Education in Action: A City Built For and Run By Kids

Experiential learning is the focus of Exchange City where students come to get a taste of the real world as they work alongside their classmates to run a simulated economy. This immersive experiential learning program connects classroom lessons on civics, entrepreneurship and finance with real life experiences. Over 14,000 Middle school students throughout Rhode Island have been participating in this classroom based program and on-site simulation since Education in Action was formed in 2008.

Schools participating in the Exchange City program integrate the program’s standards based curriculum into their daily lesson plans and the lessons are reinforced by allowing the students to assume real life roles during a one day visit to our state-of-the-art city. Before their arrival, students must create resumes, apply for jobs, prepare budgets and write laws. Inside of Exchange City student citizens apply for a business start-up loan, and then spend the rest of the simulation creating and selling products and services that will generate enough revenue to repay their loans.

By participating in this real-life simulation, students are improving their professional skill set as they are required to work together, give presentations and solve typical issues that arise in a professional environment.

An additional aspect of realism is given to the program though Education in Action’s many community partners. Each one of EIA’s partners has branded a shop inside of Exchange City where students work in a job that mirrors an actual position in that company. For example, students work as bank tellers in the Exchange City RI Credit Union branch or as toy designers in the Hasbro Global Toy Shop. Other community partners include Verizon, United Way, National Grid, United Health Care and Trusted Choice Insurance.

“Exchange City is one of the most effective ways to teach financial literacy to students at a young age as well as improve workforce development within the community,” states Edwin Pacheco, Executive Director of Education in Action. “Project based learning programs such as Exchange City are a successful approach to instruction because they engage the students interest and help them to make connections between what is learned in the classroom and the outside world.”

Education in Action’s mission is to provide hands-on learning experiences that educate and inspire youth for real world success. EIA is funded by local companies and other organizations that are committed to educating the Rhode Island community. Through their support, they can directly help to educate students in the basics of economic principles and build their understanding about the free enterprise system. Ultimately, their investment will help those students to become better prepared as business leaders, employees, entrepreneurs, produce producers and consumers.

To learn more about how you can get involved with Exchange City, RI please call (401) 461-4224 or visit our website at



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