Globe Online Staff and Junior Achievement Strike Up Educational Partnership

Online staff volunteers from L to R: Valana Hillard, Jessica Dietrich, Serena Franken, Jared Nelson and Paul VanBrunt

Last week, five Globe University-Online staff members (including myself) took part in a half-day of volunteer work that left approximately 60 metro area kids just a little bit wiser when it comes to the ins-and-outs of running a community.

The team of Online volunteers partnered up with a wildly popular nonprofit in the Twin Cities area called Junior Achievement (JA). JA is responsible for helping to educate nearly 12,000 4th – 6th grade students each year. To do this, the JA organization relies on the help of volunteers such as my co-workers and myself.

The morning of volunteer work kicked off in the 10,000 square foot JA-Biztown facility, located in Maplewood, Minnesota. The facility itself has been designed to mirror a kid-sized community with the students becoming the citizens of Biztown. The facility is home to a mock bank, city hall, grocery store and other important businesses a typical community would have.

Prior to the Globe University volunteer’s arrival, the kids had spent a morning assigning various roles within the community, including integral positions such as the mayor, CEO, CFO and many more. Once each student was given a role to fulfill in the community the real fun began. Students arrived at the Biztown facility and got straight to work operating the various businesses in the community. CEOs of businesses were expected to keep a close eye on their products as well as their employees. Each student was given a checkbook and a debit card to use in the community to buy various products or services such as popcorn in the deli, snacks from the grocery store, and even shout-outs to their classmates over the Biztown radio station.

The primary role of the volunteers in Biztown is to help facilitate the transactions students are making, as well as providing general guidance and supervision to students. Often times students have questions on how to balance their checkbooks, where to cash their paychecks, and how to pay the invoices coming in and out of their businesses.