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This summer, 200 fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh-graders are going to college by participating in the College for Kids program. Held at three Aims Community College campuses in Greeley, Loveland, and Fort Lupton, College For Kids provides hands-on educational experiences in sports, art, STEM, and even entrepreneurship through YouthBiz.
The first week of camp occurred at the Greeley campus where 12 students spent their morning creating a business idea as part of the YouthBiz StartUp program. Campers choose their sessions from a list of more than twenty options, picking a class for the morning and a separate class for the afternoon. Ten-year-old Royce, who just completed 5th grade, signed up for YouthBiz because he already had an interest in business. Plus, the $100 cash prize, awarded to the best business, was a draw, too. “I think we might win,” said participant Troy, who sat a few rows away and happened to be celebrating his 13th birthday. “But there’s some big competition.”
Participants come to College for Kids from throughout the northern Colorado area. The $75 registration fee covers four days of instruction, snacks, and lunch for each participant, and scholarships are available for any family that demonstrates need. For Dean Rob Abernathy, who oversees Public Services & Transportation and the College for Kids summer camp at Aims Community College, the program allows the school to reach other age groups of young people besides young adults. “This is an opportunity for kids to think about college,” said Rob after serving as a judge for the YouthBiz morning pitch competition. “College is something that’s within their reach.”
Troy’s observation about the YouthBiz competition was accurate. Elijah (12) and Drew (9) teamed up to create Sensitive Pop, a popsicle that even people with sensitive teeth could enjoy. Judge Susan McKenzie of The Success Foundation, which serves Greeley-Evans Schools, commended their creativity in solving a problem she faces. Sophia (11), Afton (11), and Bridget (10) designed a shoe that tracked miles walked, miles biked, or even miles swam called The Easy Walker. For judge Matt Bliss, an entrepreneur and creator of Modern Christmas Trees who has appeared on the show “Shark Tank,” the trio’s presentation exuded confidence and energy.
In total, six different businesses pitched their ideas at the culmination of YouthBiz StartUp and all impressed the five-member judging panel. But it was Royce who ended up winning with a business called Awes, a phone and tablet stand “guaranteed to be 100 percent awesome.”
In just four days, students gained more than just a lesson in business through YouthBiz at College for Kids. They made new friends, they developed confidence, and they pictured a future for themselves that involves higher education.