Junior Achievement of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Inc. (JANEPA) is a nonprofit organization that gives young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their future, and make smart academic and economic choices. JANEPA provides in-classroom and experiential economic education to thousands of students from Kindergarten through 12th grade in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Because of his experience as a young entrepreneur, Robert Mericle developed a personal affinity for JANEPA’s mission and has supported the organization for many years. When JANEPA began operations in 1968, the organization offered just one high school program. As JANEPA began to offer additional classes, the small office it rented in Scranton inhibited the organization’s ability to educate more children. In 2006, JANEPA’s Advisory Council determined that a drastic improvement to the existing JANEPA headquarters was needed.
JANEPA’s President contacted Mr. Mericle to outline the need for a new facility. She explained that changing national programs of Junior Achievement Worldwide (“JA”) placed more focus on experiential learning opportunities. Central to this new focus was a life-like model city that was to be built inside each JA facility across the country. JANEPA’s Scranton facility would not accommodate such an experience.
Based on a very limited budget, JANEPA’s Advisory Council located old, former factory space as a potential solution. Mr. Mericle was disappointed when he visited the space. He believed a low budget rehabilitation of a dilapidated, multi-story, former garment mill, tucked away in the middle of a residential neighborhood, would not excite and motivate young students.
Mr. Mericle and the Mericle family were determined to provide a better solution. Mr. Mericle used his expertise and resources to donate the entire planning, design, and construction of a 15,000 square foot world class JANEPA facility on 3.29 acres of land he owned at the entrance to the CenterPoint Commerce & Trade Park West development in Pittston Township.
In 2007, Mericle Construction completed the facility that today houses JANEPA headquarters and JA Biztown and JA Finance Park, the two Capstone programs developed by JA. This facility is unique because it makes JANEPA one of only two JA franchises in the nation able to offer both Capstone programs. The facility can accommodate up to 120 students daily. Local educators are thrilled by the facility because the Capstone programs help school districts meet the Pennsylvania Department of Education Standards requiring students to be educated about personal finance in preparation for independent living.
The Mericle family’s donation exceeded $3.75 million, including the 3.29 acre parcel, the construction of the building, and the interior fit-out of a life-like city with 20 separate “building” spaces. Mr. Mericle donated more than 500 hours of his own time and more than 24,800 hours of his employees’ and subcontractors’ time designing, engineering, managing, and constructing the entire project. The project makes it possible for an estimated 7,000 students per school year from the surrounding 13 counties to experience the Capstone programs.
In recent years, Robert Mericle has funded scholarships for approximately 15,000 Luzerne and Lackawanna County elementary and high school students to attend JA’s Capstone, in-class, and summer camp programs.
Help area students by making a financial or in-kind contribution to JA, or by becoming a JA volunteer.
Contact Mericle's Director of Community Affairs Kathy Coslett to get started.