In the wake of budget cuts that eliminated the business program in Middle Park High School two years ago, community business leaders have stepped up to fill the academic gap.
The local organization Business Without Borders has attracted a Junior Achievement program to the East Grand School District.
Starting in February, high school students at Middle Park High and 4th-grade students at both the Fraser Valley and Granby elementary schools will take part in programming provided by the global organization Junior Achievement, which has been providing education resources to help students better understand financial leadership and business leadership since 1919.
Junior Achievement will provide the curriculum, materials and training, and Business Without Borders is organizing volunteers from the community to teach the programs.
A $2,000 grant from the East Grand Education Foundation is covering most of Junior Achievement's expenses in materials and training. According to organizers, the service will not use any of the district's funds.
The programs "introduce students to economics on a whole different level," said Debbie Harris of Business Without Borders. "And from BWB's standpoint, it's working with future consumers and teaching them why it's important to spend locally."
The programs teach areas of personal finance, entrepreneurship and work-readiness skills, and they involve the willingness of district teachers to include programs in their classrooms. According to Junior Achievement officials in Denver, the material taught is in line with the state's strengthened standards for personal finance curriculum, due to be implemented in classrooms by 2014.
Doug Goodwin's and Cindy Rimmer's 4th-grade classes at the Granby and Fraser elementary schools are embracing Junior Achievement, and Erin-Rose Schneider's 9th-10th grade classes and Jack Dugwyler's 11th- and 12th-grade classes at the Middle Park High School are taking part.
"It brings role models into the classroom," said Junior Achievement spokesperson Kim McGrigg. "There are people from all types of businesses that can really show that you can have a successful business in that community."
McGrigg calls it a "real-world link between education and work after school."
The high school "teaches trades, such as catering, auto repair and wood-making," said Harris, "but is not teaching students how to run a business."
"It definitely is helping us fill a gap in the area of business," said East Grand Superintendent Nancy Karas, adding. "It's not intended to permanently replace it. We continue to monitor those areas that have been cut, and when the need arises, to put those programs back in place."
As an example, she said, the high school has reintroduced an economic and personal-finance class to the high school, which will work in tandem with the Junior Achievement curriculum.
The U.S. headquarters of Junior Achievement is located in Colorado Springs and has offices throughout the U.S. Due to the dependence on volunteers to bring its programs to a certain school district, there are few active Junior Achievement activities taking place in Colorado's mountain communities, according to Sally Messinger of Junior Achievement. The next closest district that participates is Eagle County, she said.
As many as 105,000 students are being served from the Junior Achievement's Denver Office, which incorporates the Denver-metro area, Fort Collins, to the Wyoming state line.