Winter | Issue 6 | Date: January 21, 2021
Funding Great Schools. Rooted in Community. 
DPS SchoolChoice Process
The annual Denver Public Schools SchoolChoice window is more important now than ever for Denver students and families.

COVID-19 has exacerbated inequities in education, healthcare, housing, and employment, which has resulted in more students of color and low-income students opting for fully remote learning, the school district’s Department of Planning and Analysis wrote in its Fall Strategic Regional Analysis.

It is critical families complete the SchoolChoice process, and that students have safe in-person learning options this year. Remote learning has an effect on student engagement, with some students becoming less engaged with remote options, and decreased enrollment may have a significant effect on school budgets and schools’ abilities to better serve students. The analysis noted there will be individual schools that may grow in the number of enrolled students, but many more will see significant enrollment declines.

The SchoolChoice window opened for students and families on January 15. They can rank their top 12 school preferences and submit a SchoolChoice application by 4 p.m. on Feb. 16. Amid declining enrollment – and with only a modest enrollment increase projected next year – the school district is conducting outreach to families with a series of English and Spanish Facebook Live events. Visit the SchoolChoice website to learn more. Denver Families for Public Schools is also hosting Virtual Choice Fairs the evenings of January 26, 27 and 28th. 
Grantee Feature
Compass Academy
Flourishing in Middle School
There are a number of qualities that make Compass Academy unique – its leadership development training, emphasis on biliteracy, focus on social-emotional learning, and the one-on-one attention for students, to name a few. 

If you ask the academy’s students, families and educators what makes the school special, they’ll likely tell you all of the above – and they’ll certainly tell you about the bond the students form with their teachers and with each other. 
“Compass is special because of the love that’s here," says Colby Smith, a City Year Impact Manager with Compass Academy. "Love just flows through the walls, through the books, through the material.”

Watch a video about this grantee in English or in Spanish
Superintendent Search
Engagement Update
Three firms have expressed interest in leading the search for a new DPS superintendent, and the Denver Board of Education plans to announce its selection at an upcoming public school board meeting.  

Meanwhile, the board is continuing to look for a firm to lead community engagement related to the superintendent search and hopes to find a long-term engagement partner for future work with communities.  

The board has articulated a number of priorities for its community engagement partner, including but not limited to:

  • The firm must share key values for community-driven engagement, which include transparency and access.
  • The firm must have experience with engagement among diverse communities, including communities that speak different languages.
  • The firm must have experience with and creative solutions for remote engagement.
  • The firm must have the ability to collaborate with the district’s Office of Family and Community Engagement.

For future conversations, the board has asked members to consider key questions they want answered during the community engagement process.

To see the board’s full working session presentation on the search, click here
We See You!
Ednium: The Alumni Collective
TeRay Esquibel, RootED’s Partner for Community Partnership and Advocacy, is inspiring change with a new organization, Ednium: The Alumni Collective. TeRay will leave RootED February 1st to lead Ednium.

A RootED grantee, Ednium is a team of Denver Public Schools alumni that provides programs aiming to reinvent education, give leadership training to young alums, and develop new advocacy initiatives.

Participants in Ednium’s programs have identified new district priorities, including broader definitions of student success and a greater emphasis on equity and representation. They are also advocating for ethnic studies and financial literacy courses to become graduation requirements for the district’s students.

“This is reinvesting in the brilliance in our backyard,” Esquibel told Chalkbeat this month. “This is mobilizing the brilliance to be the powerful force for change that we claim we want them to be.”

Read Chalkbeat's coverage of Ednium here!
Living Dr. King's Values
Our values matter. The beating heart of our work is our commitment to equity, identity, culture, community, innovation, partnership, and collaboration.

This week, as we honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we reflect on our mission: to ensure that all Denver Public Schools students receive a high-quality education that recognizes and values individual and community strengths and cultural difference, enabling students to attain academic achievement, personal growth, and college and career success.

RootED will continue to invest in community-driven organizations, schools and strategies that advance racial equity in education, and to elevate voices of people in our communities who are too-often marginalized. 

As Dr. King said: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
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