Fall is in the air! Days are growing shorter, students are back at school, and AmeriTowne On the Road staff members are preparing for a visit to Grand Junction this month, the first trip of the school year. As this fall marks the sixth anniversary of On the Road, we’re taking a look back at what this program has accomplished, all thanks to a dream and an important partner, CoBank.
AmeriTowne On the Road began as a vision to bring the beloved AmeriTowne program to young people across the state. Ever since it began in 1990, this hands-on lesson in free enterprise has been a highlight of elementary school for Denver metro area students. Looking toward the future, the Young Americans Center Board realized that to grow and reach smaller metro schools and rural communities, the model needed to change. Instead of schools coming to Denver, the program needed to travel to them. AmeriTowne On the Road was born.
Sending AmeriTowne “on the road” happened with lots of community support. In addition to recruiting schools and educators, the program needed funding to pay for curriculum, teacher training, student materials, and the physical On the Road shops and Towne Hall. CoBank joined the initiative right away, and Dave Burlage, Chief Executive Officer at CoBank and former Chair of the Young Americans Center for Financial Education Board, presented On the Road student-participants with a $100,000 check officially launching AmeriTowne On the Road. Speaking to fifth graders from Legacy Academy, a K-8 charter school that is part of the Elizabeth School District, Mr. Burlage said, “CoBank has a long history of supporting Young Americans because we believe so strongly in the value of their programs. It is incredibly important for young people like you to have a sound financial education–something that will help you throughout your entire lives.”
Over the next five years, a total of 10,225 students participated in AmeriTowne On the Road in communities such as Pueblo, Greeley, Fort Collins, Durango, Colorado Springs, and Grand Junction, an impact made possible by CoBank. According to Chris O’Reilly, On the Road Senior Towne Director, “CoBank has been here since the start. I was lucky enough to pilot the program in 2014, and it’s been supported by CoBank from that day on. They have been a huge advocate for us in the rural communities we serve.”
CoBank’s commitment to the financial education of today’s young people continues this school year. In addition to providing Send-a-School scholarships for low-income students to attend AmeriTowne, International Towne, and AmeriTowne On the Road, CoBank is the Presenting Sponsor of the 2019 Spotlight on YouthBiz Stars business competition and gala. Rich Martinez, President and CEO of Young Americans Center, summarizes this incredible impact: “Thank you, CoBank! Your commitment to the mission and vision of Young Americans Center, embodied by your significant investment in technology, low-income scholarships, and AmeriTowne On the Road, has helped 10,225 students learn how economies work, how jobs are created, how prices for goods and services are set in the market and how to make wise money decisions.”