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One of the most meaningful aspects of the Young Americans Center for Financial Education is the impact it has on so many youth in Colorado. One of the best known and widest reaching programs is Young AmeriTowne, which exposes students to economic, business, financial and government elements of society. It is a day when students move into a simulated town to apply these concepts.
For many fifth graders, Young AmeriTowne is a highlight of that year and the experience sticks with them for years. One such participant is Rylan Anderson, a freshman at Thomas Jefferson High School in Denver. I sat down with Rylan to learn what memories stick with her today.
When did you do Young AmeriTowne?
My elementary school, Greenwood Elementary, participated in the program in fifth grade. We planned the day ahead of time, applying for jobs and electing officials.
What was it like?
It was definitely fun! We had learned about running businesses and managing money, but the actual day at AmeriTowne let those lessons come to life.
What job did you have?
I was the accountant at the Warehouse Shop.
What lessons did you learn from Young AmeriTowne?
From the actual job, I learned how to track a budget, write checks, and manage a business’ finances. From a bigger perspective, I learned how many parts of society and an economy are tied together.
Do you think the lessons you learned are valuable moving forward?
Yes. The lessons stuck with me several ways. It was valuable for how I plan and manage my personal finances and money. The program also taught me to look around and notice businesses in my community, and think about why they are opening or closing.
Would you recommend the program to others?
I would highly recommend it to schools and students. Learning a responsible relationship with money is an important concept, and isn’t taught traditionally in school. I feel very fortunate that my elementary school participated in this program, and would hope that all students in Colorado could have the chance.
Have you been involved with other programs at the Young American Center?
I had a business at the YouthBiz Marketplace, which sold small handmade notebooks and calendars. It was a lot of planning and work ahead of time, making the merchandise and planning the display. The Marketplace itself was a great time, with a steady stream of shoppers, and the opportunity to learn real-time lessons such as pricing.
With more than 33,000 participants each year, hundreds of thousands of young people across our state share these memories of Young AmeriTowne. I feel fortunate to be among them.