By Kevin Bartley, Mechanical and Service Division Manager and Clifton Printy, Superintendent with Nexus 5 Group
“What? I do not have enough money to pay the hospital,” explained an exasperated young middle schooler. He had just received a chit that said he had a broken arm. His CFO leaned in, “You should’a got insurance,” she said, matter of factly.
Using our skills and time to benefit others is one of the most satisfying experiences we can have. This is a value deeply embedded in us at Nexus 5 Group.
Thirty-nine volunteers, thirteen from Nexus 5 Group, embarked on a journey to help students make a connection between what they learn in a classroom and the “Real World” as Junior Achievement Biz Town Citizens.
“You have to pay, or we will have to shut you down,” said a curly haired young lady, from city hall. She was speaking to our frustrated CFO. “But my boss is at lunch,” she replied looking nervously at the spread sheet on her tablet. She leaned into Ali from Nexus 5 Group and said, “I do not know what to do. I have to pay back the business loan.” Awestruck, I watched her show one of the Nexus 5 Group Project Coordinators her financials. Ali advises her that it was her job to make the decision. She was in control.
What is JA BizTown?
JA BizTown is a nonprofit organization providing hands-on programs that teach students about work readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy. It offers a unique, interactive environment where students, primarily from grades 4-6, can understand the economics of life, inspiring them to dream big about their futures.
As builders and creators, the Nexus 5 Group team found this to be a cause closely tied to our hearts. We wanted to contribute to shaping these young minds, instilling in them the values of hard work, dedication, and financial independence.
What Happens at JA BizTown?
The day began with a brief orientation, and then the JA staff assigned us to our various storefronts – simulated real-world businesses, where the kids would be 'working' for the day. The Nexus 5 Group team found themselves running banks, retail stores, utilities, and even a city hall.
Our role was not just to supervise but to mentor, guide, and inspire these young 'employees.' We helped them understand their job roles, manage their salaries, expenses, and even pay taxes. We experienced the joy of seeing lightbulb moments on their faces as they successfully completed transactions, solved problems, and made decisions independently.
Throughout the day, we answered their questions, listened to their innovative ideas, and even found ourselves learning from their fresh perspectives.
Seeing the town come alive with the hustle and bustle of a regular working day was immensely rewarding. We saw children transforming into confident business owners, thoughtful consumers, and responsible citizens.
The most endearing part of our experience was the infectious energy and enthusiasm of the children. Their excitement, determination, and tireless spirit were incredibly inspiring. It made the day not just meaningful, but also a lot of fun. The light-hearted banter, the occasional goof-ups followed by laughter, and the team spirit on display were heartening to see and participate in.
Our day at JA BizTown reminded us of the importance of nurturing the next generation, not just in the skills of trade and business but also in the values of responsibility, integrity, and teamwork. It underscored the significance of practical, hands-on learning and teaching by sparking curiosity and building confidence in young minds.
Suddenly, the cyclone stopped. Students sanitized tablets, put tools away, and cleaned up their spaces. Children and spaces safely squared away left time to reflect on what we were doing.
It is not the structures we build that define us at Nexus 5 Group, but the communities we help foster. Our day at JA BizTown stands as a testament to this commitment, and we look forward to engaging in many such enriching experiences in the future.