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Junior Achievement Youth Learning Lab: Bringing KC Kids Crucial Real-World Learning in 2021


KANSAS CITY, KS (Dec. 1, 2020) – Good for our kids, good for our city. Junior Achievement of Greater Kansas City has announced a new hands-on initiative that connects local students with mentors and curriculum to show them what’s personally possible, thus modeling what it means to have a positive impact on our local society. Launching in 2021, the JAKC Youth Learning Lab presented by the Mallouk Family Foundation is the next step in bringing innovative, experiential learning to students in the metro area. 

“Education is a catalyst for opportunity and economic empowerment. When our kids are successful, our city is successful,” CEO & President Megan Sturges Stanfield told attendees at the 20th anniversary Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame event. “I am proud to announce that the JAKC Youth Learning Lab will be arriving on the Kansas City skyline, serving as a youth incubator curating the next generation of JA Business Hall of Fame Laureates!” 

Occupying 22,000 square feet in Kansas City, Kansas, the Youth Learning Lab will give kids room to think up big ideas, explore careers they have only dreamed of, and practice crucial life-skills outside of the classroom. Centrally located in the Northwood Shopping Center near 47th Avenue and Mission Road, the new space will also house the Junior Achievement of Greater Kansas City offices. 

“We all know that the path to success starts when we are young – with the foundation laid by parents, teachers and the community,” said Peter Mallouk, President, Creative Planning, Inc. “But there is no learning as powerful as experiential learning. We jumped at the opportunity to help JA build out this ambitious program.” 

The Youth Learning Lab includes three learning venues for JA kids: The JA Innovation Center will offer activities that foster an entrepreneurial mindset in students. The JA Career Center will be a hub for middle school kids to examine how they can leverage their interests and skills in future careers and begin to answer the question – Who can I become? JA BizTown presented by CommunityAmerica Credit Union, is the signature program of the Youth Learning Lab. 

JA BizTown will transform 14,000 sq.ft. into a simulated Kansas City with storefronts from homegrown companies like CommunityAmerica Credit Union, Children’s Mercy Hospital, Price Chopper, JE Dunn, Evergy, KC PBS, Creative Planning, and Hallmark, with space still remaining for eight more local businesses. JA BizTown, inspired by the former Exchange City program, is a capstone experience culminating a series of classroom lessons connecting academics with real life. Young people learn how to manage adult responsibilities like going to work, paying taxes, civic engagement, balancing a budget, and many other real-world skills that will stay with them long after they leave for the day. Along the way, JA kids will be guided by volunteers who model success, determination, and teamwork and who bring those qualities to enhance curriculum carefully designed in concert with JA BizTown storefront sponsors. 

“CommunityAmerica Credit Union is honored to be the presenting sponsor of Junior Achievement’s BizTown and help bring this exciting, experiential learning opportunity to life for our region’s youth,” said Lisa Ginter, CEO, CommunityAmerica Credit Union. “Our mission is to provide financial peace of mind to our members across Kansas City, and we can only be successful at that by also teaching the next generation smart money habits early on.”

The space also holds the new permanent home for the JA Business Hall of Fame and will inspire the journeys of future Hall of Fame laureates just taking their first steps towards defining their paths. As JA students walk the hall, they will be inspired by the stories of success from our JA Business Hall of Fame Laureates and will imagine a future that includes their faces among Kansas City’s biggest changemakers. 

The project is coming to fruition after years of collaboration between the JAKC board of directors, staff, and many community champions including CommunityAmerica Credit Union, The Mallouk Family Foundation, The Sunderland Foundation, The Hall Family Foundation, and financing partners Wells Fargo and Central Bank of KC. The planning team identified crucial areas of opportunity in preparing JA kids for their futures. They realized that the community needed an immersive learning experience for students across the educational spectrum. To achieve a quality, comprehensive experience, the team sought to highlight the organizational and individual diversity that allows Kansas City to thrive both culturally and economically. The team dreamed of creating an opportunity for young minds to think critically and strategically, and hopes to curate engaged citizens who will choose to live, work, and play in Kansas City when they grow up. 

The JAKC Youth Learning Lab will begin hosting empowering mentor-driven student programs in 2021. The campaign is in full swing with just under $1.5 million dollars left to raise before JA kids walk through Youth Learning Lab doors next year. There are many opportunities to make a mark on the campaign. Individual donations, company sponsorship, and contributions of in-kind services are all welcomed. Visit the JAKC website at or reach out to Megan Sturges Stanfield, JAKC President & CEO, to learn more about this exciting project and how you can get involved. 

JAKC Youth Learning Lab Takeaways:

  • Where: 2842 W. 47th Avenue, Kansas City, KS 66103
  • What: A 22,000 sq. ft. real world incubator for KC kids featuring three immersive learning programs.
  • Who: Project partners include Creative Planning, CommunityAmerica Credit Union, Children’s Mercy Hospital, Hallmark, Evergy, Kansas City PBS, JE Dunn Construction, Price Chopper, and others.
  • How: The capital campaign has just under $1.5 million left to raise before opening doors in 2021.
  • Next Steps: Tours of the new space available upon request. Contact Erika O’Shea to set up an interview with Megan Sturges Stanfield, JAKC President & CEO.

About Junior Achievement of Greater Kansas City

Junior Achievement of Greater Kansas City brings business back to the classroom by connecting students to mentors and programs which promote financial literacy, inspire entrepreneurship, and prepare students (K-12) for success in a 21st century workplace. By providing classrooms with business and community volunteers in a hands-on learning environment, we equip Kansas City’s next generation with the skills they need for a prosperous future.

Connect with us!

Facebook – @JAKansasCity  |  Instagram – @JAofGKC  |  LinkedIn – Junior Achievement of Greater Kansas City

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