JA Finance Park®


Program Overview
JA Finance Park helps students build a foundation upon which they can make intelligent financial decisions that last a lifetime, including decisions related to income, expenses, savings, and credit.

The JA Finance Park program is composed of 13 required teacher-taught, in-class lessons. It culminates in a hands-on budgeting simulation that is implemented either at a JA Finance Park facility, mobile unit, or virtual site. Additional extension activities are available for each lesson topic. Lessons are offered in a traditional classroom presentation format designed for middle-grade students, and in a Project-Based Learning (PBL) format created for high school students. Both provide educators a method of delivery that will best meet the needs of their students.

Pillars of Student Success Entrepreneurship:  Financial-Literacy:  Work-Readiness: 
Program Implementation Program Grade-Level
JA Capstone Middle School and High School
Program Concepts Program Skills
Banking, Benefits, Budgets, Buying, Careers, Choices, Consumers, Credit, Debt, Exchange, Expenses, Income, Interest rates, Investments, Government, Money, Needs, Opportunity costs, Risk, Salary, Saving, Savings, Scarcity, Social Security, Taxes, Wages, Wants Active listening, Analysis, Applying information, Brainstorming, Budgeting, Cause and effect, Charting, Comparing, Computation, Critical thinking, Data collection, Decision making, Filling out forms, Following directions, Graphing, Interpersonal communication, Interpreting data, Listening, Math computation, Negotiation, Observation, Planning, Problem solving, Reading, Research, Role-playing, Self-reflection, Spending, Taking responsibility, Teamwork, Writing, Verbal communication

Program Sessions

Income

Students recognize the fundamental role of income in managing their personal finances and the factors that affect income and take-home pay. Students begin to understand that the decisions they make about education and career will have an impact on their potential income and quality of life.

Option One: Traditional Lesson Format
Three (Required) 45-Minute Lessons
  • Lesson One: Plan Your Future
    Students will make the distinction between abilities, aptitudes, interests, work preferences, and values. They will explore various sources of income, including salaries and wages, interest, and business profit.
  • Lesson Two: Careers
    Students identify their career interests and goals as a way to earn future income. They set a career goal they will revisit at the end of the program.
  • Lesson Three: Taxes and My Income
    Students learn the three main sources of government's tax on income and determine net monthly income by deducting federal income tax, Social Security, and Medicare deductions.
Option Two: Project-Based Learning Lesson Format
Four (Required) 45-Minute Lessons
  • Lesson One: My Life: Got Skills?
    Students will rate their interests, abilities, and values. They will determine work preferences and match them to career options.
  • Lesson Two: My Life: College or Not?
    Students explore how their decisions about education and career have an impact on their income potential and quality of life.
  • Lesson Three: My Life: Where's All My Money? Part One
    Students are introduced to the concept of taxes, why they are paid, and their impact on income. They will determine net monthly income.
  • Lesson Four: My Life: Where's All My Money? Part Two
    Working in teams, students debate the use of tax dollars and how they are distributed.

Saving, Investing, and Risk Management

Students explore saving and compare investments as a part of their overall financial planning. They also examine risk and how insurance may help protect savings.

Option One: Traditional Lesson Format
Two (Required) 45-Minute Lessons
  • Lesson One: Saving and Investing
    Students are introduced to various short- and long-term saving and investment options such as savings accounts, stocks, and mutual funds.
  • Lesson Two: Managing Risk
    Students recognize that insurance policies are a common way to minimize risk for accidents and unforeseen circumstances.
Option Two: Project-Based Learning Format
Two (Required) 45-Minute Lessons
  • Lesson One: My Life–Pay Myself First?
    Students examine how they can benefit from paying themselves first. They compare the impact that money, time, interest rates, and inflation have on the growth of their investment.
  • Lesson Two: My Life–Insurance Too?
    Students recognize that insurance policies safeguard against risk by providing compensation in the event of sickness, injury, accidents, or other insured circumstances.

Debit and Credit

Students compare financial institutions and their services. Through discussion and a game activity they also weigh the advantages and disadvantages of debit and credit. Lastly, students examine the role of credit scores and credit reporting have on personal finances.

Option One: Traditional Lesson Format
Four (Required) 45-Minute Lessons
  • Lesson One: Banking Partners
    Students identify the types of financial institutions and the services they provide.
  • Lesson Two: Personal Spending
    Students become aware of the advantages and disadvantages of debit and credit cards.
  • Lesson Three: Savvy Shopping
    Students participate in the Savvy Shopper game and see first-hand the costs and benefits of debit and credit.
  • Lesson Four: Managing Credit
    Students explore credit reports and credit scores, discover why they are important, and learn how to build good credit.
Option Two: Project-Based Learning Format
Three (Required) 45-Minute Lessons
  • Lesson One: My Life–Financial Institutions
    Students identify the various types of financial institutions and the services they provide.
  • Lesson Two: My Life–The Cost of Credit
    Students explain the use of debit and credit cards and their advantages and disadvantages.
  • Lesson Three: My Life–My Credit Score
    Students understand what a credit score is, why it is important, and how to build good credit.

Budget +

Students discover the importance of spending money wisely and recognize a budget as a valuable tool. They create personal budgets based on saving and lifestyle goals and day-to-day situations.

Option One: Traditional Lesson Format
Three (Required) 45-Minute Lessons
  • Lesson One: Think Before You Spend
    Students define what good money management is and why it is important. They discuss how setting financial goals and being an informed consumer will help them better manage their money.
  • Lesson Two: What is a Budget?
    Students identify the components of a successful budget.
  • Lesson Three: Who Uses a Budget?
    Students practice budgeting and learn how this tool can help them responsibly manage their daily finances.
Option Two: Project-Based Learning Format
Three (Required) 45-Minute Lessons Plus Project Preparation
  • Lesson One: My Life - "Riches to Rags" . . . Not Me!
    Students explore common reasons why people run into financial difficulty, including unemployment, medical bills, overextended credit, and poor decision making.
  • Lesson Two: My Life: Income - Expenses = Reality
    Students identify the components of a successful budget and distinguish between different kinds of budgets.
  • Lesson Three: My Life – In Control of My Money
    Students will make choices and discover how to maintain a budget. They will prepare a budget based on goals and income.
  • Culminating Project Preparation: Two class sessions or homework
    Using the knowledge and skills gained from the JA Finance Park curriculum, students create a portfolio and presentation describing their education path, career path, savings goals, risk management strategy, or budget plan.

The Simulation and Debriefing

Simulation (applies to both Traditional and Project Based Learning Lesson Formats)

Students experience the JA Finance Park simulation, where they apply classroom learning by creating a family budget based on a hypothetical life situation. Students recognize the impact of credit history on budget planning and purchasing options.

Option One: Traditional Lesson Format
  • Debriefing
    During the debriefing, students revisit their career goals to see how the JA Finance Park experience may have changed their goals or plans for the future.
Option Two: Project-Based Learning Format
  • My Life Presentation
    Students present their insights and knowledge related to one of the four JA Finance Park curriculum sections.

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