YOUNG AMERICANS CENTER for FINANCIAL EDUCATION

Local Nonprofit Media Relations

Background
Young Americans Center for Financial Education is a nonprofit organization based in Denver whose mission is to further the economic education of young people 21 and under. Young Americans Center is home to Young Americans Bank and many award-winning nonprofit programs. Young Americans Bank is the only FDIC-insured bank in the nation designed specifically for young people under the age of 22. Today, there are more than 12,000 savings accounts at the bank representing youth from all 50 states. The educational nonprofit programs of Young Americans Center help young people become competent in managing their financial affairs, while at the same time teaching important life skills, work skills and financial self-sufficiency.

Public Relations Needs
In 2006, GroundFloor Media partnered with Young Americans Center to launch a regional media relations campaign. GroundFloor Media began tracking financial trends in the media and other financial organizations starting in early September and discovered some startling statistics. The number of 18 to 24 year-olds declaring bankruptcy has increased 96 percent in 10 years. According to a report released by the nonprofit research organization, Demos, credit card debt among that same age group rose by 104 percent during the last decade. Based on these statistics, GroundFloor Media developed one local media relations campaign with three key components – Get aHead for Business™, Financial Literacy Month and Young Americans Center’s 20th Anniversary – to be executed between January and September 2007. The goals for the three campaigns were to strengthen Young Americans Center’s reputation in the Denver area and to educate the community about the lack of financial education for young people.

Public Relations Strategy
Get aHead for Business: With support from OppenheimerFunds, Inc., Young Americans Center created Get aHead for Business, an entrepreneurship program. The program not only prepares high school students to run a successful business, but engages students in interactive classroom learning that culminates with students launching, running and managing their own coffee cart inside their school. Three high schools in the Denver metro area launched the three-semester Get aHead for Business curriculum in fall 2006 and officially opened their coffee carts in early February 2007 with formal ribbon cutting “Grand Opening” ceremonies.

GroundFloor Media worked closely with Young Americans Center and each school district to support the events with sound strategic advice surrounding the “Grand Openings.” Additionally, GroundFloor Media was responsible for securing media interest from Denver-area newspapers and broadcast outlets and was tasked with developing the supporting media materials (fact sheet, media advisory and press release) as well as issuing media advisories to support each of the three grand openings.

Financial Literacy Month: April is Financial Literacy Month and, more specifically, April 24, 2007 was National Teach Children to Save Day. Each year, Young Americans Bank adopts a small Denver public school and awards one student from each class a piggy bank with $5 in coins to celebrate National Teach Children to Save Day. To promote Financial Literacy Month, Young Americans Bank identified four bank customers or young entrepreneurs, along with their parents, who could be profiled in the local media during the month of April. GroundFloor Media wrote and distributed four different media pitches (each profiling a different child with a slightly altered financial angle) to CW2, CBS, NBC and The Denver Post.

To support National Teach Children to Save Day in 2007, Young Americans Bank partnered with Montclair Elementary School in Denver and educated nearly 300 students as to why it is important to save money. GroundFloor Media solicited the support of Nick Agro, owner of Denver-based Whirled Peas Catering. Agro volunteered his time to speak with the students about setting goals – like starting a business – and how saving now can help you reach those goals later in life.

Young Americans Center’s 20th Anniversary: In observation of its 20th Anniversary, Young Americans Center invited the community to its celebration event on Aug. 4 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The celebration was packed full of child-friendly activities including a Piggy Bank decorating festival. Young Americans Center secured “celebrity” judges, Kathy Walsh, CBS; Gregg Moss, NBC; and Jim Hooley, ABC, to judge the Piggy Banks. Immediately following the festivities, the children attempted to crack open a very large Piggy Bank Piñata filled with treats.

GroundFloor Media worked with Young Americans Center to identify story opportunities to generate local media interest and community awareness of its anniversary the month leading up to the celebration event in August. Young Americans Center identified four of its first bank customers (from 1987) or young entrepreneurs who could be profiled in the Denver Business Journal Aug. 4 issue. Additionally, GroundFloor Media wrote and distributed media pitches about the institution’s history, successes to date and its community event to the local print and broadcast media, and drafted relevant media materials (press release and media advisory).

Results
Get aHead for Business, Financial Literacy Month and the 20th Anniversary allowed Young Americans Center to differentiate the Center and Bank by demonstrating its unique award-winning nonprofit programs, and responsiveness to trends in finance, business and education for young people. Overall, the local media relations campaign generated more than 1,773,435 media impressions.

Highlights
GroundFloor Media secured outstanding editorial coverage in 2007 for Young Americans Center, including:

  • Under a print exclusive agreement, The Denver Post published a story on the front page of the Business section about Get aHead for Business.
  • 9News conducted a live interview at Hidden Lake with students from the Get aHead for Business program.
  • During Financial Literacy Month, three broadcast segments aired on CW2, NBC and CBS.
  • 9News featured five Young Americans Experts on “Kids Special Money Line 9” during which approximately 60 phone calls were received.
  • The Rocky Mountain News and Denver Business Journal ran stories and ABC featured Young Americans Center in-studio to promote the 20th Anniversary event.
  • Media Coverage of the 20th Anniversary Celebration Event on Aug. 4 included CW2, CBS, NBC and a photo ran in The Denver Post.