At this park, money does grow on trees

After several years of funding and volunteer support, Capital One officially donated the Junior Achievement Finance Park to the Junior Achievement of Central Virginia.

The ceremonial key to the park was given to the nonprofit youth organization last night at Spring Rock Green in Richmond. The Finance Park is meant to advance financial literacy.

The park is a 10,000-square-foot facility that teaches eighth-grade students about personal financial management and allows them to explore career possibilities through hands-on experience and classroom lessons.

The park is split into different areas of “real life” expense issues, such as transportation, investments, home improvement, banking, housing, entertainment and health care. Students must figure out how to juggle these areas on a fixed income with the help of educators, teachers and volunteers.

“It’s a basic life skill. Every child is going to work in their lifetime, and this teaches them to manage a budget,” said Anne Marie McHugh president of Junior Achievement of Central Virginia.

About 26,000 students from more than 100 schools in Henrico, Chesterfield, Richmond and Norfolk participated during the past few weeks. In 2006, the year the Finance Park was introduced, JA had 400 students.

“The first year we reached out to schools, but now each school this year has been a repeat school, and they’ve asked to come back,” said Daphne Swanson, chief operating officer of JA.

In 2009, JA received $789,149 in total support and revenue from contributions, grants, and special events. Capital One has been one of the main corporations funding and supporting JA’s programs.

The company partnered with Junior Achievement Worldwide to create Capital One/Junior Achievement Finance Park. They backed JA’s efforts through a series of grants and have made up a large part of JA’s volunteer effort beginning with 60 volunteers in 2006 and growing to 650 today.

“We’re very committed to being active in the community and giving back through financial education,” said David Wasik, senior vice president for Capital One.

Capital One hopes the facility becomes a permanent project for students to use and benefit from.

“Our goal is for all students to go through the Finance Park and use the skills they’ve learned,” Wasik said.

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Linda Heath
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Junior Achievement is a wonderful organization and provides vital economic education to students, who will become tomorrow’s employees, customers, homeowners. Most kids don’t get this information at home. Thank you Capital One!
Linda Heath