August 21, 2014


World's Largest Junior Financial Achievement Center Opens

Mike Vogel | 9/1/2009
Eighth-graders in the Junior Achievement program
Eighth-graders in the Junior Achievement program are assigned business identities.

This month, buses will arrive in Coconut Creek at the world’s largest Junior Achievement “world” center to deposit the first of an estimated 50,000 students who will visit annually for an education in hands-on financial decision-making.

JA World Huizenga Center at Broward College opens nearly 20 years after Marti Huizenga, wife of the Fort Lauderdale billionaire, visited a financial education program called Enterprise Village in Pinellas County at the behest of vacation home neighbor Gus Stavros, a philanthropist who funded the initial program in Pinellas. She resolved to bring something similar to the Fort Lauderdale area.

Junior Achievement of South Florida developed a plan for a giant facility, got Broward College to lease it land just off Florida’s Turnpike for $1 a year and convinced Broward schools to mandate that all fifth- and eighth-graders receive the equivalent of a week’s financial education in their schools and then spend a day at JA World, the largest of 33 such JA facilities in the U.S., Japan and Mexico.

$14.5-million JA World Huizenga Center

At the center, fifth-graders work as proprietors and civic leaders at businesses and offices in a mini-city, trying to satisfy customers, pay off loans and make a profit. Eighth-graders are assigned identities (annual income, education, job) and must prepare budgets and then pay for housing and necessities.

The Huizengas made the initial donation of $2 million. Wayne Huizenga lunched with supporters and lent his plane to fly people to other JA World sites. Local employers sponsor “storefront” space — all those companies and businesses where the children learn to work — to fund annual operations, though JA still needs donations to meet its budget.

Says, Melissa Aiello, JA’s president, of the opening, “it’s a dream come true after many, many years.”

Tags: Southeast, Banking & Finance, Education

Digital Access

Add digital to your current subscription, purchase a single ditgital issue, or start a new subscription to Florida Trend.

An overview of the features and articles in this month's issue of Florida Trend.


Florida Business News

Florida Trend Video Pick

Balloon sculpture at Museum of Fine Arts will blow you away
Balloon sculpture at Museum of Fine Arts will blow you away

If you've ever been impressed by a balloon animal, prepare to be blown away by a new art exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg made up entirely of balloons.

Earlier Videos | Viewpoints@FloridaTrend

Ballot Box

Should the Feds stop sending so much surplus military weapons and armored trucks to local police?

  • Yes, enough already
  • No, every force should be prepared for the worst

See Results

Ballot Box