On the Money

Junior Achievement Discovery Center of the CSRA

Photography by Wallace Dickerson

You’re never too young to know how to handle your finances.

Now, sixth and seventh graders can learn about financial independence and responsibility through two programs at the newly opened Junior Achievement Discovery Center of the CSRA.

The initiative, which is a collaboration between the school districts in Columbia and Richmond counties, provides a simulated version of the area business community.

More than 30 local companies, organizations and educational institutions have storefronts in the center, which is located in the Columbia County School District Support Department Complex on River Watch Parkway.

“Students are going to go through these programs and learn from our greater community,” says Steve Flynt, the Columbia County superintendent of schools. “What can our students become or learn about what they can do with the rest of their lives?”

The two programs – JA BizTown and JA Finance Park – will teach up to 15,000 students annually about business, careers, financial literacy and entrepreneurship.

In JA BizTown, sixth graders interact within the simulated local economy to learn how to run a business.

Teaching Finances to youthJA Finance Park assigns a life situation to seventh graders to help them develop economic skills to cope with the circumstances and learn how their decisions affect their futures.

The programs begin with about 20 hours of classroom lessons. This instruction prepares students for a full-day, hands-on, immersive experience at JA BizTown or JA Finance Park, where they work alongside their peers and adult volunteers to apply the skills and knowledge they have learned.

David Dekle, the Columbia County Board of Education chairman, says the center will be open to students in local school districts besides Columbia and Richmond counties as well. This center is one of 30-plus nationwide and the sixth in Georgia.

By Betsy Gilliland