, Port Arthur, Texas

February 26, 2013

JA to hold Finance Park

Erinn Callahan
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — Capital One Junior Achievement Finance Park will come to Lamar State College-Port Arthur, 1500 Procter Street, for the third year in a row. The park will be held March 4-7, from 8:15 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Carl Parker Center.

Based in Houston, Finance Park is designed to teach eighth to 12th grade students financial literacy, said executive director Cindy Westfall.

“They live a month in the life of an adult,” Westfall said. “When they arrive, they’re given one of 10 repeating scenarios and then grouped. Students are either married or single, have kids or don’t — they may be married with two kids and have to live on $25,000 a year, or they may be a single parent and live on $85,000 a year."

There will be 19 different kiosks available for students to budget their income, Westfall said.

“We teach them to take away the taxes — the part that nobody tells you about — and figure out how much money they have to live on,” she said. "And that’s their net monthly income. Once they have that, they are tasked with everything we have to do — appropriate-sized housing and utility bills calculated based on square size of housing. They receive a debit card, and everything is programmed based on the debit card number. Kids who are having to live on $25,000 do not get the same options as the kid living on $75,000, because we know that’s really not practical.”

Westfall said that students will not be permitted to leave until their income is balanced accordingly to the size of their “families.”

“At the end of month they either come out in the positive or the negative,” she said. “We don’t let them leave if they’re in the negative. And if there’s four in the family, they can’t choose clothing for just one person. If they go to the movies, all four have to go. One cannot go by themselves.”

Westfall hopes the program will have the same amount of success it has had in the past, she said.

“The most common thing we get is, ‘Wow, I didn’t know how expensive life was going to be. I’m going to have to get a better job,’ or ‘Wow, I didn’t know what my parents went through,’” she said. “Our effort is just to point out that, whether it’s skills training or a college degree, students need to consider pursuing some sort of continuing education. We’re hoping that might solidify their understanding of why they need to finish high school.”

Volunteers are needed on a daily basis. To volunteer, call 833-3860, or email


Twitter: @ErinnPA