Building Community and STEM Education with Junior Achievement of Central Indiana


​Investments in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education have been on the rise recently with many schools and educational nonprofit organizations recognizing the benefits to children. Junior Achievement of Central Indiana (JA) is no exception. With the help of a task force comprised of experts from various STEM-related industries, the organization launched an Enhancement Initiative to develop cutting edge, experiential learning opportunities aimed at inspiring more youth to pursue STEM education and careers.

Since 1957, JA has worked with volunteers from the business community to implement financial literacy, entrepreneurship, philanthropy and work readiness programs for approximately 20,000 central Indiana students across eight counties, ranging from preschool to 12th grade. One such educational program, JA BizTown, will receive modifications to increase participants’ exposure to STEM education and careers.

JA BizTown is an experiential learning program for fifth graders with an in-school curriculum that also allows students to operate a variety of real-life businesses in a simulated city for one day. It is also a great platform to show STEM career opportunities. Funds from this $25,000 Impact Fund Grant from the Opus Foundation® will allow JA to support their technology needs to improve and enhance the delivery of their new STEM curriculum. The organization will purchase 30 new computers and 15 printers and supplies. These computers and printers will be placed in the businesses at JA BizTown to provide students with direct access to simulations.

“Our last technology upgrade was almost 15 years ago,” said Lauren Scheldrup, director of development for JA of Central Indiana. “It’s incredibly needed. It also allowed us to open a few doors with other organizations that want to support this initiative thanks to Opus’ interest.”

JA already has plans to expand their STEM initiative and build capacity at BizTown.

Junior Achievement is a wonderful organization that has been very successful educating young students in central Indiana. I am excited that the Opus Foundation was able to support their STEM initiative which focuses on critical skills in today’s world.

The Opus Foundation supports projects and programs that make our communities better places to live, work and raise families through grants to nonprofit organizations in the areas of early childhood education, youth development, workforce development and community revitalization. Read more about the Foundation’s work here.