This immersive simulation teaches teens about real‑world money.

According to a 2022 Ipsos poll, 43% of American adults are “financially illiterate” and 51% of American borrowers did not estimate what their payments would be before getting a student loan. A growing partnership between Junior Achievement-Rocky Mountain and Nelnet is working to change that.

Junior Achievement was founded in 1919 to help prepare young people to succeed in a global economy focused on entrepreneurship, financial literacy, and work readiness. Junior Achievement Rocky Mountain opened its brand new Free Enterprise Center – launching its second JA Finance Park in April 2023.

This immersive experience teaches teens about personal finance in a real-world, engaging way. In JA Finance Park, students explore a mini city and participate in financial simulations ranging from budgeting and housing to insurance, transportation, retirement investing, education finance, and more.

This approach has been celebrated by Harvard University’s Global Education Innovation Initiative as a best practice for teaching financial literacy today.

As part of this effort, Nelnet recently made a three-year commitment to host a “storefront” in each of the two Rocky Mountain Finance Park locations (Thornton, Colorado and Centennial, Colorado). Supporting both Finance Parks requires approximately 4,500 volunteers annually.

For the 2022–2023 school year, JA Finance Park helped 11,796 students – and is projected to support more than 24,000 students for the 2023-2024 school year.

We are incredibly grateful for the support we receive from Nelnet and its employees. We are grateful for the boundless possibility they create for local students. From helping younger students practice personal budgeting to introducing high school students to investments, credit, and more – Nelnet’s dedication is inspiring.

Robin Wise

President and CEO, JA-Rocky Mountain

In JA Finance Park, if a student’s simulation sends them on a path to college, they’ll visit Nelnet’s experience to learn about student loans, and how the financial obligation of student loan debt will impact the career portion of their journey. As part of the partnership, Nelnet provides the educational content for this part of the simulation, and Nelnet associate volunteers who work the store share their real-world perspective and experiences when it comes to student loans.

Nelnet has supported Junior Achievement-Rocky Mountain for decades and we are thrilled to be able to participate in JA Finance Park and educate more future leaders. Financial literacy is a critical skill for young people to develop early so they can make good decisions about their future. As a bonus, interacting with the students at JA Finance Park is incredibly rewarding and fun. I encourage all our associates to consider volunteering.

Bill Munn

Secretary and General Counsel, Nelnet

In addition to Finance Park, Junior Achievement-Rocky Mountain is also launching The Daniels Fund JA Dream Accelerator. This interactive experience allows students to explore career options and gain new insights about professional paths for their future. Students can learn about their strengths and interests, and get inspired by advice from emerging entrepreneurs.

As part of the JA Daniels Fund Dream Accelerator effort, Nelnet supplied job descriptions and salary information for five career paths including people services, cyber security, operations, financial analysis, and technology.

JA Finance Park and Dream Accelerator are two new innovative ways that Junior Achievement-Rocky Mountain is preparing Colorado teens for a brighter future. While the organization reached 71,803 students in 418 schools last year, the power and impact of these programs is immeasurable.


Jeff Deans

Copy Director

Jeff Deans is a Copy Director. With decades of creative experience behind his work, he concepts ideas and crafts language for a wide range of projects and businesses across Nelnet. Away from the keyboard, Jeff turns his creative focus to smoking meats, obsessing over fantasy football, and getting lost in TikTok.