JA Elkhart Biztown
Junior Achievement’s purpose is to reach every child in Elkhart County with the inspiration of entrepreneurship, fundamentals of finance and the principles of earning, saving and sharing.
Today in our region: a need for skills.
There are 85,992 K-12 students in our region and surrounding regions, and every one of them has the potential to make their dreams come true.
Unfortunately, many are not finishing high school or any kind of post-secondary certification or degree program. Every year the region loses almost 7,000 people with college degrees while retaining nearly 1,000 people who completed high school. The post-secondary completion rate in our region (25%) far lags the state (33%) and national (38%) average.
The effects of this lifecycle can be seen in other numbers: An average of 55% of students in our region qualify for free or reduced school meals and the number of people living in poverty is nearly 17% and trending up.
Junior Achievement can help.
Junior Achievement USA® (JA) is the nation’s largest organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their futures and make smart academic and economic choices.
JA’s programs—in the core content areas of work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy—ignite the spark in young people to experience and realize the opportunities and realities of work and life in the 21st century.
As a matter of fact, 8 out of 10 students say that JA helped them see the importance of staying in school. And 76% of teachers and volunteers report that JA better prepares students for the world of work.
In the Elkhart and St. Joseph region, the future of local economic development relies on our ability to cultivate and nurture the values of innovation. We need to feed students’ interests and inspire and prepare them to stay and build lives here. And JA can help.
JA BizTown combines in- class learning with a day- long visit to a simulated town. This popular program allows elementary school students to operate banks, manage restaurants, write checks and vote for mayor. The program helps students connect the dots between what they learn in school and the real world.
By the numbers: JA in the Elkhart and St. Joseph region.
Annually, the suite of JA programs and Lemonade Day serve more than 19,000 students in grades pre-K to 12 in Elkhart and St. Joseph counties region as part of JA Northern Indiana (JANI).
This includes more than 1,200 students in grades 4-6 who participate in JA BizTown® programming and travel to the BizTown “facility” in Fort Wayne for their capstone project. JA BizTown operates as a partnership between local business leaders and educators to provide no-cost, supplementary education around necessary life skills—and is credited with providing students with the opportunity to visualize their future, discover their passion and begin to understand how they can become leaders in their own communities.
"Elkhart is a community of entrepreneurship, and what we really want to do is make sure that we continue to give these kids the tools and the resources that they need, and this project will help do just that."
—AMISH SHAH, KEM KREST
The challenge to BizTown participation: logistics and cost.
While hundreds of students currently participate in JA BizTown programming, they must be transported to and from Fort Wayne to complete the JA BizTown curriculum. This journey can be over two hours each way, and has resulted in the JA BizTown experience being shortened, less impactful or not an option for many schools.
Ninety percent of teachers surveyed said that transportation costs and the time commitment to travel are critical issues affecting their schools’ ability to take part.
And this is while many local districts are facing a shortage of bus drivers, making it difficult to pull buses from their regular routes for travel to Fort Wayne.
The solution: create a South Bend-Elkhart Regional JA BizTown at the ETHOS Innovation Center in Elkhart.
Elkhart and St. Joseph counties need a space where local youth are empowered to discover their potential and turn their ideas of today into the businesses of tomorrow.
That is why JA and regional business leaders are proposing to create a South Bend-Elkhart Regional JA BizTown in Elkhart at the ETHOS Innovation Center.
SOUTH BEND-ELKHART REGIONAL JA BIZTOWN
- Making critical lessons accessible to all kids.
As one of only 30 JA BizTowns in the nation, this facility would create access to important programming for thousands of kids who currently cannot participate due to logistics and cost.
It is estimated that the number of local students participating in JA BizTown experience would be 1,500 in year one, 2,500 in year two and explosive growth of more than 3,000 in year three.
- Fostering quality of place and a collaborative regional spirit.
Elkhart and St. Joseph counties are tightly linked through the regional economy, and the invisible boundaries that used to exist have been replaced by a new, collaborative spirit.
Additionally, employers and employees are looking at us as one community.
As we move forward, efforts like a local BizTown will be essential to building on recent economic progress to enhance the local “quality of place.” We can do this by creating high-quality opportunities for families and kids that encourage them to move here and stay here, and contribute to a growing, talented region.
As a partnership between Elkhart and St. Joseph counties, a new JA BizTown facility would cultivate a stronger sense of regionalism by bringing local businesses together to create an enriching experience that connects students to the community – and to the businesses and leaders that make it a great place to live, work and play.
100% OF TEACHERS SURVEYED SAID THEIR COLLEAGUES WOULD BE MORE LIKELY TO PARTICIPATE IN THE PROGRAM IF THERE WAS A JA BIZTOWN FACILITY IN ELKHART COUNTY.
"As a city where things are invented and made, Elkhart is the perfect place to have such a learning center in our own backyard. The hands- on nature of JA curriculum and the BizTown experience provide opportunities to learn from experts and adults in the community. A local entrepreneurship and financial literacy center is the obvious evolution for this valuable program."
—DR. STEVE THALHEIMER, SUPERINTENDENT AT ELKHART COMMUNITY SCHOOLS
"The BizTown project will be important to strengthening partnerships and aligning education efforts across the South Bend – Elkhart Region. Additionally, it will assure the opportunity for students to excel by enhancing their own skills and becoming aware of career pathways that also help the region thrive by bringing skills and ideas to the marketplace."
—REGINA EMBERTON, THE PRESIDENT & CEO OF THE SOUTH BEND – ELKHART REGIONAL PARTNERSHIP
ABOUT THE PROJECT
After evaluation of multiple sites and examination of cost and programming implications, a collaboration between ETHOS Innovation Center and the Junior Achievement program was determined to be the best long-term solution for fulfilling a vision of youth innovation and entrepreneurship in Elkhart.
SUSTAINABILITY FOR SOUTH BEND-ELKHART REGIONAL JA BIZTOWN
Bringing JA BizTown to our region would create more opportunities for regional businesses to get involved by lending financial and programmatic support. It would allow for better alignment with the regional school curriculum, Elkhart Community Schools’ career pathways initiative and future regional JA program growth.
Elkhart Junior Achievement and Lemonade Day
CURRENT ANNUAL REVENUE = ALMOST $300,000