More than 100 business leaders and community members turned out Wednesday to celebrate the dedication and official opening of the Community First Career Exploration & Financial Literacy Center on the Fox Valley Technical College campus.
Junior Achievement of Wisconsin and FVTC collaborated to make the center a reality with the financial support of lead investor Community First Credit Union. The center is poised to provide more than 15,000 fourth- through 12th-graders each year with financial literacy skills and career exploration experiences. That will include a special emphasis on STEM education and local career opportunities.
JA partnered with FVTC in 2018 to launch a $2.7 million capital campaign to create the new center. In addition to support from the area business community, the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region provided grants totaling $733,000.
Two of the center’s premier programs are JA BizTown and JA Finance Park. The center is divided into 12 storefronts, each led by a professional or higher education student mentor.
BizTown provides older elementary school students with an immersive career exploration experience. It encourages students to begin to identify strengths and interests that could be applied to an eventual career choice and introduces key aspects of the economy.
Finance Park is geared toward eighth- and ninth-graders. They learn about personal finances and topics such as loans, credit, insurance, assessing housing options and evaluating the cost of choices such as having kids. At this level, students choose and explore a specific career.
“When you have that kind of preparation and that kind of hands-on, minds-on experience, you really remember it,” says Michael Frohna, president of Junior Achievement of Wisconsin.
For FVTC President and CEO Susan May, the opening of the center is the realization of a long-held vision both the college and JA had held. She says sustained corporate investment and involvement will be key to helping the center thrive — and that’s off to an excellent start.
“We need the business community to be part of this. I think they have as much to gain from exposure to young people as anyone else,” she says.
For more on the center, look for our full feature in the upcoming February issue of Insight.