LA2050 Grants Challenge applications are open now through June 28th, 2024.
2023 Grants Challenge

Junior Achievement Finance Park

JA Finance Park creates a more equitable and just society by equipping all students with the skills, knowledge and opportunity needed to build a better future for themselves and their communities, regardless of their background. At JA Finance Park, students go through a day-long simulation challenging them to make financial decisions in a real-life scenario. Young people take control of their futures through learning essential financial competency skills and understanding how their educational and career choices impact their future.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Youth Economic Advancement (sponsored by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation)

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

County of Los Angeles

City of Los Angeles


In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

Today's standard school curriculum is not designed to prepare students with the knowledge and skill needed for real-life challenges of personal budgeting, the financial implications of career and educational choices, and feeling confident and ready to succeed in the workforce. The 2023 Bankrate Annual Emergency Savings Report, shows that nearly half (49%) of U.S. adults have less savings (39%) or no savings (10%) compared to a year ago. The survey also reveals that 36% of individuals have more credit card debt than emergency savings, the highest on record since 2011; and 68% of people are worried they wouldn't be able to cover their living expenses for just one month if they lost their primary source of income, including 85% of Gen Zers - the most concerned of any generation. Students growing up surrounded by financial struggle and lack of resources in schools and public systems are constantly exposed to messages around them that independence and financial security are out of reach.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

JA Finance Park is a multiple-lesson, teacher-led financial literacy program that introduces personal financial planning and career exploration through teacher-led lessons, culminating in a day-long simulation at the JA Finance Park site. The curriculum covers: Income; Saving; Investing and Risk Management; Debit & Credit; and Budget. After completing these modules, students visit JA Finance Park, where they put their skills to the test in an innovative, immersive learning environment. Students focus on critical thinking about the connections between education, career, income, savings and long-term financial goals and financial health. This knowledge serves as a foundation in finance education and provides skills students need. Without programs like JA Finance Park, students from low-income communities have few models for realistic steps they can take to improve their own future financial prospects, and little access to inspirational examples of real individuals that motivate them to believe they can take control of their financial futures. JA empowers students with the life-changing skills to manage finances, establish savings and live within a budget, and help students identify solid career pathways that will support them. Funding will help JASoCal initiate its goal of achieving full capacity (from 4,000 to 15,000 students/year by 2028) by expanding outreach to school districts who have not been able to fully fund participation but value financial literacy education.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

JASoCal envisions a Los Angeles that is well-poised to holistically support its young people and ensure they have every opportunity to succeed, not just in Los Angeles but in the global economy, of which Los Angeles is a key player. Uplifting our young people with the courage, skills, passion, and knowledge to own their futures and dare to dream, JASoCal's programs will change the trajectories of thousands of Los Angeles' young people who just need extra support to know how to (and that they can) succeed. As students learn how to take control of their own financial futures through JA Finance Park, they are inspired to reach for their dream careers, make smart life decisions along the way, and budget and save for their futures, resulting in individuals who are not just financially secure and stable, but who want to be competitive players in the economy.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

A pre-survey is administered to students prior to program delivery to establish baseline knowledge and attitudes. After participating, students who completed a pre-survey complete a post-survey to generate comparative data across several fields of growth. Follow-up satisfaction surveys are delivered both to students and teachers to help JASoCal understand how students' experience further develops in the classroom. JASoCal volunteers from businesses complete surveys regarding their experience and student engagement. We utilize data to inform decisions, make program and service improvements, and to demonstrate impact. Of the participants surveyed this year, the number of students reporting satisfactory-excellent knowledge in core outcomes showed significant improvement at the conclusion of the program. Budget knowledge increased to 93% of students (from 57%); credit scores and contributing factors to 85% (from 39%); and 91% of students (from 64%) understood their savings options.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 6,000

Indirect Impact: 570