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Junior Achievement 'excited to be in Old Colorado City'

       Junior Achievement of Southern Colorado (JA) officially moved this month into the former Goodwill building at 2320 W. Colorado Ave.
       “We're excited to be in Old Colorado City,” said David Loose, JA president and CEO. He added that this summer he plans to schedule a neighborhood open house, in conjunction with the 60-year anniversary of the nonprofit organization that teaches financial principles to young people.
       The relocation represents a major increase in space for JA's eight-person staff (three full-time, five-part-time). Since 2007, the office had been in an old Victorian on 9,500 square feet of land at 419 W. Bijou St., (which JA recently sold). After buying most of the Goodwill holdings on the north side of the avenue's 2300 block (including the main building, the parking lot behind it and the two historical buildings just west of it), the entity now owns just over 48,000 square feet there.

Standing by the entrance doors recently painted with their nonprofit organization's name, Junior Achievement of Southern Colorado staffers are from left (back), Scott McGinnis, David Loose and Nancy Brown; (front) Angela Terrazas, Darcie Larsen and Sue McClernan. Not present for the photo: Penny Immel.
Westside Pioneer photo
       For the time being, JA will use only the office space and meeting room at the west end of the main building, Loose said. The east end (primarily a large, warehouse-type area) is being kept in reserve until the organization completes a fundraising campaign that will allow that space to be transformed into realistic business “towns” where students can get hands-on business experiences.
       Students' informational needs can be seen in statistics in a JA brochure. As examples, the brochure states, 60 percent of American teens “don't know the difference between cash, credit cards and checks,” and in a national financial literacy survey of 12th grade students, “62 percent failed.”
       Loose said the $3.9 million campaign has reached the halfway mark, with hopes of attainment within a year and a half.
       In the meantime, people wanting to visit JA can park in the lot behind the facility (accessible from the 2300 block of Pikes Peak Avenue) and walk to Colorado Avenue through an easement/pathway between the two older houses. At the entrance door that says “2320,” a digital key pad has been installed. The pad includes a button with a bell symbol on it. “Please ring the bell on the key pad to contact a staff member who will remotely unlock the door and then meet you in the lobby,” Loose asked.
       The office phone is 636-2474, x1021. The website is southerncolorado.ja.org .
       The houses, also owned by JA, are currently under contract to the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) business group, with a closing tentatively scheduled in early May. See separate article.
       Loose pointed out that it's unusual for a nonprofit to make such a significant outlay (buying the Goodwill property) in the midst of a capital campaign. But he said the location, size and condition of the buildings were too good to pass up, and the cost could be worked into the JA budget. A bonus benefit is the bus parking zone in front -- a carryover from the Goodwill days -- and Loose expects that once its “BizTown” (a realistic town-style layout geared for fifth-graders) and “Finance Park” (for eighth- graders) are operational, JA will need that parking too.
       Working with schools in 46 Southern Colorado counties, JA provides free materials and training. “Fifth-grade students run financial institutions, manage restaurants, promote their businesses on social networks, produce TV commercials, write checks, and vote as they experience a real-life marketplace," the brochure states. "Eighth-grade students make financial decisions to balance a budget based upon a real-life scenario involving a job, salary, and family situations including food, clothing, housing, taxes, savings, insurance, transportation, etc.”
       Other offices are in Pueblo, Glenwood Springs and Grand Junction.
       A 53-member board of directors helps guide agency efforts, recruiting more than 1,400 volunteer business people who present the programs to the students.
       The annual budget is just under $1 million, with funds provided through donations from businesses, foundations and individuals, Loose said.
       Also in Colorado Springs is the headquarters of Junior Achievement USA, which has 100 employees and focuses on creating and evaluating all JA programs across the nation.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 4/8/14; Business: New)

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