Junior Achievement of Central Maryland Inc.’s Biz Town area. Photo courtesy of Junior Achievement.
Junior Achievement of Central Maryland Inc.’s Biz Town area. Photo courtesy of Junior Achievement.

A nonprofit organization that teaches workforce development, entrepreneurship and financial literacy skills to K-12 students is planning to move its headquarters to the Lansdowne area in summer 2020.

With 109 locations across the nation, Junior Achievement is moving its local headquarters, Junior Achievement of Central Maryland Inc., from Owings Mills to Lansdowne.

The new headquarters will be located at 1725 Twin Springs Road and will cover 28,800 square feet of space, more than doubling the organization’s current space on Red Run Boulevard, according to a statement.

Jennifer Bodensiek, President & CEO of Junior Achievement of Central Maryland, called the plans for the new headquarters a “game-changer” for the organization, the community and the students that the nonprofit serves.

“The JA Youth Workforce and Innovation Center will allow us to enhance our visibility and impact more youth with experiential programming that fuels the workforce pipeline and ensures that area youth grow into career-ready, financially responsible, and entrepreneurially minded citizens,” Bodensiek said.

JA served more than 13,000 Baltimore City Public Schools students and more than 8,000 Baltimore County Public Schools students last school year. The new center will expand JA’s reach to more students in both school systems as it plans to serve 30,000 students annually, the statement said.

City Schools CEO Sonja Santelises said JA programs last year reached more than 92 percent of 5th grade students, 82 percent of schools and a total of more than 13,000 city students.

The non-profit’s JA Inspire program connected more than 8,000 Baltimore County 8th graders to more than 60 area employers, the statement said.

In addition to students, the new facility will serve more than 5,000 volunteers and community members annually, the statement said.

The new headquarters, to be known as the JA Youth Workforce and Innovation Center, will continue to offer interactive learning experiences in early workforce development, entrepreneurship and financial literacy for children and teenagers.

The organization currently offers programs such as JA BizTown, which allows 4th through 6th grade students to run their own town for a day as business owners and elected officials, and JA Finance Park, in which middle school students learn about budgeting and make decisions as economic consumers.

Tom Sadowski, Vice Chancellor of Economic Development for the University System of Maryland and Chair of Junior Achievement of Central Maryland’s board of directors, said JA serves up to 300 students on any given day and the nonprofit provides real-world learning opportunities.

“I’ve observed JA programs first-hand, and I’ve seen the lightbulb go off–the inspiration in the students’ eyes when all of a sudden, it clicks. They understand the potential for their future,” Sadowski said.

Today’s announcement said the headquarters will feature a new career center, which will allow middle and high school students to explore Maryland’s in-demand careers and practice running their own business in an entrepreneurship cafe.

The organization plans to spend $2.8 million on the initial capital project for the new headquarters, which is being raised through a combination of corporate donations, state funding sources and foundation support, the statement said.

Merritt Construction Services started work on the base building in November and plans to start the interior build-out in mid-March. Merritt Properties owns and operates the organization’s current headquarters, and the new headquarters will be part of Merritt Properties’ Beltway Business Park. Clockwork Architecture + Design will be doing the architectural work for the project.

Maryland House Speaker Adrienne Jones highlighted JA’s efforts to equip more students with the skills they will need after graduation.

“Junior Achievement’s new regional center in Lansdowne represents a major step in our work to ensure that every student in Maryland is college and career ready,” Jones said.

The organization said students who participated in JA programs are 30 percent more likely to graduate from college than students in the general population and 67 percent more likely to earn an advanced degree. JA students also earn 20 percent more in salary than their peers who did not participate in the programs.

Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz said participation in JA programs will not only help individual students but also the state as a whole.

“Through this center, our region’s youth will gain the financial education and workforce readiness skills they need to thrive,” she said. “It is an investment not only in our students, but an investment in the future success and competitiveness of our state.”

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Marcus Dieterle

Marcus Dieterle is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. He returned to Baltimore in 2020 after working as the deputy editor of the Cecil Whig newspaper in Elkton, Md. He can be reached at marcus@baltimorefishbowl.com...