Foundations Kick Off Capital Campaign For New Junior Achievement Learning Center

Foundations Kick Off Capital Campaign For New Junior Achievement Learning Center
Pictured, from left, are Stacey McMichael, executive director, Henson Foundation; Steve Farrow, trustee, Henson Foundation Board; Jayme Hayes, president, JAES; Chris Perdue, director of E-Commerce, Perdue Farms; Kim Nechay, executive director, Perdue Foundation; and Jim Perdue, chairman, Perdue Farms. Submitted Photo

SALISBURY – A financial literacy organization is teaming up with two charitable foundations as it prepares to launch an immersive learning facility in Salisbury.

Last Thursday, Junior Achievement of the Eastern Shore announced its partnership with The Franklin P. and Arthur W. Perdue Foundation and The Richard A. Henson Foundation for the creation of the Perdue Henson Junior Achievement Center.

Officials say the two foundations will provide $1.25 million in matching donations toward a $5.5 million capital campaign for the 25-000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility, which will be constructed within the former Kmart shopping center off Route 50.

Junior Achievement of the Eastern Shore also announced receipt of an anonymous $1 million donation, bringing the total of the campaign to $3.5 million.

“This will be a true game-changer for the students on the shore, our community, and for thousands of students in our region who deserve real-world experiences that prepare them for the future,” Junior Achievement’s President and CEO Jayme Hayes in a statement, adding that the learning center will “enhance our ability to impact more youth with experiential programming that fuels the workforce pipeline and ensures that area youth grow into career-ready, financially responsible, and entrepreneurially minded citizens.”

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The Perdue Henson Junior Achievement Center, which is slated to open in the fall of 2023, is an experiential learning facility that will house Junior Achievement’s capstone programs, Biztown and Finance Park, as well as a Career Center. These capstone programs include an in-classroom curriculum that culminates in a real-life simulation to help students learn crucial life skills, while a mock city will provide students the opportunity to build a foundation upon which they can make intelligent financial decisions.

“For the first time in history, two of our greatest supporting foundations on the shore are joining Junior Achievement of the Eastern Shore to build the ultimate experiential learning facility for students to better understand careers, manage money and see life as an adult …,” Hayes said in last week’s press conference. “25,000 square feet of this building behind me will manifest into an experience of what it is like to be an adult, if only for one day. Enough for them to stop and realize how important the decisions they make today can be on their future. We want to give them the power to see all their possibilities.”

Officials noted there are 58 similar facilities across the country, including three currently located in Maryland and one in Northern Delaware. This will be the first facility of its kind on the Eastern Shore.

“At Perdue Farms, we are committed to improving the quality of life in our communities. Junior Achievement of the Eastern Shore is such an asset to our hometown community, and the future of financial education for students in the region is about to get a lot more fun because of the opportunities available through the Perdue Henson Junior Achievement Center,” said Jim Perdue, chairman of Perdue Farms. “It is because of the foresight of Frank Perdue and Mr. Henson that, together through our Foundations, we can carry on their philanthropic legacies with this joint gift to a program that they both helped bring to the Eastern Shore decades ago.”

Greg Olinde, Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Richard A. Henson Foundation, agreed.

“This new Perdue Henson Junior Achievement Center will help to continue to provide hands-on learning experiences to middle and high school students across the Eastern Shore,” he said. “We are incredibly proud of the work of Junior Achievement and the hundreds of volunteers annually, helping to elevate and prepare our youth for exciting futures.”

State Sen. Mary Beth Carozza told community leaders last week the activities that will occur day in and day out at the learning facility will be similar to those experienced at Junior Achievement’s Inspire events. For the last two years, eighth graders from across the Eastern Shore have gathered for a day of career exploration through hands-on activities.

“We are keeping our young talent right here on the shore, where they will have an opportunity through this Junior Achievement center, to live and work, pursuing their dreams here on Maryland’s Eastern Shore,” she said.

The Perdue Henson Junior Achievement Center will serve students from eight of the nine counties on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Accomack County in Virginia. Upon completion, Junior Achievement estimates that more than 10,000 students will visit the facility each year.

It is planned that during the K-12 experience, students will visit the center three different times above and beyond their two to three in-classroom interactions as well.

“The Eastern Shore of Maryland Educational Consortium (ESMEC), made up of nine superintendents on the Eastern Shore are excited to see this amazing project and experiential facility come to fruition,” said Lou Taylor, President of ESMEC and Superintendent of Worcester County Public Schools. “Our long-term partnership with Junior Achievement and making sure our students have a well-rounded education is something we support and look forward to growing.”

Junior Achievement has been serving Delmarva since 1985 teaching students about financial literacy, workforce readiness, and entrepreneurship. To learn more, visit www.easternshoreja.org.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.