YouthEntity dedicated to helping youth succeed |

YouthEntity dedicated to helping youth succeed

Niki Delson
High Country RSVP
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Jury Jerome Post Independent

CARBONDALE, Colorado – In today’s economic climate, how can youth learn to marshal their energy, use their talents, maximize their potential and recognize their limitations so they can gain competence and compete in the adult world? One answer is in our own backyard.

YouthEntity is a community and youth development initiative dedicated to helping youth succeed, no matter what they want to do when they grow up. Their goal is “to engage and empower youth to discover their potential by providing real-world educational experiences.”

The YouthEntity Center, located in Carbondale, has its roots in the 2001 Computers for Kids program. By 2005, the board realized that refurbishing computers and delivering them to students in schools did not replicate real life experiences.

“They wanted to offer more to youth in the valley,” explained Executive Director Kirsten Petre McDaniel.

After nine months of research, the board developed a strategic plan to help students become ready for work and life. McDaniel, who has a masters degree in business administration, introduced the “Four P’s” of marketing: product, price, promotion and place. The idea was to help students develop a real life plan for distributing computers.

The program has evolved beyond the Computers for Kids project.

YouthEntity incorporates three pods or learning centers: technological skills, financial knowledge and business experience.

Young people participating in YouthEntity are hard working, motivated, creative and respectful.

Working in the technological component, students engage with mentors and create web designs for local businesses. For a stunning example of their work, visit

In the real world, recognition as an adult means not only finding and holding a job, but also managing your income. Adolescents typically focus on the present. Long-term consequences and future planning are skills to be learned.

Two YouthEntity programs, the Investment Challenge and “I am Financial Knowledge,” address these issues.

In the Investment Challenge, volunteer coaches work with teams of high school students teaching them about investing for their future. Students learn how to assess risk and build a virtual stock market portfolio. Then they invest $1,000 in real money in the market.

In “I am financial knowledge”, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders learn how to save, invest, share and spend their money. YouthEntity even houses an FDIC approved Alpine Bank branch office, a bank just for youth, where young people can open a savings or checking account and learn about basic financial literacy.

“Being financially literate means making responsible choices around money. By learning about money and banking you feel more secure,” a 10-year-old participant wrote on the YouthEntity Facebook page.

Project teams of students, hired by real-life clients in the community, learn about the business world. They bring their youthful creativity and energy and engage with clients to solve real-life community problems. A recent example was creating a food pantry for animals living in homes with limited financial means.

Are you looking to buy a unique birthday gift? YouthEntity’s award-winning program “I am Financial Knowledge,” based on national standards about money and banking for youngsters in grades four to six, is available on at

YouthChefs is another signature program held at the kitchen at Glenwood Springs High School. Participants receive intensive training in pastry arts under the direction of volunteer master chef and coach Chris Bergstrom.

The kids come in knowing nothing and end their training with a 1,000-piece pastry and chocolate buffet for friends and donors. Let us hope that someday YouthEntity makes this a community event.

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