Urban Life


        Simulated life experiences through Junior Achievement can confront a 17-year-old with three children and a 10-year-old with paying off a bank loan.

        “Finance Park is very eye opening for the kids. [We hope] maybe now they will understand why their parents say no to certain purchases,” said Melisse Wen senior program director.

        Finance Park is designed for 7th-12th graders.

        Through this program students are given a new scenario such as being a single mother or father of three children working as a bank teller.

        After receiving their life scenarios, the kids have to make up a budget, evaluate their spending choices, and then check out with one of the volunteers at the end of the day.

        Every adult knows that sometimes life throws spontaneous curveballs and in Finance Park the kids are not exempt.

        For example, someone might be told that they got a flat tire on the way to work and they have to pay $75 to fix it. Sometimes the random encounters are good, like getting a pay raise.

        “I love this program. It directly relates to them [the students], and they can apply it to their own lives,” said Wen.

BizTown, for students in grades four through six, has its own designated area in the new JA building, 11111 W. Liberty Dr. Equipped with a wellness center, newspaper, radio/TV station, bank, retail store and factory, BizTown serves as a real life simulation of different types of economic activity.

        “The kids get 4 ½ hours of experience [as workers] everyday,” said Wen.

        Each student takes out a loan from the bank and has to work through the day to pay it off. A day spent at BizTown is a mixture of lessons in production, selling and consuming.

Usually about 60 to 120 participate and each takes turns in positions of power such as mayor, policeman and property manager. They also learn the ropes for everyday jobs such as bank tellers, and factory workers.

        “Some kids really take it seriously, especially when they get to be the policemen or mayor,” added Wen.

        Donors and volunteers make Junior Achievement possible. One of the main financial contributors has been Kohl’s which has donated more than $3 million.

        Other donors include Koss, and Milwaukee based sports teams like the Brewers, Bucks and the Wave.

        This non-profit organization has been active in Milwaukee for more than 70 years and has helped thousands of children between the ages 6 to 18 learn money management. | UV


JA socks kid with bank loan| Quianna Young

“Finance Park is very eye opening for the kids. [We hope] maybe now they will understand why their parents say no to certain purchases.” ~ Wen

Video by Madelynne Miller