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In 1992, after a summer of record youth violence in Denver, eight young people joined forces with a community leader to create a solution—YouthBiz. Their goal was to advance the social and economic prosperity of youth through the study and practice of entrepreneurship.
Since that summer, YouthBiz has changed the trajectory of over 5,000 youth lives in Denver, particularly in the Five Points neighborhood. Program participants learn resiliency, leadership and self-worth while developing a business. After completing the program, 13-year-old Greta wrote, “YouthBiz taught me how important it was to be my own spokesperson, and be bold and be the person that is willing to stand up and speak.” Renicia, a 7th grader remarked, “All of these lessons will help me in the future, because If I conduct myself in an appropriate fashion…people will see me as professional and sophisticated.” In total, YouthBiz students have made more than $1.5 million in earnings, and they have learned skills that help them in both school and life.
Inspired by these results, Young Americans Center for Financial Education merged with YouthBiz in 2015 to expand the impact of this program. Having outgrown its current building in Five Points, YouthBiz has been transitioning from a site-based to a school-based model for the last two years. Local youth-serving organizations have magnified this expansion, bringing YouthBiz into the schools, community centers and neighborhoods where it is needed most. Besides eliminating the transportation barrier between youth and programming, this expansion allows YouthBiz to continue to serve youth in Five Points and to reach even more young people throughout the Denver Metro Area and Colorado.
“Our vision is that over the next year, YouthBiz will become an industry leader in youth entrepreneurship,” says Rich Martinez, President and CEO of Young Americans Center. “The original, incredible mission of YouthBiz will not change, but the impact will.”