JA BizTown

“Our boys and girls got to explore some of their own leadership qualities as they took on various roles. In every case, they took their ‘jobs’ very seriously. Many students have expressed that they now think more about what they want to be and what skills they will need to make those careers happen.”
—JA BizTown principal, Anne Arundel County Public Schools

What is JA BizTown?

It’s difficult for young students to understand how an economy works when they don’t actively participate in it. Children rarely have opportunities to experience real-life economic, workplace and personal finance challenges and benefit from the learning those challenges provide.

JA BizTown is a 10,000 square-foot, life-like city designed to reflect the importance of workplace performance and financial decisions in an authentic economy. After a few weeks of in-classroom coursework, fourth- through sixth-grade students are selected for a job and spend a day at the JA facility to experience what a typical day in the life of an adult may be like. The fun, immersive atmosphere inspires teamwork, critical thinking, and decision-making skills for each student.

JA BizTown enables parent and community volunteers to guide students through their day in the simulated economy. A volunteer team of 15-20 people assists with every part of JA BizTown’s real-life scenarios

Biz Town 2016 from Baltimore County Public Schools on Vimeo.

JA BizTown Curriculum


JA BizTown helps students develop a stronger link between what they learn in school and the realities of how our economy works. For many kids, it’s the first time they experience the interconnectedness of each of our lives. When students take on a different role in this “micro-economy,” they witness how their decisions affect each other.

Examples of roles students get to play:

  • -CEO
  • -CFO
  • -Radio station DJ
  • -Salesperson
  • -Food and beverage manager
  • -Bank teller
  • -Mayor

Each role has its own perks and challenges, and students can see the complexity of an economy unfold before their eyes.

JA BizTown Volunteer Experience

After participating in an in-school curriculum taught by the teacher, students come to JA BizTown to become “adults” for one day through applied hands-on learning. As a volunteer at JA BizTown, you help guide students through the day, bringing your first-hand knowledge of the “real world” to enhance their experiences.

A team of 15-20 volunteers guides students through JA BizTown visit day, with JA staff on-site to lead the simulation. Online training is provided prior to your JA BizTown visit. Volunteers also arrive early on simulation day for hands-on instruction.

What to Expect

  • -JA BizTown is a non-traditional, experiential learning environment. It can take time for kids (and teachers and volunteers) to adjust.
  • -The JA curriculum is delivered within the design of the immersive experience. Volunteers ensure that each student has a great learning experience along the way.

Sample Agenda

-8:30 a.m.         Volunteer welcome & hands-on training
-9:30 a.m.         Student arrival at JA BizTown
-9:45 a.m.         Business start-up
-10:30 a.m.       Opening town meeting
-10:45 a.m.       Staff meetings
-11:00 a.m.       Lunch break rotations
-12:30 p.m.       Staff meetings
-12:45 p.m.       Shopping break rotations
-1:15 p.m.         Business clean-up
-1:30 p.m.         Closing town meeting
-1:45 p.m.         Student dismissal/Volunteer debrief

Sponsor JA BizTown

Your company can make JA BizTown even better for schools in your community. To sponsor a school’s trip or have a branded company shop at our facility, contact Kaitlin Bowman at 410-753-3293 or kbowman@jamaryland.org.