The "Junior Achievement Finance Park" in Detroit, Michigan, is an experimental shopping complex with shops for day-to-day needs, a bank branch and much more – all of them stage props. Junior Achievement, a non-profit organization, educates young people on basic commercial and financial topics.
Mercedes-Benz Financial Services USA (MBFS) has been active as partner of the organization for many years. After all, successful money management is the core expertise of Daimler's financial services subsidiary. The idea is for young people to learn how to use their money wisely with the help of MBFS staff.
As in a role play, each student is given a fictitious profile of his/her job, income and family size before going to the shopping complex:
The students are accompanied by eleven MBFS employees who advise them on spending their money and for entering into loan or insurance agreements.
"It's fun to watch how the kids use what they have learned in the classroom here in 'real' life," said Leigh Schultenover, Senior Manager Business Development. "They quickly understand that every major investment requires careful consideration and that money must be well managed."
The major impetus for this involvement came from studies showing that more and more young people are living above their means. Young people nowadays live in an enticing consumer environment and simultaneously suppress thoughts of planning ahead for difficult financial times or for retirement age.
"Teacher for a day" is another initiative of Junior Achievement, in which MBFS employees are actively involved. Even junior school kids are given a basic understanding of how to handle money – as a form of play. Recently, 38 MBFS colleagues from Fort Worth spent a day in a Texas school, where they spoke with the first-graders about managing their needs – in line with the motto:
Should I buy the chocolate if it means not having enough money for my milk? Proudly holding their attendance certificate after the event, the kids are well equipped for their later lives as savers and consumers.
More information about the worldwide activities of Junior Achievement is provided at www.ja.org