Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Denver Scholarship Foundation provides funding for 23 DU students

Less than two years ago, a group of Denver community leaders came together to create the Denver Scholarship Foundation, whose mission is to encourage and help finance post-secondary education for Denver Public Schools (DPS) students.

Last year, the foundation provided more than $300,000 in total scholarships to its first recipients, and this year, its contributions to the University of Denver alone will include more than $122,000 to 23 undergraduates.

For a relatively new nonprofit organization, these numbers are ambitious, but according to Nate Easley, the foundation’s deputy director, this is just the beginning.

“Our goal is to reach and support up to 6,000 students annually,” he says. “We help students attend everything from Emily Griffith to DU, Colorado College and everything in between.”

The foundation and DU entered into a Memorandum of Understanding this summer that, among other things, commits the University to provide matching funds for foundation scholarship recipients.

And financial assistance is just one piece of a support network that the foundation has put in place to help DPS students set their sights on post-secondary education.

In each of the nine DPS traditional high schools, the foundation has established “Future Centers,” which employ a full-time college/financial aid adviser who assists students with career exploration, post-secondary admission, the financial aid process and scholarship applications.

Once scholarship recipients begin their post-secondary education, the foundation partners with educational institutions through its “Persistence and Retention” program, making sure students participate in activities that will help them maintain their financial aid.

Yessica Holguin, the foundation’s senior college and financial aid adviser, says that DU has been “incredibly supportive” of the foundation’s mission by accepting their scholars and by providing Future Center volunteers.

Sarah McCauley, program coordinator with DU’s Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning, says DU provided volunteers to South High School for several years. When the foundation’s Future Center opened, the DU students decided to focus their efforts there.

“We have seven or eight DU sophomores volunteering there, helping the high school students prepare for college, helping them with applications, tests and improving their grades,” says McCauley.

Additionally, Holguin says that DU’s Pioneer Leadership Program “adopted the Future Centers as a project last year and provided six volunteers and almost 300 hours of service. They also organized a DU college visit for high school juniors and arranged for them to have lunch in the cafeteria.  Those small details are what make an impact.”

To learn more about volunteering for the Denver Scholarship Foundation, contact Rana Tarkenton or at 303-951-4158.

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