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Lanesville couple invests $1 million in students

Junior Achievement of Kentuckiana Inc. recently announced it had received a $1-million donation and was renaming the JA Free Enterprise Center after the donor, a Lanesville, Floyd County, couple.
JA unveiled the new name ‘ the James W. Robinson Junior Achievement Center for Freedom of Enterprise ‘ during a press conference at the JA building, located at 1401 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd., attended by James and Phyllis Robinson of rural Lanesville.
James Robinson said the couple decided to give JA of Kentuckiana its largest donation because they believe in JA’s goals of teaching young people the importance of work.
Robinson, co-founder of Robinson-Nugent, where he retired as chairman/CFO in 1987, said the JA facility, which opened in 2004 and includes two mini-cities ‘ the Sam Swope Exchange City and the recently-opened J.P. Morgan Chase Finance Park next door, is a wonderful tool in teaching young people how America’s economy works.
‘Ultimately, work pays for everything humans need and/or want,’ he said.
Robinson, a lifetime member of the JA of Kentuckiana Board of Directors, pointed to JA’s long history, having been founded nationally in 1919, with the local chapter organizing in 1949, in explaining his and his wife’s desire to help financially.
‘We’ve given more to Junior Achievement, because we believe that it best educates our youngsters about work and what it takes to create employment for others,’ he said. ‘The system, mixed as it is, is called capitalism.’
Ed Glasscock, JA’s capital campaign honorary chairman, in introducing Robinson, said the $1 million moves JA’s Teaching Kids How America Works campaign to $6.2 million, just shy of its $6.5-million goal.
JA of Kentuckiana President Debra Hoffer, following the press conference, said the last $2 million from the fund-raising campaign, which started in 2002, will be set aside in an endowment to permanently fund the program.
It costs about $60 for each student to go through the JA program, open to students in grades 3, 5 and 8, as well as high school, Hoffer said.
Following a 30-hour classroom curriculum, students venture to the JA building, where they put in practice what they have studied. Younger students spend a day at the Sam Swope Exchange City, which features different businesses, including a newspaper, television station and package delivery system, while older students go through the J.P. Morgan Finance Park to learn the difference between debit and credit, discover concepts of personal budgeting, and experience stock market investing.
Hoffer said the Robinsons’ donation will help ensure the programs continue for the thousands of students who visit the mini-cities each year, including many from Southern Indiana.
‘This is just going to mean a lot for Southern Indiana kids,’ she said.