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This Valley program is teaching kids how to run a business, and they need your help

JA BizTown prepares Arizona 4th through 6th graders for the real world by teaching money management and more.

TEMPE, Ariz. — The holidays are expensive and draining our bank accounts as we speak. While the financial aspect can be stressful, it’s also a great time to teach our kids how to be smart with money.

Nonprofits like Junior Achievement of Arizona that teach money management and more are important and timely. A recent study out of BYU shows children need a hands-on approach when it comes to learning how to save.

One of those students getting hands-on business experience in Tempe is Cade Cicaleic. He's a fifth grader, a natural leader and wise beyond his years. Cade still has a little more time before putting his skills to work and settling on a career. But with JA BizTown, he’s getting a head start and taking one of the top spots among classmates.

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"We do jobs here," Cade said. "I’m the CEO of honor health.”

JA BizTown prepares Arizona 4th through 6th graders for the real world, said Anne Landers, Vice President of Strategic Impact.

“They learn about jobs, they learn about money," Landers said. "They learn how to think entrepreneurially and critically and they’re the adults for the day.”

Businesses like Chick-fil-A, Freeport-McMoRan, Bell Bank and others make up the town for students to experience. It takes about 6,500 volunteers to run JA Biztown and all of the other programs they have every year in Arizona. That’s people from the business community, parents and motivated people in the community. 

It’s also where Sonoran Foothills Elementary fifth graders like Cade are putting their economy studies from the classroom to the test.

“They’re running businesses, they’re the consumers for the day managing their own money, and they’re the adults," Landers said.

Fifth grade adults for the day, being led by adult volunteers with some life experience, like Tim Husted.

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“I am the counselor for the Bell Bank Section," Husted said. He's taking on tall tasks with these future business leaders.

“We’re effectively making sure all of the individual loans are getting paid that each of the different businesses are running," Husted said. 

It’s also a program that needs about 6,500 volunteers to keep going strong. Last year Landers said they served 106,000 students statewide.

“So imagine that’s people from the business community, parents, that’s just motivated individuals who make a difference of today’s students," Landers said.

And it's volunteers guiding Cade and his classmates as they make their big ideas a reality.

“We sell stuff like anybody from our job can sell it as long as you’re making money," Cade said. "That’s what we do.”

So these students leave with skills and knowledge to break tall ceilings as adults. 

Anyone interested in volunteering with one of JA BizTown's programs can log on to find out more. 


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