Junior Achievement of San Diego County Announces the Grand Opening of Mission Fed JA Finance Park

Junior Achievement of San Diego County (JA) celebrates the Grand Opening for the nonprofit’s newest education center, Mission Fed JA Finance Park. More than 400 JA supporters attend historical grand opening on October 1st at the Capdevilla Gillespie Center for Junior Achievement, located at 4756 Mission Gorge Place, San Diego, 92120.

Built by the innovative team of Balfour Beatty Construction and designed by the creative architect firm of Gensler, the 6,300 square foot, high-tech facility takes “reality-based” learning to a new level by placing students in authentic, real-world scenarios, where they take control of their financial decisions. The JA Finance Park experience allows students to imagine who they want to be, while providing hands-on tools to plan for their future and reach their full career potential. 

“San Diego’s success lies in the cultivation of our young people. To ensure our growth and competitiveness we need to cultivate the next generation of professionals right here on our home turf, which is why we are thrilled to bring Finance Park to the San Diego community,” said Joanne Pastula, President and CEO at Junior Achievement of San Diego County.  “We are so thankful for our friends at Mission Federal Credit Union, who share JA’s passion for inspiring youth to dream for a bigger and brighter future.”

“One of the ways Mission Fed gives back to the community is through our commitment to financial education,” said Angie Lasagna, Vice President of Community Relations for Mission Fed. “High schools are not readily able to offer the types of economics courses that help students learn to budget their money. That is where Mission Fed JA Finance Park can play a key role.  We want to do our part to help high school students gain the skills they’ll need to manage their money and reach their goals as confident, successful members of the community.”


The Mission Fed JA Finance Park Experience

Our high school students are more tech savvy than ever.  This is why when students first enter the Park, they will not find paper or pencils.  Instead, students go through the simulation using Samsung tablets and mobile app technology.  Incorporating technology into student learning is important because the Park appeals to a generation that relies heavily on technology to navigate everyday needs.

 Students then receive a “life situation” and income based upon a real San Diego job they chose in the classroom.  The students are then challenged to research and make the best choices for their “families” based on their salaries. This “life situation” activity starts by visiting 14 shops and five freestanding kiosks, where students have to buy a car, shop for groceries, purchase a home, make investments and donate to charity.

 During their experience, they face real-life situations and financial problems:

  • What kind of house can I afford?
  • Do I buy a pricey new sports car or a practical vehicle that works for my family’s needs? 
  • How important is my credit rating?

Vivikah Cuevas, a 16-year old student at Clairemont High recently had the opportunity to put her money management skills to the test during a school field trip to the Park.  “Wow,” expressed Cuevas.  “I had no idea San Diego is so expensive. I quickly realized getting an apartment on my own, at the age of 18, is not going to happen unless I start saving lots of money now or have lots of roommates.”

 At the end of the day, students, along with the assistance of community volunteers, must have a balanced budget. They also have the opportunity to visit our on-site career center to explore real-life job opportunities in San Diego.

Finance Park is not only for high school students.  JA for Everyone is where families and individuals— of all ages and backgrounds—can participate in the simulation of Mission Fed JA Finance Park and learn how to budget and plan and/or enhance their career.

 “We welcome adults and families who want to learn from the mistakes they’ve made or avoid them all together,” explained JA Finance Park Campaign Manager Martha Phillips.

More than 40 leading San Diego companies have already joined forces to open Mission Fed JA Finance Park.  The shops are sponsored by the following businesses: YMCA of San Diego, Ford Motor Company and the San Diego County Ford Dealers, Mission Federal Credit Union, Kaiser Permanente, United Way of San Diego County, and Samsung in partnership with Eastridge Workforce Solutions.  Qualcomm, the San Diego International Airport, the Farrell Family Foundation and Laurie and Carlee McGrath are also sponsoring key learning centers inside and outside the Park.

“Thank you Gensler for dreaming it, Balfour Beatty Construction for building it and Mission Fed for naming it and TekWorks for bringing it to life,” said Mission Fed JA Finance Park Campaign Manager Martha Phillips. “JA Finance Park has been in our plans since we opened McGrath Family JA BizTown in 2006 and we are so thankful to all of our supporters who have personally given, along with the corporate and family foundations, for making Mission Fed JA Finance Park a reality.”    

To find out more on how you and your company can get involved today to build a financially strong future for tomorrow visit:

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Kristi Zimsky

Kristi Zimsky

PR and Social Media Manager