Winter | Issue 18 | Date: January 19, 2022
Funding Great Schools. Rooted in Community. 
Happy New Year from RootED Denver
Happy New Year from RootED Denver. We are excited for the start of the second half of the school year that's underway. We have been reflecting on our impact since inception and decided to share some of those realizations with you.

Since 2018, RootED has provided more than $19 million in grants for autonomous schools, community-led organizations and special initiatives that have impacted 82,576 students. And, we've funded more than $6 million in grants to 86 BIPOC-led organizations.

We fund and support public nonprofit charter schools and semi-autonomous innovation schools in Denver Public Schools (DPS) with strong student success, with an emphasis on improving outcomes for students of color, students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, students with disabilities, and English language learners.

We believe students, schools, and communities thrive when they have the access, tools, and resources to drive change, so we provide funding and strategic support to organizations that authentically engage their communities to create high quality, responsive public schools.

Special initiatives funding provides the flexibility to take advantage of collaborative or time-sensitive opportunities that inform the current or future activities of the education ecosystem. To date, RootED’s investments have focused on COVID-19 responsiveness, teacher pipeline diversity and education research projects, including the Community Views on Quality and Equity in Education project launched last fall.

View more of detail around our impact.
Open Enrollment for SchoolChoice Begins
The annual DPS SchoolChoice Round 1 application process opened for families and students on January 14, and the district is hosting information sessions and virtual school expos to help families and students with the application process.

SchoolChoice gives families and students the opportunity to rank their top school preferences for the next school year in a SchoolChoice application. 

Students are matched to schools based on their preferences, as well as school admission priorities and available space, and according to data provided by the district, 84% of participants last year received their first-choice school.

SchoolChoice is a fundamental tool for creating more equitable outcomes for students of color, and it’s critical every family has equitable access to choose a high-quality school for their children. Watch the interview with CBS4 and Transform Education Now's Nicholas Martinez about the SchoolChoice process.

SchoolChoice Round 1 ends at 4:00 p.m. on February 15. Families are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.  

The community can access English and Spanish versions of a Facebook Live event that provides more information on SchoolChoice Round 1 and includes helpful tools and reminders. More information can also be found on the SchoolChoice website, or through a virtual school expo to learn more about specific schools. 
Denver Public Schools Charter Renewals
Thank you to the Denver Board of Education for the vote to approve the renewal of 16 Denver charter schools.

Several board members leaned heavily on Superintendent Dr. Alex Marrero's recommendation to approve the charter renewals and noted Dr. Marrero's belief that approving the renewals was the right thing to dovoting 6-1.

Before she voted to approve the charter renewals, Director Dr. Carrie Olson noted that she has had reservations about charter schools and called the closure of district-run schools painful.

However, she said, "What I have come to learn over the years is that our charter schools are, above anything else, schools. They serve our DPS students, they work alongside families, [and] they employ caring and hardworking leaders, teachers and staff."

Dr. Olson also noted her gratitude for charter partners for participating and collaborating to address declining enrollment in the district, and several board members recognized charter leaders for their collaborative approach. 

RootED remains committed to working with the Denver board of education to protect and improve SchoolChoice, which is a fundamental tool for creating more equitable outcomes for students of color. There’s still work to do to understand the tremendous value charter schools bring to the district, and more importantly, the families and students in our community. In the meantime, we celebrate our charter partners and thank the superintendent and the board for supporting the renewal of 16 great schools in our community!

Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.
This week, several of our grantees honored the lasting legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose unwavering commitment to racial equality invigorated the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and ’60s.

Decades after his assassination, Dr. King’s leadership continues to resonate and inspire. This is how some of our grantees are honoring Dr. King this month:

  • Young Aspiring Americans for Social and Political Activism (YAASPA) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) hosted the 2022 MLK Youth Summit on January 15. The virtual event offered opportunities for youth to hear from guest speakers and learn how to engage in their communities. 
  • Stand for Children participated in the Learn From History virtual panel called Dr. King’s Legacy in the 21st Century on January 13. The event featured speakers who discussed whether Dr. King’s words have been misappropriated; his vision for reparations; and the virtues and potential “shortcomings” of his strategic decisions. 
  • Rocky Mountain Prep Berkeley participated in “dream week” where they read biographies about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and wrote about their dreams or small actions they could take to make the world a better place. 
  • The students of the Know Justice, Know Peace: The Take podcast spent the morning of January 14 at the Colorado State Capitol listening to representatives read the Know Justice, Know Peace Resolution and then were honored by the Colorado Holiday Commission with the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Business Award. Congratulations! 

At RootED we reflect on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as we continue to fight for students of color and students from low-income families and their right to a quality education.
We See You!
University Prep Expands into Adams County Schools
Congratulations to the University Prep team and community who successfully advocated for a new campus in Commerce City!

The Adams 14 school board voted 3-2 in December to open a new University Prep charter elementary school this year.

The charter network’s third campus will open with preschool and kindergarten enrollment in August and add a grade level (up to fifth grade) each school year after.

University Prep boasts excellent student achievement records. Fourth graders at its Arapahoe Street campus scored in English Language Arts in the 90th percentile of all DPS, and fifth graders at the Steele Street campus scored in the 96th percentile. 

In a post on University Prep’s Facebook page, the network shared that after the vote, one parent leader told them, “I can’t wait to see what U Prep will bring to Adams 14—my community—in the years to come. I know our neighborhoods’ families will be proud.”
A Privilege to Return as a Teacher
Charter networks are finding a deep bench of talent among their alumni.

DSST Public Schools leverages its Apprentice Teacher Program to recruit alumni to become educators. Last year, 11 new hires were former DSST students. The apprentice program provides full-time pay and benefits during a one-year residency for aspiring educators who are pursuing their state license.

DSST schools also offer alums an opportunity to participate in a Summer Fellows program, a three-week, paid program that teaches participants about the local and national education landscape, and theory and practices related to educational equity. Participants are also paired with mentor teachers and teach summer school students to gain hands-on experience in education. Learn more about DSST’s Apprentice Teacher Program.

STRIVE Prep has also actively recruited alumni to join its team of educators. In blog posts on STRIVE’s website, former students share why they’ve returned to the network as teachers. Lisa Brown, an alum and teacher at STRIVE Prep Green Valley Ranch, says her STRIVE teachers taught her to be successful in and out of the classroom. 

“I feel like I can encourage my students that anything is possible with a little hard work,” she says.

Another STRIVE alum-turned-educator, Brandon Ware, says, “STRIVE Prep is the reason I am working at STRIVE Prep. The course of my life since I graduated high school has been almost completely determined by my experiences as a student and the values I learned. … I consider it a privilege to be back as a teacher.”

Learn more about STRIVE Prep’s application process. 
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