Cherokee Nation Foundation’s Junior Achievement teaches students financial literacy
A visiting fifth-grade class conducts a mock town meeting at the Junior Achievement of Oklahoma facility in Tulsa as part of the Cherokee Nation Foundation JA program. COURTESY
Two Briggs Elementary School sixth graders work on “It’s My Future” worksheets as part of the Cherokee Nation Foundation’s Junior Achievement program to get them thinking about their future endeavors. COURTESY
A mock Cherokee Phoenix newspaper office can be found at the Junior Achievement of Oklahoma facility in Tulsa as part of the Cherokee Nation Foundation’s JA program. COURTESY
TULSA – The Cherokee Nation Foundation’s Junior Achievement programs annually serves thousands of school-aged children from fifth to 12th grades in the Cherokee Nation’ jurisdiction via interactive, hands-on curriculum as part of a CNF- and Cherokee Nation Businesses-backed financial literacy initiative.
“Junior Achievement is classroom-based programs delivered to the students by volunteers during the traditional school day,” CNF Executive Director Janice Randall said. “We go through the different programs starting in fifth grade with the simulation at Biztown, and we go all the way through high school. And our high school programs, the schools that use it, it also fulfills the requirement for their economics program.”
JA courses offered are JA Biztown, It’s My Future, It’s My Business, Economics for Success, JA Personal Finance and JA Finance Park.
In JA Biztown, fifth grade students travel to the Junior Achievement of Oklahoma facility in Tulsa for a daylong visit to a simulated town where they learn different jobs and how a town operates.
“They learn about payroll, they learn about credit cards and they even interview for the jobs that they will be working in,” Marisa Hambleton CNF executive assistant, said. “They have their own mail service. They have a Reasor’s (grocery store). They have an Arby’s. They have a bank. Pretty much everything a town needs to function they have, and these students actually go there and they’re working these positions. It’s a very, very cool program and it’s one of our favorites.”
JA Biztown is in a commercial space occupied by the tribe, and includes a simulated Cherokee Phoenix newspaper.
It’s My Future teaches sixth graders to start thinking about their future endeavors.
“It’s all about teaching the kids to start thinking about their future even as sixth graders. What career would they want to do and how would they get to that career? And basically everything about their beliefs, their skills and their interests, how that portrays later on in life,” Hambleton said.
Seventh graders learn about entrepreneurship in the It’s My Business sector.
“I think one thing that I’ve really realized in helping with these programs is that our kids, now, they’re thinking so far out of the box that they’re wanting to own their own businesses and really trying to fill a need in their community,” Hambleton said.
Eighth graders learn about budgeting in Economics for Success.
“It’s pretty similar to JA Biztown except it’s a classroom program and it’s only six lessons. But the students are really thinking about their future careers, how much money they would make in those future careers and then how to get there,” Hambleton added.
High school students continue learning financial concepts via JA Personal Finance, JA Finance Park and JA Investor’s Challenge.
Hambleton said, for example, JA Finance Park is the high school version of JA Biztown and students are given a job, learn how to budget for a month, learn to pay bills and other needed payments.
She said JA officials try to get community members to volunteer for the different programs, such as CNB employees or volunteers from local banks.
“All of our programs require volunteers. We try to get members of their community. That way it shows the kids members of their community and the jobs that they’re doing and they create that relationship with those students,” Hambleton said.
The JA program served around 5,700 students in the past school year, Cherokee and non-Native, and with the help of grants and CNB funding the number is expected to increase for the 2019-20 school year.
“We’ve been very fortunate with Cherokee Nation Businesses. It’s what funds these programs and any school that has called and asked ‘can we go to Biztown?’ or ‘can you come in and do JA programs?’ we’ve been able to help,” Randall said.
For information, visit www.cherokeenationfoundation.org