JA Finance Park®

JA Finance Park curriculum cover
Program Overview
JA Finance Park is Junior Achievement’s capstone program for personal financial planning and career exploration. This program, comprising a curriculum and a simulation, helps students in grades 7–12 build a foundation on which they can make intelligent financial decisions that last a lifetime, including decisions related to income, expenses, savings, and credit.

There are two levels of content available for JA Finance Park: Entry Level and Advanced. The topics and concepts track closely with national financial literacy standards and are intended to prompt students to begin thinking about and planning for their financial future. This educator-led classroom curriculum culminates with a visit to JA Finance Park, a realistic on-site or mobile facility, or virtually in the classroom, where students engage with volunteers and put into practice what they’ve learned by developing a personal budget.

In the Entry Level curriculum geared toward middle school students (grades 7–8), a minimum of 13 lessons are offered in either a traditional classroom presentation format or a project-based learning (PBL) format. The Entry Level curriculum includes the following units: Income, Debit and Credit, Savings, Investing and Risk Management, and Budget+. Both traditional or PBL formats provide educators a method of delivery that will best meet the needs of their students. Additional extension activities are available for each lesson topic.

The Advanced curriculum gives high school students (grades 9–12) a more personal focus. While it is not mandatory for students to have completed the Entry Level curriculum of JA Finance Park to have success with the Advanced curriculum, it is advisable that students have background in the following financial literacy concepts before participating in the Advanced curriculum: Earning and Income; Financial Goals; Insurance; Spending and Saving; Credit; Investing.

Pillars of Student Success Entrepreneurship:
Financial Literacy:
Work Readiness:
Program Implementation Program Grade-Level
JA-Capstone Grades 7-12
Program Concepts Program Skills
Banking, Benefits, Budgets, Buying, Careers, Choices, Consumers, Credit, Debt, Exchange, Expenses, Income, Interest rates, Investments, Government, Money, Needs, Opportunity costs, Risk, Salary, Saving, Savings, Scarcity, Social Security, Taxes, Wages, Wants Active listening, Analysis, Applying information, Brainstorming, Budgeting, Cause and effect, Charting, Comparing, Computation, Critical thinking, Data collection, Decision making, Filling out forms, Following directions, Graphing, Interpersonal communication, Interpreting data, Listening, Math computation, Negotiation, Observation, Planning, Problem solving, Reading, Research, Role-playing, Self-reflection, Spending, Taking responsibility, Teamwork, Writing, Verbal communication

Program Sessions

Entry Level Unit: Income

Students recognize the fundamental role of income in managing their personal finances and the factors that affect income and take-home pay. Students begin to understand that the decisions they make about education and career will have an impact on their potential income and quality of life.

Option One: Traditional Lesson Format
Three (Required) 45-Minute Lessons

-Lesson One: Plan Your Future
Students will make the distinction between abilities, aptitudes, interests, work preferences, and values. They will explore various sources of income, including salaries and wages, interest, and business profit.

-Lesson Two: Careers
Students identify their career interests and goals as a way to earn future income. They set a career goal they will revisit at the end of the program.

-Lesson Three: Taxes and My Income
Students learn the three main sources of government's tax on income and determine net monthly income by deducting federal income tax, Social Security, and Medicare deductions.

Option Two: Project-Based Learning Lesson Format
Four (Required) 45-Minute Lessons

-Lesson One: My Life: Got Skills?
Students will rate their interests, abilities, and values. They will determine work preferences and match them to career options.

-Lesson Two: My Life: College or Not?
Students explore how their decisions about education and career have an impact on their income potential and quality of life.

-Lesson Three: My Life: Where's All My Money? Part One
Students are introduced to the concept of taxes, why they are paid, and their impact on income. They will determine net monthly income.

-Lesson Four: My Life: Where's All My Money? Part Two
Working in teams, students debate the use of tax dollars and how they are distributed.

Entry Level Unit: Saving, Investing, and Risk Management

Students explore saving and compare investments as a part of their overall financial planning. They also examine risk and how insurance may help protect savings.

Option One: Traditional Lesson Format
Two (Required) 45-Minute Lessons

-Lesson One: Saving and Investing
Students are introduced to various short- and long-term saving and investment options such as savings accounts, stocks, and mutual funds.
-Lesson Two: Managing Risk
Students recognize that insurance policies are a common way to minimize risk for accidents and unforeseen circumstances.

Option Two: Project-Based Learning Format
Two (Required) 45-Minute Lessons

-Lesson One: My Life–Pay Myself First?
Students examine how they can benefit from paying themselves first. They compare the impact that money, time, interest rates, and inflation have on the growth of their investment.
-Lesson Two: My Life–Insurance Too?
Students recognize that insurance policies safeguard against risk by providing compensation in the event of sickness, injury, accidents, or other insured circumstances.

Entry Level Unit: Debit and Credit

Students compare financial institutions and their services. Through discussion and a game activity they also weigh the advantages and disadvantages of debit and credit. Lastly, students examine the role of credit scores and credit reporting have on personal finances.

Option One: Traditional Lesson Format
Four (Required) 45-Minute Lessons

-Lesson One: Banking Partners
Students identify the types of financial institutions and the services they provide.
-Lesson Two: Personal Spending
Students become aware of the advantages and disadvantages of debit and credit cards.
-Lesson Three: Savvy Shopping
Students participate in the Savvy Shopper game and see first-hand the costs and benefits of debit and credit.
-Lesson Four: Managing Credit
Students explore credit reports and credit scores, discover why they are important, and learn how to build good credit.

Option Two: Project-Based Learning Format
Three (Required) 45-Minute Lessons
-Lesson One: My Life–Financial Institutions
Students identify the various types of financial institutions and the services they provide.
-Lesson Two: My Life–The Cost of Credit
Students explain the use of debit and credit cards and their advantages and disadvantages.
-Lesson Three: My Life–My Credit Score
Students understand what a credit score is, why it is important, and how to build good credit.

Entry Level Unit: Budget +

Students discover the importance of spending money wisely and recognize a budget as a valuable tool. They create personal budgets based on saving and lifestyle goals and day-to-day situations.

Option One: Traditional Lesson Format
Three (Required) 45-Minute Lessons
-Lesson One: Think Before You Spend
Students define what good money management is and why it is important. They discuss how setting financial goals and being an informed consumer will help them better manage their money.
-Lesson Two: What is a Budget?
Students identify the components of a successful budget.
-Lesson Three: Who Uses a Budget?
Students practice budgeting and learn how this tool can help them responsibly manage their daily finances.

Option Two: Project-Based Learning Format
Three (Required) 45-Minute Lessons Plus Project Preparation
-Lesson One: My Life - "Riches to Rags" . . . Not Me!
Students explore common reasons why people run into financial difficulty, including unemployment, medical bills, overextended credit, and poor decision making.
-Lesson Two: My Life: Income - Expenses = Reality
Students identify the components of a successful budget and distinguish between different kinds of budgets.
-Lesson Three: My Life – In Control of My Money
Students will make choices and discover how to maintain a budget. They will prepare a budget based on goals and income.
-Culminating Project Preparation: Two class sessions or homework
Using the knowledge and skills gained from the JA Finance Park curriculum, students create a portfolio and presentation describing their education path, career path, savings goals, risk management strategy, or budget plan.

Entry Level Unit: The Simulation and Debriefing

Simulation (applies to both Traditional and Project Based Learning Lesson Formats)

Students experience the JA Finance Park simulation, where they apply classroom learning by creating a family budget based on a hypothetical life situation. Students recognize the impact of credit history on budget planning and purchasing options.

Option One: Traditional Lesson Format
During the debriefing, students revisit their career goals to see how the JA Finance Park experience may have changed their goals or plans for the future.

Option Two: Project-Based Learning Format
-My Life Presentation
Students present their insights and knowledge related to one of the four JA Finance Park curriculum sections.

Advanced Theme One: Employment and Income

Students will learn how career choices can affect personal income potential. This theme consists of two teacher-led foundation sessions that are 45 minutes in length. There are also several optional self-guided extension activities available to deepen and expand on the foundational learning, including topics such as My Work Values and Entrepreneurial Strengths and Talents. Students also have an opportunity to complete Program Pre-Test.

Advanced Theme Two: Employment and Education

Students will begin planning for their futures by exploring different occupations and secondary education options. This theme consists of one 45-minute teacher-led session. Optional self-guided extension activities include topics such as Paying for Post-Secondary Education and Interpreting a Financial Aid Award Letter.

Advanced Theme Three: Financial Responsibility and Decision Making

Students will consider the importance of setting and prioritizing financial goals and the decision making steps needed to obtain them. This theme consists of one 45-minute teacher-led session. Optional self-guided extension activities include topics such as Buying your First Car and Philanthropy.

Advanced Theme Four: Planning and Money Management

Students will learn budgeting concepts to improve their understanding of how to manage their personal finances. This theme consists of one 45-minute teacher-led session. Optional self-guided extension activities include topics such as Extracurricular Expenses and A World Without Cash.

Advanced Theme Five: Risk Management and Insurance

Young adults under thirty often think they do not need life, health, and disability insurance. Students will discover that the decision to purchase insurance takes careful thought and consideration. This theme consists of one 45-minute teacher-led session. There are two optional self-guided extension activities: Auto Insurance and Mortgages.

Advanced Theme Six: Investing

Students will explore the advantages of investing in a diversified portfolio as part of a personal financial plan. Students will learn about a variety of investment options and explore reasons for investing, such as retirement. This theme consists of one 45-minute teacher-led session. There are two optional self-guided extension activities: Purchasing Stocks and Investing for Retirement.

Advanced Theme Seven: Simulation and Debrief

Students will participate in the JA Finance Park simulation (at an on-site or mobile facility, or virtually). Then students will reflect on the activities they participated in during the simulation and engage in an activity to connect their learnings and takeaways from the simulation to their future career and money management goals. Students can also complete Program Post-Test to determine their knowledge gain over the course of the program.

Program Videos

JA Finance Park Advanced
JA Finance Park Virtual
Project-Based Learning Curriculum Option
Simulation (Entry Level)
Simulation (On-Site)

Program Correlations


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