When a special learning place in the Foster-Powell neighborhood was opened by Junior Achievement (JA) of Oregon and SW Washington – along S.E. Foster Road, in May of 2007 – called BizTown, founders had thought that the 8,500 square foot indoor replica of an American city would be popular. And it has been.
So far, BizTown has served more than 100,000 upper-elementary school students, giving them the unique opportunity to take on the role of "adult" for a day, working in a business.
That's what THE BEE learned, speaking with JA's Vice President for Programs Gina Huntington.
"Having had that number of students here is a big milestone for us; and, we continue to reach about 13,000 students each year in this program," Huntington said. "Our own JA is part of a worldwide nonprofit organization that provides students – from kindergarten through 12th grade – financial literacy, workforce readiness, and entrepreneurship education!"
During the school year, teachers use this program of study in their classrooms. "As a capstone for their program, they spend a day at BizTown, putting to use such skills as apply for success in jobs, opening bank accounts, and 'running' one of the 19 businesses represented here – including City Hall," Huntington said.
Near the end of the day at BizTown on January 22nd, all of its "citizens" gathered in the Town Square, as their Mayor for the day, Carly Hernandez, welcomed Oregon State Treasurer Tobias Read, who had come to visit.
Many of the town's Business Managers gave a brief report, telling how many sales were made, accounts were opened, and citizens were served.
"Speaking as an individual, I think every Oregonian has a lot to be excited about, seeing what's going on here at BizTown – helping kids look forward to being future entrepreneurs, connecting with their community, and businesses, and having a successful future," Read told THE BEE.
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