Junior Achievement of GA Breaks Ground On New JA Colonial Group Discovery Center of Savannah

L-R: Jamie McCurry, Christian Demere, John Hancock, Kyle Marrero
L-R: Jamie McCurry, Christian Demere, John Hancock, Kyle Marrero

Junior Achievement (JA) of Georgia ceremoniously broke ground on the new JA Colonial Group Discovery Center of Savannah on Friday, February 19. The event signified the start of the renovation and retrofitting of 25,000 square feet of space on Georgia Southern University’s Armstrong campus. Together with presenting partners Colonial Oil, Inc. and Georgia Southern University, JA welcomed supporters and partners for a look at the existing space and how it will evolve in the coming months to begin serving students this fall.

“It’s this space that’s going to transform the lives of 15,000 mid- dle school students a year throughout the whole coastal region,” said Camille Russo, Vice President, Marketing, JA of Georgia. “It’s going to transform them by exposing and immersing them in financial literacy, entrepreneurship and career readiness, and by allowing them to really experience what their future could look like.”

JA Discovery Centers blend key components of education to create state-of-the-art learning facilities where students apply concepts they learn in the classroom in a 360-degree authentic and experiential experience. Upon arrival students become a part of a simulated version of their hometown within the JA BizTown® and JA Finance Park® programs. Then students work alongside their peers and adult volunteers as they develop a greater understanding of financial concepts, build 21st century skills, and foster their entrepreneurial spirit.

“There is tremendous alignment between the missions of our organizations,” said Dr. Kyle Marrero, President, Georgia Southern University. “This gives us the opportunity to work every day for the betterment of our own organizations, but also to develop the next generation of leaders who will shape our communities, inspire innovation, create solutions and impact countless others.”

The facility will have representation from various local and national businesses –Georgia United Credit Union, Publix, South State Bank, Thomas & Hutton, and United Way of the Coastal Empire have committed to date – that will provide students a glimpse into possible career paths, as well as an opportunity to be an employee of the business for the day.

“We’ve been avid supporters of JA’s mission over the years, due in large part to the alignment of our missions,” said Christian Demere, CEO, Colonial Group, Inc. “I think the businesses in Savannah are beneficiaries of their work with our students because these are the people that will become the employees, leaders and contributors in our community. We are very excited for this opportunity to further that mission and strengthen the foundation JA is cultivating in our youth.”

Currently JA Discovery Centers serve more than 88,000 students a year across three locations – the JA Chickfil A Foundation Discovery Center in Atlanta, the JA Discovery Center at Gwinnett and the Mike and Lynn Cottrell JA Discovery Center at North Georgia in Cumming. The fourth facility, in Dalton, is under construction and will open in 2021, bringing the total impact to more than a third of middle school students in Georgia.

To find out more about getting involved, please contact Camille Russo at crusso@georgia.ja.org or 912- 344-5440.

To learn more about JA of Georgia, visit their website.

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