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Center to be named the Huizenga Family Junior Achievement Free Enterprise Center

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Photo: J.C. Huizenga

Junior Achievement of the Michigan Great Lakes (JAMGL) is pleased to announce it has received a transformative gift from West Michigan businessman and entrepreneur, J.C. Huizenga, to support the Junior Achievement Free Enterprise Center located in Grand Rapids. This gift establishes the center as the Huizenga Family Junior Achievement Free Enterprise Center, housing three new experiential student learning labs; The Tom Fox Family JA BizTown, the Karl and Susan Hascall JA Finance Park and the Haworth JA Entrepreneurship Incubator.  This is one of the largest individual capital gifts given to a Junior Achievement organization across the country.

The gift aims to strengthen JA’s impact on K-12 grade students across its fifty county footprint, delivering hands-on financial literacy, entrepreneurship and workplace readiness education through this one of a kind facility.  “J.C.’s enthusiasm for the West Michigan business community and his commitment to the free enterprise system will be perpetuated through the countless lives positively impacted by the Huizenga Family Junior Achievement Free Enterprise Center”, said Bill Coderre, JAMGL President and CEO.  “The center will host 20,000+ 5th through 12th grade students each year teaching them business, entrepreneurship, financial literacy and good citizenship.  This is a legacy that J.C. and his family can be proud of, knowing their investment will help individual students and bolster the local economy.”

Huizenga is committed to free enterprise, and its importance to the fundamental liberties that our nation’s founders clearly saw as essential.  He believes that it’s important that future generations learn these lessons well. A better understanding of free enterprise and how a market-based economy works essentially opens a tool box of skills that enable future success for the individual and the community.  His belief in the free market and his passion for entrepreneurship has helped create the Huizenga Group, which operates a number of diverse manufacturing and industrial enterprises, as well as his founding of National Heritage Academies, one of the most successful charter school systems in the nation.  His leadership in these areas makes him and his family a natural partner for this project. “We gave this gift because we believe in what Junior Achievement does,” said J.C. Huizenga.  “Junior Achievement celebrates the free market and helps future generations understand how the free market functions. This new JA Free Enterprise facility is a significant addition that will give them a taste of freedom, freedom to start a business, freedom to work in the vocation of their choice, freedom to pursue their interests and make a living at it.”

The Huizenga Family JA Free Enterprise Center will immerse students in true hands-on learning, taking what JA provides in the classroom to a new level through the three experiential learning labs. 

The Tom Fox Family JA Biz Town: The Tom Fox Family JA BizTown experience starts with twelve classroom learning sessions for 5th-6th graders. During that time, students learn how our economy operates and they interview for jobs. Then they step into their roles as employees, citizens, and consumers during a full-day simulation at the JA Free Enterprise Center.  Through this real-life simulation, the students can explore their career interests, demonstrate personal responsibility, and practice good citizenship.   Karl & Susan Hascall JA Finance Park: The Karl & Susan Hascall JA Finance Park delivers financial independence skills to 8th-12th grade students. Students spend twelve classroom sessions preparing for the experience. Their day at JA Finance Park involves a randomly assigned career and family scenario. Participants create a monthly budget based on their income and family situation. They must choose options for housing, transportation, insurance, utilities, philanthropy and more to keep their budget balanced and complete the day.  Haworth JA Entrepreneurship Incubator:  The JA Free Enterprise Center will also be the home of the new Haworth JA Entrepreneurship Incubator, an afterschool program where business leaders will mentor high school students. Students will develop a business plan and execute it, bringing their ideas to life. They will learn the critical components of running a successful business, including financing, sales, business operations, marketing, customer service and more.

Phase 1 includes major construction and renovation of the 35,000 square foot center and is complete with staff currently working in the facility.  Staff are actively engaged in phase 2 and phase 3 of the project, which is the sponsorship, completion and build-out of JA BizTown® and JA Finance Park.  Students will be able to begin visiting the center in the spring of 2022 and the new learning labs will begin a phased-in operation in the fall of 2022.  

If you would like to learn more about Junior Achievement of the Michigan Great Lakes and how you can be a part of this exciting new chapter, please call Bill Coderre, President and CEO at 616-575-9080 ext. 2222.


About Junior Achievement of the Michigan Great Lakes

Junior Achievement of the Michigan Great Lakes is the nation’s 21st largest JA chapter and an area office of JA USA, the world’s largest organization dedicated to educating students about workforce readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy through experiential, hands-on programs. The organization offers programs to help prepare young people in Mid, West, and North Michigan for the real world by showing them how to generate wealth and effectively manage it, how to create jobs which make their communities more robust, and how to apply entrepreneurial thinking to the workplace. Students put these lessons into action and are empowered to own their economic success. Visit for more information.

About Junior Achievement USA® (JA)

Junior Achievement is the world's largest organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their future, and make smart academic and economic choices. JA programs are delivered by corporate and community volunteers, and provide relevant, hands-on experiences that give students from kindergarten through high school knowledge and skills in financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship. Today, JA reaches 4.6 million students per year in 112 markets across the United States, with an additional 5.6 million students served by operations in 121 other countries worldwide. Visit for more information.

Media Contacts:

Laura Lutterbeck
Junior Achievement of Southwest Michigan/Junior Achievement of the Michigan Great Lakes
(269) 968-9188

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