Tempe-based nonprofit pivots to bring field trips to kids

The pandemic has meant going virtual and taking field trips into the classroom.
Updated: Apr. 17, 2022 at 9:35 PM MST
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TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- It’s empty this Sunday, but the BizTown experience at Junior Achievement of Arizona in Tempe is something students look forward to all year long.

“It’s a life-changing program. And the students often times don’t even realize it. Because the programs are experimental so they are learning by doing. So that learning sticks,” said the president, Katherine Cecala.

A field trip here may be a highlight for some but has been paused for others. “We are going to be serving about 16,000 kids this year,” she said. “But we’ve also had thousands of kids had to cancel because of the school’s inability to pay for the buses and the transportation.”

Cecala says that because of gas prices and inflation, the group is changing how they teach kids. The pandemic has meant going virtual and taking field trips into the classroom. “We have about 8,000 volunteers a year who’ve been going into the classroom and also working here in BizTown. And so, while the virtual experience has been amazing for a lot of those kids, seeing that person and being inspired by them. That was tough during COVID,” she explained.

JA emphasizes in-class programs and expanding virtual programs. But inflation means the costs of the kits they give out will be double and triple the costs next year. “In the classroom, it costs us about 43 dollars a student to serve the kids in the classroom, and that price is going to go up next year because our price for materials is going up so much,” she said.