The Philanthropy Collaborative

Regional Case Studies

Young Americans Center for Financial Education
Denver, Colorado

"Most people still do not have a clue about financing and the importance of credit, so they can't teach their children," says Marilyn Walker. "Young Americans Bank is a resource that can help you and help your child."

Marilyn knows from experience. As a member of the first Youth Advisory Board to the Young Americans Bank in 1987, and as a bank customer early on, she knew the importance of learning to save money. She encouraged her son Tazmihl to open an account, and now Tazmihl is on the Youth Advisory Board.

"Going to the bank became a field trip for Tazmihl," says Marilyn. "Every time we visited, he wanted to know how tall he was in quarters and what else he could do at the bank."

The idea for the Young Americans Bank came from Bill Daniels, the cable pioneer, entrepreneur, and founder of The Daniels Fund. He believed that America had the best financial system in the world, and everyone - young and old - should have access to that system. In 1987 he founded the Young Americans Bank, which remains the only bank in the world for kids 21 and under.

After 25 years, more than 67,000 accounts have been opened, reaching all 50 states and dozens of countries. Every customer is taught about a savings account, but some can opt to learn about and open checking accounts, CDs, debit cards and credit cards.

As word spread about the bank, parents and teachers asked for more, so The Young Americans Center for Financial Education was established. The nonprofit organization offers educational programs for youth that help build life skills, an understanding of the workplace, and financial self-sufficiency. These programs include Young AmeriTowne and International Towne: hands-on lessons in free enterprise and global economics, respectively. Young Americans also offers Get aHead for Business which encourages high school students to be entrepreneurs, and gives them the resources and education to be successful in their businesses.

Natalie Shelden and Jasmine Fox-Suliaman have both participated in the various programs.

"It feels cool to be a kid entrepreneur," says Natalie Shelden, age 10, who owns a successful lemonade stand business. "All your parents are making a lot of money and so when you do that too, it make you feel more like an adult. You feel happy that you're saving up for something that you'd want in the future."

"Most of my business ideas were inspired by the programs at Young Americans," says Jasmine Fox-Suliaman, who owned a fashion design company. "The entrepreneur programs helped me understand how to work a business and manage everything. Now I'm looking into early colleges, and I just launched a fashion blog I'm working on marketing."

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