Students at Del Castillo Elementary School launched the Cowboyville Minitropolis with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception Thursday morning to celebrate the start of a program that teaches financial literacy by putting the students in charge.

Students at Del Castillo Elementary School launched the Cowboyville Minitropolis with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception Thursday morning to celebrate the start of a program that teaches financial literacy by putting the students in charge.

With guidance from IBC Bank-Brownsville, Del Castillo fourth-grade teachers and their students have set up an IBC Bank as the lead institution in a community where the student citizens will earn and learn how to manage money earned for good attendance, good behavior and other achievements.

Later, Cowboyville will add a news outlet, a store and other institutions, students at all grade levels will hold real-world positions depending on their interests, and together the students will see how a community works together for the good of its citizens.

On Thursday, Al Villarreal, IBC Bank-Brownsville CEO and president, joined Cowboyville Presidents Noe Rodriguez and Abril Acevedo as they signed a check from IBC Bank-Brownsville to initially fund activities in Cowboyville. Del Castillo is looking for additional sponsors, fourth-grade teacher Vanessa Flores said.

“The students earn the Cowboy bucks, and they get to go spend them,” Flores said. “We’re just supporting them through the whole thing so that once the store opens we’ll be ready.”

Villarreal said IBC Bank’s interest in the project is to help develop future community leaders.

“Our best work is done when we get people together,” he said after thanking Del Castillo Principal Petra Flores and Esperanza Zendejas, the Brownsville Independent School District superintendent, for their openness in helping get the program started.

A more complete version of this story is available on www.myBrownsvilleHerald.com