Ministry Highlight: Colorado Uplift

“Let’s focus on the Third World here in America!” These words, spoken by Kent Hutcheson, inspired him 36 years ago to launch Colorado Uplift. Their mission is to focus on Denver’s inner-city youth with the goal of improving their academic performance and guiding them onto better career and life tracks.

The Crisis:

Across America’s urban areas, public school students drop out at alarming rates. Too many of America’s high school students are underserved and as a result they are underperforming. A large majority of urban youth lack even one caring adult in their life.

The Method:

Colorado Uplift operates from a “students-mentoring-students” approach. High school students learn leadership skills in the classroom from Uplift’s trained staff. The time spent together fosters personal relationships between staff and students, offering the students support on a relational level. Colorado Uplift is committed to providing year-round encouragement to their students through a variety of programs.

The Solution:

The high schoolers take what they learn to elementary students in many of the same schools where they attended years earlier. This bridge continues through middle and high school, encouraging younger and older students to reach their potential, both academically and in leadership roles. The younger students mature into mentors and the positive cycle continues.

The Denver Public School System reports an increase in graduation rates from an overall 40% to 90% among those students enrolled in the Uplift training program. After high school, 84% of those participating in the Uplift program attend college.

The success of the Uplift model has inspired other cities around the country including Phoenix, Orlando, and New York City to create their own version of the “students-mentoring-students” model. The system works and has recently received national attention from Forbes.

Recently, WaterStone’s Senior Vice President of Generosity, Jeff Gott, joined the Uplift board. His expertise in philanthropy and converting complex assets into funding will be an asset to furthering the work of Colorado Uplift.

For more information on Colorado Uplift, visit coloradouplift.org.

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