March 28, 2014 Updated: March 28, 2014 at 3:55 pm
Junior Achievement of Southern Colorado plans to move next week into a larger office that will give it more room to operate programs that teach schoolchildren about finance and business.
The nonprofit bought a former Goodwill building at 2320 West Colorado Ave. in September for $600,000, said David Loose, president and chief executive officer.
The 18,000 square-foot building will allow the organization to implement its JA BizTown program for fifth graders, and the JA Finance Park program for eighth graders, Loose said. JA will build "towns" in the new building for both programs that include numerous mock businesses. Schoolchildren will operate the towns' businesses - buying and selling products, paying taxes and mortgages and experiencing other budgeting situations. Beforehand, they'll get business lessons in the classroom.
Neither program is expected to start until about early 2016, Loose said.
"The eighth grade students study 20 lesson plans and learn the five things to do with money, which are: earn it, spend it, save it, invest it and protect it," Loose said. "And when they walk though the door, we give them an annual earnings sheet and help them make decisions and balance their budgets."
The eight graders are given real-life scenarios, such as: They are married with two kids and have the annual salary of a doctor, or a minimum wage worker. They must then buy a car, a house, food, and pay utilities, taxes and other expenses.
"It teaches them that one decision affects another decision," Loose said.
JA expects to close on its current building at 419 West Bijou St. on April 7. It is selling that building for $188,000, Loose said.
JA's four full-time and seven part-time employees will make the move.
The southern Colorado JA teaches finance and business to about 30,000 youth from about 46 counties and western Kansas annually. Loose said the new building will allow the organization to bring in about 8,000 youths for BizTown and other training annually. The organization is hoping to raise $3.9 million from private and public donors. As of Friday, JA had raised $1.8 million.
Junior Achievement of Southern Colorado is a local branch of Junior Achievement USA, which has its national headquarters in the Springs.
Contact Ned Hunter: 636-0275