Long Courses

As busy as teachers are, some just would like a reliable, quality source of career readiness, financial literacy, or entrepreneurial content with accompanying activities they can use with their students. JA has just launched a new digital platform for this purpose, guiding teachers with a multitude of valuable turnkey content for their students over the course of a semester or an entire year.

Downloadable Content for Families

JA is no longer limited to the classrooms and schools that request programs. Now children of all ages and their parents can access short lessons and activities immediately on-demand. Find these resources here.

Many educators have expressed appreciation and excitement for our innovative approach to the adaptations we are providing them during these challenging times.  All of our school district partners are back educating their students either in-person, remotely, or in a hybrid model, and JA-Rocky Mountain is doing what we can to support them.

While we look forward to the day when we can again deliver JA programs in-person, many of these new adaptations will enable us long term to reach a greater number of students in more rural parts of Colorado and Wyoming, where volunteer recruitment has typically been more challenging.  With volunteers and supporters on our side, that’s a new normal we are looking forward to.