INSPIRED IMPACT is an ongoing blog series that gives voice to purpose-driven organizations and passionate leaders and entrepreneurs who are making an impact in their communities and industries.



 

Richard E. Martinez is the President & CEO of Young Americans Center for Financial Education. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube and learn more at yacenter.org.

 

WHAT DO YOU DO?
Young Americans Center for Financial Education is a unique organization located in Denver, Colorado. We operate both a non-profit 501(c)3 organization and a for-profit entity. While both entities share a common mission, the finances and operations of the two are completely separate. As a pioneer in youth financial education, our signature “hands-on” approach to teaching personal finance, economics, and business was embraced by parents and teachers 20 years before “financial literacy” was defined on a national level, and we remain at the forefront of this growing field.

 

WHY DO YOU DO IT?
Our mission is to develop the financial literacy of young people through real-life experiences and hands-on programs purposefully designed to enable them to prosper in our free enterprise system.

 

WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
Young Americans reaches more than 64,000 young people a year.

 

WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO MAKE THIS IMPACT?
In 1984, Bill Daniels, known as the “father of cable television,” read about a young group of Denver students unable to obtain a bank loan. Bill realized that we, as a society, are doing a disservice to youth by not allowing their participation in our financial system. His answer: a real bank just for young people that would teach financial education.

In August 1987, Young Americans Bank opened in Denver, Colorado, as the world’s only bank designed specifically for young people, ages 21 and under. This was the real thing: a state-chartered, FDIC-insured bank where young people could learn financial responsibility through the use of banking products and services. After all, their financial future and the future of our communities and nation is in their hands.

Young Americans Bank opened thousands of accounts in the first few months, and soon requests for tours, classes, and school presentations poured in. By 1988, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit was formed to provide programs complementing the bank’s educational mission. This nonprofit, now called Young Americans Center for Financial Education, provides a variety of hands-on programs for youth that develop financial skills and relevant learning.

 

WHAT’S YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE ORGANIZATION AND THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
Our goal is that Colorado youth grow up knowing how to earn, make, and manage their money wisely, regardless of background. We focus on free enterprise, global economics, entrepreneurship and banking and personal finance with four keystone programs: Young Americans Bank, Young AmeriTowne, International Towne, and YouthBiz.

 

WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU NEED TO MAKE THOSE DREAMS COME TRUE?
Young Americans nonprofit programs depend on thousands of volunteers as well as financial and educational support from the community. That support enables us to impact thousands of kids, teens and young adults each year through engaging, hands-on programs.

Our supporters range from large, multi-year corporate partners to smaller entrepreneurial business owners; from passionate individual givers to dedicated local foundations. We are committed to creating long-term relationships with every one of them.

 

WHAT IS (OR HAS BEEN) YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE?
Our biggest challenge is expanding our programs beyond the Denver metro area. Through the implementation of cloud-based technology, we are now able to send Young AmeriTowne On the Road to communities throughout the state and even across state lines.

 

WHAT WORDS OF ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER LEADERS LOOKING TO MAKE AN IMPACT?
The ability for me to lead Young Americans is the American dream. We need to make sure our young people are equipped with the skills they need to be successful at life and achieve their dreams as well.

 

HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
If you are looking to impact the financial future of thousands of youth annually, visit us online at www.yacenter.org.

 


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