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Towne is Closed! - 2023-24 AmeriTowne Re-Cap

The AmeriTowne season has ended for the 2023-24 school year. After hosting over 20 schools to Young AmeriTowne of Kansas, Towne is closed for the summer!


Nex-Generation Round Up for Youth, Inc. hosted 21 schools for Young AmeriTowne of Kansas in Lenora during the 2023-24 school year. Combined these 21 schools brought 694 students and over 135 teachers and volunteers. That's over 60 more students than the combined attendance for the 2022-23 school year!


Something New!

Students sharing their trinkets being sold in their shop.

This year we introduced the Digital Media Agency and the Nex-Great Idea Shop, which incorporated Nex-Gen's entrepreneurship program into the AmeriTowne curriculum. The Nex-Great Idea Shop was popular, their pet adoptions were the hottest item sold. These pets were small exotic animal keychains that included an adoption certificate to sign when you bought them from the shop. Other items that were sold in the shop were customized fabric pencil bags, customized bead bracelets, and AmeriTowne keychains. Students all seemed to really enjoy the new shop and often made comments about how much they loved the items! With feedback from the students and volunteers, we know we can adjust the amount of items sold per economy to increase the number of pet adoptions and decrease the number of customized bead bracelets. The reason we would decide to decrease the number of bracelets because of the time it takes to string each bead. Oftentimes with the smaller economies, the students would get overwhelmed with an influx of orders in the afternoon and needed assistance finalizing them. After having a conversation with students from several different schools, that seemed to be agreed upon.


Student excitedly shows off an item they bought.

The Digital Media Agency took the place of the Newspaper that we've had in the past. In this shop, students would create a digital newsfeed for the other citizens of AmeriTowne to see on the street and in their shop. After interviewing their peers, Content Creators and Content Specialists would type the interviews into their newsfeed and insert any pictures they had taken. In addition to writing stories, this shop sold AmeriTowne pencils, mini

notebooks, erasers, and magic disappearing ink. The idea behind the switch from Newspaper to Digital Media was to create something that is a bit more modern as physical copies of newspapers are becoming more obsolete. The digital newsfeed was to be something similar to a social media feed like the one you would find on 'Facebook' or 'X'. However, like all good things, there is always room for improvement. Some of the volunteers who attended and assisted in this shop mentioned that the students "needed more of a chance to design." Feedback such as this is always welcome. With this in mind, we can brainstorm ideas and find a way to include more design elements in their positions at the shop.


From the Teachers

Student dressed as a doctor in the Medical Center

Teachers worked hard in their classrooms to prepare their students for attendance day. Using the 4-6 week curriculum, they taught their students about check writing, government, the interviewing process, and so much more!


After their attendance date, we sent the teachers a survey asking for their feedback on the day they attended AmeriTowne. Of these teachers who came to Towne this year, 87.5% of them saw the students learn money management while attending Towne. In addition, 68.8% said they saw students learn how to write a check, 68.8% saw time management, 68.8% saw teamwork, 56.3% saw supply and demand, and 75% saw the students learn about advertising. When we asked the teachers how likely they were to attend AmeriTowne again next year, if given the opportunity, each one said they'd be "likely" or "very likely" to do so.


We also ask each teacher for an "ah-ha" moment they see from students while at Towne, here is what a few of them had to say:

  • "An "ah-ha" moment I saw was that it is hard work being an 'adult' and you have to make the best of your time there."

  • "I saw students learning how to manage their money and make smart financial decisions."

  • "Some students that don't normally participate in a class setting did a great job at AmeriTowne."


Student writing loan repayment receipts in the Bank

Additional feedback we received from teachers were to find a way to help the accountants be better prepared for their day at Towne. In the curriculum we provide, there is specialized Accountant training that students go through during their "Prep Day" before attending. There were teachers who noticed that some of their accountants needed just a little bit more in the training for Towne. We are currently updating this training for the next school year by providing the accountants with an example of what the accounting deposit slips will look like, an additional line to find a subtotal on their ledger sheets, and more.


From the Volunteers

Volunteers are also an important piece to Young AmeriTowne. Each school is asked to bring 9-10 volunteers with them to help the students within the shops. These volunteers are oftentimes parents, other teachers, paras, or administrators, and community members. These volunteers are "guides on the side" during Towne. The students are in charge of running their Towne, but might have a question about something in their shop or spending their paycheck. Each volunteer is provided a packet with information about the shop they are in and some frequently asked questions from students.


We also send a survey to the volunteers after their attendance day to get their feedback on their experience at Towne. Of the volunteers who responded to the survey after attending, 84.8% of them saw students learning money management while at Towne. Additionally, 75.8% saw students learn how to write a check, 81.8% saw time management, 72.7% saw teamwork, 63.6% saw supply and demand, and 48.5% saw advertising being learned at AmeriTowne.


We ask the volunteers to share any "ah-ha" moments they observe from the students. Here is what a few of witnessed:

Student working with an AmeriTowne staff member on the computer
  • "The students took real ownership of their roles. It was not just "pretend day," they went to work and took pride in their job."

  • "I saw a student be more engaged than I have ever seen him. He truly enjoyed his role in the shop and flourished in it."

  • "I saw them understand, or start to understand, how finances operate in the real world."


90.9% of the volunteers who took our survey said that they would be "likely" or "very likely" to volunteer with their school for AmeriTowne again if given the opportunity. Volunteers are so important to AmeriTowne. We love getting to meet and share our program with so many community members from all over our 28-county area and beyond.


During the Summertime

During the summer we review our curriculum, order our trinkets and more to prepare for the next school year. Our Nex-Gen intern, Jaelyn, works hard to get items prepared and share her ideas for the program.


Even though we aren't running Towne dates during the summer, we have opportunities to take tours of our AmeriTowne site and receive a short presentation on our additional programs. For any interest in doing so, you can contact our Executive Director, Kelli Hueneke, at khueneke@nex-generation.org or our Youth Programs/AmeriTowne Coordinator, Sabre Riggins, at sriggins@nex-generation.org.



Young AmeriTowne® of Kansas in the Northwest Kansas area is being administered by Nex-Generation Round Up for Youth, Inc., under a license from Young Americans Center for Financial Education in Denver, CO.  "Young AmeriTowne" and "Young Americans Center for Financial Education" are registered trademarks of Young Americans Center for Financial Education, Denver, CO, and the Young AmeriTowne logo is a trademark of Young Americans Center for Financial Education, Denver, CO. 

 

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