On June 12th, eleven youth representing four San Luis Valley counties took part in a Youth Entrepreneurship Fund Design Day organized by First Southwest Community Fund (FSWCF). The design day took place at the Boys and Girls Club of the San Luis Valley and was facilitated by Amy Scavezze from GripTape. The day was filled with activities, food, and good times. The youth were empowered to share their opinions and thoughts on how First Southwest Community Fund can best serve their entrepreneurial journey through access to funding and business support.

Azarel Madrigal-Chase, First Southwest Community Fund Program Director, said, “It was such an amazing day full of laughs and great ideas. It was truly an honor to work with these eleven youth. They brought great perspectives and a positive attitude to the table. The future is bright and we cannot wait to implement this new program, “Banking on Youth,” to support youth entrepreneurship in the San Luis Valley.”

There is a keen interest and passion for entrepreneurship among youth in the San Luis Valley. During the Design Day, youth from four counties came together for a day of dreaming big and creating real products to envision what a program would look like that supports youth entrepreneurs.

They shared ideas they have for businesses including: custom home decor, boba tea, language translation services, hand-crafted jewelry, educational day camps for young kids, anti-scalper bot for online shopping, clothing, and shoe stores.

By the end of the day, they named the program “Banking on Youth.” They also developed a framework for the program including: how youth would apply, what selection criteria would be used, what outcomes would indicate a successful program, the need to develop a survey to collect data, and the structure for youth to receive grants or loans from the program.

“FSWCF is working to elevate the voices of young people and honor what they are saying. Banking on Youth is a program that is built to serve youth in the most effective ways because it’s a program that’s flexible and responsive to the needs of youth, not youth having to respond to a program they had no part in developing. I believe this is powerful work that makes lasting and transformative impacts on the youth participating,” said Amy Scavezze, Colorado Program Manager at GripTape

Aaron Miltenberger, Director of the Boys and Girls Club of the San Luis Valley, said, “This is another important way that our community is investing in our young people. When we believe in their ability and support their passion to make this Valley a place where young people thrive, it helps them stay engaged and committed to helping things go right. Thanks to GripTape and First Southwest Community Fund for investing in our future!“

If you would like more information on “Banking on Youth,” please be sure to follow us on social media for announcements on its launch in the coming months. For more information on the Banking on Youth Fund, please reach out to Azarel Madrigal-Chase at azarelmc@fswcf.org.


About First Southwest Community Fund

As a 501c3, First Southwest Community Fund supports the dedicated entrepreneurial spirit of rural Colorado, by investing in the people, culture, and ideas that fuel innovation and financial knowledge in our community, with an emphasis on areas of greatest need. First Southwest Community Fund has a primary mission of supporting tangible economic opportunities throughout rural Colorado by making much needed non-traditional capital (loans) available to emerging and existing businesses, which in turn create, retain and grow jobs. Please find more information about First Southwest Community Fund at fswcf.org.