Press Releases

Demolition Begins for new Mission Fed JA Finance Park at the Capdevilla Gillespie Center for Junior Achievement located in Mission Valley

January 15, 2015

JA Finance Park brings together thousands of San Diego students, teachers, volunteers and businesses to prepare students for financial success

The high-tech learning facility will open its doors Fall 2015

SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Staff and Board Members from Junior Achievement of San Diego County, along with corporate leaders from Mission Federal Credit Union, Balfour Beatty Construction and Gensler, the architect, will kick-off construction for the new Mission Fed JA Finance Park.  The live demolition event will be on Thursday, Jan. 15 from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at the Capdevilla Gillespie Center for Junior Achievement, located at 4756 Mission Gorge Place, San Diego, 92120. 

Construction for the $4.4 million interactive learning campus, which includes state of the art technology and extensive audio/visual equipment throughout the facility, started this week and will open its doors to thousands of San Diego teens, young adults and families this fall 2015.   The Park will teach the teens how to make intelligent financial decisions that will last a lifetime including a classroom curriculum and a one-day experience to Mission Fed JA Finance Park. 

“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 aren’t always 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.”  She noted the curriculum at the Park better prepares millennials for financial success through the technology they’ve become accustomed to using on a daily basis.   On average, 44 percent of teens look at their phones more than six times an hour.

Designed by Gensler, the 6,300 square foot, high-tech facility takes “reality-based” learning to a new level by placing students in authentic, tangible, real-world scenarios, where they take control of their financial decisions. The Mission Fed JA Finance Park experience will feature three specialized areas and a new outdoor terrace:    


  • The Situation Room:  Upon entering the Park, each student will be directed to “The Situation Room,” where they will receive a unique “life-situation” of their adult life to include job, salary, age, marital status, FICO score and monthly taxes. This room will feature state of the art technology, such as a “Tablet Wall” and large “Green Screen” for video production.


  • Shops in the Park:  After students received their life situation, they have to make the best choices for their “family” based on their “income.”  This starts by visiting the “Circle of Life.”   There will be 14 shops and five freestanding kiosks, where students have to buy a car, shop for groceries, purchase a home, establish a savings account, make investments and donate to charity. The shops are sponsored by leading San Diego businesses.  Currently, YMCA of San Diego, Mission Federal Credit Union and United Way of San Diego are lead shop sponsors.  At the end of the day, students must have a balanced banking account.   


  • Career Center:  The “Career Center” will be home to an impressive digital database of lectures, salaries, job openings and tools to help students plan for a successful future in their field, beyond their one-day Park experience.  It is sponsored by The San Diego International Airport and the Farrell Family Foundation.


  • Outdoor Terrace:  All Park participants will enjoy the new “Outdoor Terrace” sponsored by Laurie and Carlee McGrath.  The spacious patio area will consist of several large decks and terraced steps for comfortable seating and lunch.   

The project incorporates many sustainable features meeting California Green Buildings Standards such as energy and resource efficient plumbing, mechanical and lighting fixtures/equipment as well as eco-friendly finish materials throughout the facility that complement the solar panels.  

“This ground breaking is a culmination of efforts by many people, both in the private and public sectors and is a testament to how a community can work together to achieve great success,” said Brian Cahill, President of Balfour Beatty Construction in the Southwest. “Balfour Beatty Construction is looking forward to making this dream of Junior Achievement a reality in June of this year.”

The Balfour Beatty Construction team and 28 different trade contractors are involved in the construction of the Park.  Many construction team members have donated materials, labor and equipment to the project to make sure it is completed within the set budget.  It will take roughly 20,000 man hours to complete the new Park.  

“Thank you Gensler for designing it, Balfour Beatty Construction for building it and Mission Federal Credit Union for naming it,” said Joanne Pastula, President and CEO at Junior Achievement of San Diego County.  “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.”

Established in 2003, JA Finance Park is one of Junior Achievement’s most successful programs, and more than 1 million students across the United States have gone through the hands-on program since it first began. 



About Mission Fed JA Finance Park:

Mission Fed JA Finance Park is the evolution of the McGrath Family JA BizTown program, where 5th grade students learn how to work as adults in a simulated business community.  JA Finance Park prepares students to begin to plan their next steps after high school. Mission Fed JA Finance Park gives local companies the chance to make a positive, lasting impression on students as they are preparing for their adult lives after high school.  For additional information, please visit

About Mission Federal Credit Union:

Mission Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit organization providing a wide variety of financial services to meet the needs of its customers.  With more than $2.5 billion in assets, over 25 local branches, and more than 174,000 members, Mission Fed is the largest, locally based credit union exclusively serving San Diego County.  Mission Fed enhances the lives of its customers through financial education and financial services.  In addition, Mission Fed contributes to hundreds of non-profit educational and community organizations.  At Mission Fed, your success is our bottom line.  All San Diegans are welcome. Federally insured by NCUA. To learn more, visit


About Balfour Beatty Construction:

An industry leader for more than 80 years, Balfour Beatty Construction provides general contracting, at risk construction management, and design-build services for a wide variety of markets, serving clients in both the public and private sector. With more than 2,400 employees across the U.S., the company has been cited as a Top 10 Green Builder by Engineering News-Record, and as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For® by FORTUNE magazine, four years in a row. The company is part of London based Balfour Beatty plc, a global infrastructure services business operating in more than 80 countries, with a worldwide commitment to providing assets that help societies function, develop, and thrive. To learn more about the company, visit or look for BalfourBeattyUS on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.


About Junior Achievement of San Diego County:

Junior Achievement of San Diego works locally to impact 53,000 students in K-12 classrooms each year.  Junior Achievement’s volunteer-based programs teach kids how to get a job, start a business and how money works. For more information on programs in San Diego and Imperial Counties, please visit