As a result, the Adolph Coors Foundation provided an operating grant, and an additional challenge grant, to help expand The Fire Within from its original three classrooms to over 80 classrooms statewide -- in just three years. The program will train over 2,000 young entrepreneurs in Colorado, with the hope to become a national model benefiting hundreds of thousands of young people and their communities.

“The Fire Within program helps youth implement their business plans, which is where the real learning occurs,” Spencer-Thomas said. “We are really excited to have the opportunity to expand statewide and get more youth involved.  They will in turn learn business skills and prevent suicide among their peers.”   For more information on The Fire Within program, visit:

Carson J. Spencer Foundation

The Fire Within. Young people want to be in charge. To use their creativity. To make a difference in their communities.  

And that is what The Fire Within program is all about -- a hands-on, youth-driven approach that teaches high school students business skills and leadership, while at the same time tackling a very worrisome public health problem in Colorado…teen suicide.  

Partnering with Junior Achievement and the Second Wind Fund, this school-based program is quickly building the next generation of young entrepreneurs. The students are guided through a year-long course in business education, entrepreneurship, leadership training and relationship building.  They also learn the painful facts about suicide, culminating in youth-run suicide prevention projects that they create and implement in their school and their community.  

“When our staff first observed this program in action, they saw high school youth who were engaged and passionate about what they were learning and doing.  We realized right then that The Fire Within was going to make a big impact, and we wanted to figure out a way to help accelerate that process,” said Pete Coors, Chairman of The Adolph Coors Foundation.

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