Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

February 3, 2014

Biztown brings real-life experiences to students


CROSSVILLE — Volunteers with the Youth Achievement Foundation Inc. recently participated in BizTown, a whole-day, real-life business experience program of Junior Achievement of East Tennessee in Clinton, TN. This experience for fifth- and sixth-graders in the Cumberland County schools is a way of teaching the students what it’s like to run a retail business, a community office like city hall, or a service such as a health center. Through participation in these activities, students are exposed to possible future job opportunities, both in the local community and the world at large. Practical experiences dealing with budgeting and customer service are part of the day’s activities, and enable the students to help set goals.

During the fall of 2013 there were seven Biztown day-long sessions and over 580 fifth- and sixth-grade students participated.

Volunteers at Biztown are in each business to help the students learn, but also allow them to succeed or fail in the business — another part of the Biztown experience. Staff at Biztown are always available and check in with each business frequently, both to help direct but also allow for breaks. Their knowledge of the entire experience helps everyone feel comfortable and allows real learning to take place. All volunteers have said going to Biztown was a truly rewarding experience.

Amanda Elmore, branch manager of US Bank in Crossville, was one of the volunteers and found the experience very rewarding. According to Elmore, “Working with the Biztown organizers was very easy and it helped prepare me to really be able to assist the kids to get the most out of their experience running the business. Biztown gives the kids a first-hand look at the challenges of running a business and community.  I enjoyed the experience and would encourage others to get involved.”

Special thanks to First National Bank, Cumberland County Bank, Regions Bank, Highland Federal and US Bank for supporting their employees to volunteer at Biztown!

Because the Youth Achievement Foundation has experienced such success in the schools over the last year, there is a constant need for additional volunteers to attend Biztown. Obviously, the Biztown experience is an expensive activity, so funding is always being sought in order to allow all the schools to attend. If you and/or your business would be interested in helping support this worthwhile effort, please contact Rich Soenen, Youth Achievement Chair, at 484-6775.