Cutting the ribbon on the Forcht Bank section of BizTown were (left to right) Justin Badeau, Houston Hall, Mike Noftsger, Tucker Ballinger, Terry Forcht, Debbie Reynolds, Tyronicia Crutcher, and Roger Alsip.

In partnership with Fayette County Public Schools, Junior Achievement (JA) of the Bluegrass recently transformed nearly 13,000 square feet — in a facility previously known as Linlee Elementary School — into a state-of-the-art facility where students from throughout Central Kentucky will go to experience a living lesson in economics, community and financial literacy. The facility is now known as JA BizTown and JA Finance Park.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017, University of Kentucky Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Eric N. Monday, a member of the Junior Achievement of the Bluegrass Board of Directors, and UK Vice President for University Relations Tom Harris participated in the grand opening of the new facility.

In addition to Monday’s service on the board, the university is well represented in JA BizTown as one of the many storefronts on display.

“At the University of Kentucky, every day we ask ourselves, ‘how can we best help our students succeed?,’” Monday said. “I’m honored to be a part of an organization that prepares and empowers young people in such an important way. It mirrors the efforts that are driving success at our university.”

JA BizTown serves upper elementary classes with operating businesses such as a bank, city hall, utilities center, equine center, restaurant, wellness center and more. In JA BizTown, students are able to discover real-life opportunities available in the free enterprise system as they become business operators, taxpayers and consumers. Perhaps most importantly, JA BizTown teaches students the importance of math, economics, technology, social studies, reading and writing in everyday life.

For middle school students, JA Finance Park provides a practical, hands-on personal budgeting simulation. Classroom curriculum is complemented by a visit to the JA Finance Park where students immerse themselves in a reality-based decision-making process addressing individual and family budget considerations such as housing, transportation, food, utilities, health care, investments, philanthropy and banking. JA Finance Park educates students about the implications of financial decisions, encourages them to consider available options and trains them to live within a personal budget.

“JA BizTown and Finance Park provide students with crucial knowledge and skills that will prepare them for success across a range of experiences,” Monday said. “Specifically related to higher education, we know that financial knowledge and financial literacy are crucial issues that often impact whether students return to the university for a new semester, and whether they ultimately graduate. These programs are preparing these students to succeed in college and beyond.”

This story also appears on page 5 of the April 2017 edition of the Hamburg Journal.