A new partnership between Junior Achievement of Wisconsin and Milwaukee Public Schools will connect 5,000 fifth grade students with learning opportunities that simulate the real-world responsibilities of running a business.
Through the partnership, announced on Thursday, all of MPS’s fifth grade students will take part in the MPS Learning Journey programming, in collaboration with Junior Achievement, and will have access to JA BizTown.
The program, facilitated by the JA Kohl’s Education Center in Milwaukee, immerses students in adult life by allowing them to run a simulated town and join one of 15 businesses in the town.
The JA BizTown, which includes a bank, restaurant, city hall and newspapers, bridges students’ social studies classroom lessons with real-world applications.
“The JA BizTown program provides MPS students with a realistic opportunity to experience how basic economic concepts are used in the real world,” MPS superintendent Darienne Driver, Ph.D., said in an announcement. “By participating in JA BizTown, our students experience the responsibilities and opportunities of citizenship in a free enterprise system.”
Prior to the newly announced partnership, about 2,000 fifth grade students in the district had access to JA BizTown curriculum. Together, MPS and Junior Achievement are now opening up programming for all fifth graders.
Through their partnership, more than 200 MPS teachers will likely tap into JA BizTown programming this school year. Before exposing their students to the simulation, participating teachers will attend a curriculum training session.
A cohort of more than 1,000 volunteers will also help run the model town, including community members and MPS parents, who act as professional role models and work with students to operate their businesses.
“With the help of our community volunteers, we are equipping these students with the skills and confidence they need to become successful economic citizens in our community,” said Tim Greinert, president of Junior Achievement of Wisconsin. “It is our hope that we ignite their passion for a particular career or industry.”
Last year, Junior Achievement’s educational programming touched more than 166,000 students across the state. The nonprofit organization promotes student development of skills in financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship and works to draw parallels between classroom lessons and real-world scenarios.