Suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth in the United States. The Carson J. Spencer Foundation, a Denver-based nonprofit, has created an unique program that engages teens to develop innovative strategies to address the root causes of suicide. Its FIRE WITHIN annual entrepreneurial program challenges student teams from more than 30 Colorado high schools to create and operate a business that promotes suicide prevention. Citywide Banks is proud to sponsor the team at Aurora Central High School.

“It is very inspiring to see the creativity and passion among the student teams,” commented Steve Ebner, marketing director at Citywide Banks. “Both mental health wellness and entrepreneurship are two cornerstone passions of our bank. We are thrilled to be part of this important youth program that brings them together.”

The FIRE WITHIN program extends over the entire school year. Each student team meets regularly (some as an accredited class) throughout the year to discuss the mental health needs, challenges, and opportunities within their local student base and surrounding community. Then, the teams use a business planning curriculum from Junior Achievement Rocky Mountain to create a product, information campaign, or service that can help promote mental health wellness and suicide prevention. The students develop a comprehensive business plan and then launch their social enterprise prior to the end of the school year. The goal is to develop and run a sustainable, revenue-generating business that directly addresses the root causes of suicide.

Results from previous FIRE WITHIN initiatives include an increased interest in social entrepreneurship, a deeper understanding of mental health wellness, and stronger leadership skills.

Learn more about this community program and stories from student participants at http://firewithincjsf.org/index.php