CUMMING, Ga. — The City of Cumming is investing in the future of the community by signing on as the presenting sponsor for the Junior Achievement Discovery Center at North Georgia.
This $75,000 a year sponsorship will give the city the largest and most prominent storefront at the center which will be a middle school entrepreneurship and financial literacy experience.
The sponsorship will be for five years totaling $375,000.
Councilman Christopher Light cast the lone dissenting vote and asked whether the city should sponsor at the $50,000 level instead.
The center will be on the campus of the Alliance Academy for Innovation, the county’s first college and career development high school, which opens next fall, but won’t be part of the school.
All Forsyth County middle schoolers will take field trips to the center throughout the school year to learn life skills, such as how to run a business, pay taxes and balance a checkbook.
The North Georgia center will serve other school systems nearby, including Hall County, Lumpkin County, Dawson County, the city of Gainesville and the city of Calhoun.
The center is expected to have an annual impact on more than 15,000 middle school students, 2,500 volunteers, 600 teachers from six school systems and 100 corporate and community partners.
Before students set foot in the center, they will spend about 20 hours of instruction time learning lessons that will help them succeed during the simulations. For the past two years, the district has piloted the program in schools so students are able to experience it in their classrooms.
The sixth graders will participate in “JA Biztown,” where they will interact within a simulated economy and take on the challenge of running a business, according to Forsyth County Schools College and Career Development Director Dr. Valery Lowe.
The seventh or eighth graders will participate in “JA Finance Park,” an immersive simulation that enables them to develop skills to successfully navigate today’s economic environment.
Students will come in, elect a mayor for the day, participate in business transactions and receive speeding tickets for running in the hall.
“They will learn how to work, live in an economy, buy and sell things,” Lowe said. “The centers are developed to resemble the communities they’re in. Everything you and I do on a daily basis as far as interacting with a city, they’ll do.”
The program has two similar centers in the state, including the Junior Achievement Chick-fil-A Foundation Discovery Center which opened in August 2013 in Atlanta, and the Junior Achievement Discovery Center at Gwinnett which opened in 2015. There are about 30 different discovery centers across the country, Lowe said.
Some of the storefronts in the Atlanta and Gwinnett centers include local governments, Home Depot, Wells Fargo and QuikTrip.
Currently, two businesses, Delta and Georgia United Credit Union, have signed on for the North Georgia location. Other storefronts could include colleges, healthcare, entertainment, utilities or transportation.
To learn about the center and academy, visit georgia.ja.org.