Junior Achievement of Central Maryland Inc. (JA), is excited to announce that a long-awaited vision is now coming to fruition. In summer of 2020, we will open a new headquarters and program facilitiy that will take experiential learning to the next level for the youth of Baltimore.
Located at 1725 Twin Springs Road, the facility will more than double JA's current space, enabling the organization to unveil the 28,800 square-foot JA Youth Workforce and Innovation Center, an interactive learning space for early workforce development.
“This is a game-changer for our organization, our community, and for thousands of students in our region who deserve real-world experiences that prepare them for the future,” said Jennifer Bodensiek, President & CEO of Junior Achievement of Central Maryland. “The JA Youth Workforce and Innovation Center will allow us to enhance our visibility and impact more youth with experiential programming that fuels the workforce pipeline and ensures that area youth grow into career-ready, financially responsible, and entrepreneurially minded citizens. We are grateful to our partners for their sponsorship and volunteer support, and we look forward to engaging additional organizations as we bring this vision to life.”
The new center enables JA to expand popular programs, such JA BizTown, where 4th-6th graders take on the role of an employee and run a simulated economy. For middle and high schoolers, JA Finance Park presents students with a career, family, and salary scenario, then allows them take on the role of consumer to make wise budgeting decisions. Middle and high school students will also have the opportunity to explore Maryland’s in-demand careers in a new career center, as well as start and run their own businesses in an entrepreneurship cafe. In addition, the center will offer a multi-use space to foster community, business and education partnerships. In total, the facility will serve 30,000 students—plus more than 5,000 volunteers and community members—annually.
Adrienne Jones, Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates, recognizes the importance of making JA programming more inclusive.
“Junior Achievement’s new regional center in Lansdowne represents a major step in our work to ensure that every student in Maryland is college and career ready,” Del. Jones explained. “JA’s programming offers a holistic approach to education and equips students with practical life skills that they will use well into adulthood, and I’m thrilled that they will have a new home in Baltimore County.”
Merritt Construction Services, the construction division of Merritt Companies, began construction on the base building in November and expects to begin the interior build-out in mid-March. JA plans to move from its current Owings Mills location, which is owned and operated by Merritt Properties, to the organization’s new headquarters in summer 2020, relocating roughly 20 employees. Merritt is a long-time supporter of JA, and the future headquarters is part of Merritt Properties’ Beltway Business Park. Clockwork Architecture + Design has been tapped to do the architectural work.
A “groundbreaking” to celebrate the interior buildout of the JA space is planned for the spring.
Thanks to our sponsors who have already signed on for this transformational project. Lead capital project partners include: Allegis Group, France-Merrick Foundation, Howard Bank, Marion I. & Henry J. Knott Foundation, M&T Bank, Stanley Black & Decker, State of Maryland, Truist Foundation, Transamerica, and the T. Rowe Price Foundation. Program partners in the new center include: Aerotek, Allstate Foundation, Baltimore County Public Library, Bank of America, Chick-fil-A Foundation, First Financial Federal Credit Union, GEICO, Institute of Museum and Library Services, Maryland Association of Certified Public Accountants, Maryland MEP, Maryland State Library, Merritt Properties, Northrop Grumman, Toyota Financial Services, Travelers, Wells Fargo, and Whiting-Turner. JA is still seeking additional program and capital support for the project.
“On any given day there could be up to 300 kids in the center participating in real-world career readiness, financial education, and entrepreneurship programs,” said Tom Sadowski, Vice Chancellor of Economic Development for the University System of Maryland and Chair of Junior Achievement of Central Maryland’s board of directors. “I’ve observed JA programs first-hand, and I’ve seen the lightbulb go off – the inspiration in the students’ eyes when all of a sudden, it clicks. They understand the potential for their future. Together with our JA partners, we are giving our education system and key industries the missing piece they need to build a solid foundation that helps Maryland’s economy grow and succeed into the future—and we are doing it at scale so every student has the opportunity to benefit from these experiences.”
JA’s new facility is centrally located off Washington Boulevard and provides access off I-95 and I-695. It is also in close proximity to the city and county line and several miles from UMBC and BWI, making it an ideal regional location to serve the youth in the Baltimore region and throughout Central Maryland.
This past school year, JA served more than 13,000 students in Baltimore City and over 8,000 in Baltimore County. Both school systems plan to expand student impact with the opening of the new center.
“Our system-wide partnership with Junior Achievement over the past three years has allowed us to infuse classroom learning with hands-on experiences that connect students to the realities of work, personal finance, and entrepreneurship,” said Dr. Sonja Brookins Santelises, CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools. “Last year alone, JA programs reached more than 92 percent of our 5th graders, 82 percent of our schools, and more than 13,000 total Baltimore City Schools students. The new center will expand this impact, allowing all of our 5th and 7th graders to connect with caring community members through meaningful experiential learning opportunities.”
Dr. Darryl Williams, Superintendent for Baltimore County Public Schools, recently championed JA Inspire, an interactive career exploration experience that connected all 8,000+ Baltimore County 8th graders to more than 60 area employers.
“We are proud to offer families in Baltimore County Public Schools even more opportunity through our growing relationship with Junior Achievement,” said Dr. Williams. “I have seen firsthand how JA BizTown and JA Finance Park spark new learning for our youngsters and support the development of both knowledge and skills for career and college success.”
The enthusiasm around this initiative, said Bodensiek, is that Junior Achievement’s results speak for themselves. Statistics gathered nationally by the non-profit show that JA students are 30 percent more likely to graduate from college than students in the general population and 67 percent are more likely to earn an advanced degree. JA students not only secure employment at a higher rate than their peers, but they earn 20 percent more in salary.
“We’ve seen success with scalable JA initiatives in Montgomery and Prince George’s County, and it is essential to bring these opportunities to the youth of Baltimore,” adds Kelly Schulz, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Commerce. “Through this center, our region’s youth will gain the financial education and workforce readiness skills they need to thrive. It is an investment not only in our students, but an investment in the future success and competitiveness of our state.”