Junior Achievement of the Eastern Shore recently announced matching $1.25 million donations from The Franklin P. and Arthur W. Perdue Foundation and The Richard A. Henson Foundation that will help create the Perdue Henson Junior Achievement Center, ensuring the financial literacy of students for future generations. The historic partnership marks the first time the two charitable foundations are coming together on a major Eastern Shore initiative that will bear their names.

The announcement also marks the commencement of a $5.5 million capital campaign to fund the new 25,000-square foot, state-of-the-art learning center. Junior Achievement of the Eastern Shore also announced receipt of an anonymous $1 million donation, bringing the total of the campaign to $3.5 million.

Jayme Hayes, President of Junior Achievement of the Eastern Shore, accepts two $1.25 million checks from the Richard A. Henson Foundation and the Franklin P. and Arthur W. Perdue Foundation. Shown (l to r) are: Stacey McMichael, Executive Director of Richard A. Henson Foundation; Steve Farrow, Trustee of Henson Foundation Board; Hayes; Chris Perdue, Director of E-Commerce for Perdue Farms; Kim Nechay, Executive Director of the Franklin P. and Arthur W. Perdue Foundation; and Jim Perdue, Chairman of Perdue Farms.

The Perdue Henson Junior Achievement Center is scheduled to open fall 2023. The facility will open in Oak Ridge Commons in Salisbury in the former K-Mart shopping center off Route 50.

“This will be a true game-changer for the students on the Shore, our community, and for thousands of students in our region who deserve real-world experiences that prepare them for the future,” Junior Achievement of the Eastern Shore President and CEO Jayme Hayes said in a statement, adding that the learning center will “enhance our ability to 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.”

The Perdue Henson Junior Achievement Center is an experiential learning facility that will house Junior Achievement’s capstone programs, Biztown and Finance Park, as well as a Career Center. These capstone programs include an in-classroom curriculum that culminates in an engaging real-life simulation to help students learn crucial life skills. A mock city will provide students the opportunity to build a foundation upon which they can make intelligent financial decisions that last a lifetime.

There are 58 similar facilities across the country, including three currently located in Maryland and one in northern Delaware. This will be the first facility of its kind here on the Eastern Shore.

“At Perdue Farms, we are committed to improving the quality of life in our communities. Junior Achievement of the Eastern Shore is such an asset to our hometown community, and the future of financial education for students in the region is about to get a lot more fun because of the opportunities available through the Perdue Henson Junior Achievement Center,” said Jim Perdue, Chairman of Perdue Farms. “It is because of the foresight of Frank Perdue and Mr. Henson that, together through our Foundations, we can carry on their philanthropic legacies with this joint gift to a program that they both helped bring to the Eastern Shore decades ago.”

“We are proud to continue fulfilling the legacy and mission of Mr. Henson. At the core of our giving philosophy is a primary tenet, educating and building good character in our youth through practical leadership and example. Junior Achievement has excelled at this. In a time where many nonprofits struggled to connect with their constituents, JA pivoted. Their programs went 100 percent virtual, and they served more students than ever before,” said Greg Olinde, Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Richard A. Henson Foundation. “This new Perdue Henson Junior Achievement Center will help to continue to provide hands-on learning experiences to middle and high school students across the Eastern Shore. We are incredibly proud of the work of Junior Achievement and the hundreds of volunteers annually, helping to elevate and prepare our youth for exciting futures.”

Henson advocated heavily with business leaders to bring Junior Achievement to the Eastern Shore in the mid-1980s. He told a group of colleagues, “Our community can afford to support Junior Achievement. We cannot afford to not support the program.”

This facility will serve students from eight of the nine counties on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Accomack County in Virginia. Upon completion, JA estimates that more than 10,000 students will visit the facility each year. It is planned that during the K-12 experience, students will visit the center three different times above and beyond their two to three in-classroom interactions as well. 

“The Eastern Shore of Maryland Educational Consortium (ESMEC), made up of nine superintendents on the Eastern Shore are excited to see this amazing project and experiential facility come to fruition. Our long-term partnership with Junior Achievement and making sure our students have a well-rounded education is something we support and look forward to growing,” said Lou Taylor, President of ESMEC and Superintendent of Worcester County Public Schools.

Junior Achievement has been serving Delmarva since 1985 teaching students about financial literacy, workforce readiness, and entrepreneurship. To learn more about this project, visit www.easternshoreja.org.