Denver is home to many things: The Colorado State Capitol, The Denver Mint and the world’s only financial institution designed specifically for young people.
The Young Americans Bank opened in 1987 in Denver, as the only FDIC-insured bank for youth in the country.
Today, in addition to its headquarters, YA has a second bank facility at 4800 Telluride St., Bldg. #5, on the Evie Dennis Campus in Green Valley Ranch. Both locations are full-service facilities, offering such financial products as savings accounts, checking accounts, certificates of deposit and debit/credit cards.
“Kids are clearly the clients and the focus at Young Americans,” said Carol Fabbri, whose son is a Young Americans Bank customer.
“Every detail within the bank is directed toward kids and teaching them about money, usually by doing—not watching. Each bank teller’s station is equipped with a slide-out step stool so a young client is literally not looked down on and can be at the right height to discuss their money with the tellers.
“Coin-counting machines have visible displays so kids can watch their own hard-earned money being counted,” she continued. “Their branded piggy banks have sections for investing, saving, donating and spending. These small decisions have a large impact on kids’ attitudes toward money and their future choices as adults.”
YA does much more than banking, however. A year after the bank was founded, the not-for-profit Young Americans Center for Financial Education was formed to provide a variety of real-life financial experiences and hands-on educational programs for youth. These programs are designed to build life skills, work skills and financial self-sufficiency.
A perfect example: The Second Saturdays classes that take place 10:30-11:30 a.m. on the second Saturday of each month for kids ages 3-8 and their parents. Participants get an interactive tour of Young Americans Bank, and then they participate in games and activities — such as Coin Carnival and Scavenger Hunt — that focus on handling money and banking.
Other YA offerings include specialized curricula for educators, such as Get aHead for Business. This entrepreneurial business curriculum is designed for high school students, and it combines interactive classroom learning with real-life experience, developing creative and critical thinking skills by enabling students to start, operate and grow a business in their school. Other programs include Young AmeriTowne, International Towne, Rural Young Americans and more.
Today, in addition to its headquarters, YA has three program facilities: at 4800 Telluride St., Bldg. #5, Denver; 401 S. Pierce St., Lakewood; and 32415 Highway 34, Wray. According to the organization, 50,000 kids take part in its programs and activities each year.
Fabbri, for one, is enthusiastic about YA’s role in Colorado.
“Kids that understand money grow into adults that make good financial decisions,” she said. “By focusing on getting kids comfortable with money early on, Young Americans creates a future generation of Coloradans making better choices about money.”