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Fisher Sponsors Region’s First Junior Achievement “Discovery Center” for Area Students

March 4, 2022

On Wednesday, March 2, Junior Achievement of Central Upstate New York (JACUNY) formally announced plans to build a state-of-the-art learning lab that will bring hands-on experiences to thousands of area students, and St. John Fisher College is playing a key part in the initiative as a sponsor.

President Rooney (center) with two Fisher students at the announcement of the Region’s First Junior Achievement “Discovery Center.”

The 18,000 square foot facility, to be named “The Paychex Junior Achievement Discovery Center” in recognition of a naming sponsorship from Paychex, will be located in Kodak Center on West Ridge Road in Rochester. The Paychex Junior Achievement Discovery Center will be an engaging student experience that will focus on developing work readiness skills, career awareness, financial self-sufficiency and entrepreneurial thinking.

“This is an innovative collaboration between public and private sector and educational institutions all with one common goal in mind – supporting the next generation become successful and engaged citizens in our community,” said President Gerard J. Rooney. “We are proud to be a partner in the Center, and look forward to seeing the ways in which members of our own campus community will contribute to enhance this simulation experience for the students who will benefit from it.”

Two cumulative middle and high school programs – JA BizTown® and JA Finance Park® – will be run out of the facility. Both will contain 13 in-classroom lessons, followed by a day-long visit to the Paychex Junior Achievement Discovery Center. There, lessons learned will be put to the real-life test as the student becomes a citizen in a simulated “mini-city” that resembles real businesses and organizations in Rochester. The Center will house at least 16 different employer-sponsored storefronts to ensure economic and workforce relevance to our region.

In JA BizTown®, 5th grade students will “interview” for jobs at the represented employers and perform various business tasks throughout the day. In turn, they will open bank accounts to deposit their Biz Town wages, make personal buying decisions, and even elect a mayor of the simulated city. Middle and high school students attending JA Finance Park® are given an adult life scenario, complete with a job, credit score, housing, family, and financial obligations. Students then must make a series of personal financial decisions from the represented businesses that support the lifestyle they envision.

“At Paychex, we believe in creating a world where people are the most important part of every business. We know that happier, healthier, and engaged teams create better businesses – and strong, local businesses support vibrant communities. With a focus on career development, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship, the Junior Achievement’s Discovery Center fits perfectly with our vision of supporting communities and building a stronger, vibrant Rochester. On behalf of our employees, Paychex is proud to announce our commitment to serve as the naming sponsor of the Paychex Junior Achievement Discovery Center,” said Martin Mucci, Paychex chairman and CEO, and member of Fisher’s Class of 1981.

The Paychex Junior Achievement Discovery Center is to be based on a proven JA model that currently operates in over 30 U.S. cities, impacting more than 400,000 students. It will be the only program of its kind in New York State.

“Both programs offer a powerful experience that gives students an authentic and memorable way to practice being an adult in our economy, and provide the skills and confidence to become self-sufficient future citizens,” noted JACUNY President & CEO Patricia J. Leva. “They also provide youth at a formative age with the opportunity to explore the careers and jobs available in our region and the learn about the skills needed to create their success right here at home.”

The Paychex Junior Achievement Discovery Center is expected to open in fall 2023. JACUNY anticipates serving 6,000 students in the first full year of operation, reaching 12,000 students annually at full capacity.