Funding great schools.
Rooted in community.

Students, schools, and communities thrive when they have the access, tools, and resources to drive change. That’s why RootED provides funding and strategic support to schools and organizations that authentically engage their communities to create world-class schools for every student in Denver.

A Note from Dr. Nate Easley (CEO)

Welcome to RootED (Formerly Blue School Partners),

RootED’s mission is to ensure all students in Denver can attend a high quality public school. We are dedicated to family and community voice, and seek to co-create a system that provides low-income and traditionally underrepresented students the world-class education they deserve. 

We leverage philanthropic investments to elevate great organizations doing this important work. Community and family partnership comprise the foundation of our strategy because we know the system thrives most when families, students, and educators, are empowered with the knowledge and tools to drive change.

We know there are no quick-fix solutions to overcoming the challenges our educational ecosystem faces. However, I am confident that with strong partnerships, transparent dialogue, and a relentless focus on what is best for students and families, we have an opportunity to ensure every student in Denver attends a quality public school.

RootED’s success is predicated on the success of the organizations and communities in which it invests. In the pursuit of a world class public education system, we have established a set of guiding principles that shape our funding priorities.

My team and I look forward to continuing and growing partnerships built upon the shared value that all students should have access to a world-class public education system.

Respectfully,

Dr. Nate Easley
Chief Executive Officer

The Goal

We believe all children deserve the chance to dream big. So we’ve set an audacious goal: all Denver Public Schools students will attend a high-performing school that prepares them for what’s next — success in college, in careers, and in life.

The Need

Reaching this goal requires a departure from the status quo. Today, four of five low-income third graders are not reading and writing at grade level; 3 of 4 are not at grade level in math [based on analysis of DPS CMAS Data], and two of five low-income students do not graduate high school [based on analysis of CDE graduation statistics]. This lack of access to a quality education disproportionately affects students of color and students with disabilities.

Many of these children and their families, educators, and surrounding communities are left out of efforts to improve their schools.

Guiding Principles

RootED’s investments in schools and school-improvement partners are consistent with our values.

  • Quality Public Schools — We are guided by a desire to support our community in enabling opportunity for all students, not by adherence to any political ideology.
  • Community Partnership — Voices of students, families, and educators must guide decision-making and intentional efforts must be made to hear from those voices that often are unheard.
  • Educator Leadership & Autonomy — Educators and school leaders should have the freedom to enact change in accordance with the needs of the communities they serve.
  • Outcome-Driven Innovations — We do not invest in approaches which have proven unsuccessful in enabling opportunity for all students — each of our investments is intended to enable tomorrow to be better than today for students in our community.
  • Close the Opportunity Gap — We must ensure the district equitably supports students from all demographics. Denver is a dynamic and diverse city filled with potential leaders. Closing the opportunity gap is imperative to a great public education system.
  • Break-the-Mold Solutions — Proactively seek, identify, and fund innovative practices and programs that show promising signs of positive outcomes for students.

Our Approach

We’re investing in partners that ensure students, families, and educators are at the center of decision-making about plans to improve their schools — and that academic gains benefit all kids. Specifically, our funding priorities include:

  • Empowering students, families, and educators — providing access, tools, and resources for traditionally underrepresented stakeholders to advocate for better educational outcomes
  • Expanding high-quality schools — specifically those that successfully serve students who are low-income, students of color, and/or students of disability
  • Fostering break-the-mold innovation — developing original and inspired school models and educational approaches
  • Recruiting, developing, and retaining strong teachers and leaders who reflect the diversity of the students they serve

RootEd does not issue requests for proposals. Rather, we invite conversations with organizations, schools, and school leaders who have ideas and programs that are aligned to our goal that every student will attend a high-performing school.

Contact us to learn about requesting funding from RootED.

Click here to learn about the organizations and schools we currently fund.

Here is a list of organizations and schools we’re currently supporting, or in the process of finalizing grants for:

Nonprofits:

  • A+ Colorado
  • CLLARO
  • Empower Schools
  • FaithBridge
  • Montbello Organizing Committee
  • Park Hill Collective Impact
  • Stand for Children Colorado
  • Together Colorado
  • Transform Education Now
  • YAASPA

Innovation Zones:

  • Luminary Learning Network
    • Denver Green School
    • Creative Challenge Community
    • Cole Arts and Science Academy
    • Valdez Elementary
    • Ashley Elementary
  • Beacon Innovation Zone
    • Grant Beacon
    • Kepner Beacon
  • Northeast Denver Innovation Zone
    • Swigert International School
    • McAuliffe Manual Middle School
    • McAuliffe International School
    • Northfield High School
  • Montbello Children’s Network
    • McGlone
    • John H. Amesse

Charter Management Organizations:

  • Rocky Mountain Prep
  • Denver School of Science and Technology
  • Strive Prep
  • University Prep
Back

Our Team

Nate Easley

Chief Executive Officer

Nate Easley

Nate joined RootED (Formerly known as Blue School Partners) as its founding CEO in October 2017, after nearly a decade as CEO of the Denver Scholarship Fund. From 2009 to 2013, he served as an elected board member for Denver Public Schools, including terms as President and Secretary. He has extensive experience working at the state, national and international levels to create opportunities for first-generation, low-income and ethnic minority students. He is a proud graduate of Denver’s Montbello High School.

Bernard McCune

Chief Portfolio and Talent Officer

Bernard McCune

Bernard comes to RootED from the Oakland Unified School District, where he served as Deputy Chief of Post-Secondary Readiness, providing leadership for district schools, principal supervisors, and principals implementing college and career initiatives. From 2012 to 2014, Bernard held a similar role in Denver Public Schools as head of the Office of College and Career Readiness. Prior to that, Bernard spent nearly a decade working in Chicago Public Schools, where he teamed with then-Superintendent Arne Duncan to create what became a national model for increasing college access and success among low-income students, and with then-Senator Barack Obama to increase federal funding for district initiatives to increase post-secondary readiness.

Victoria Scott-Haynes

Office Manager/Executive Assistant to the CEO

Victoria Scott-Haynes

Victoria comes to BSP from Denver Public Schools, where she most recently worked as executive assistant to the Chief of Staff. She was born and raised in Denver, and attended East High School and UC Boulder.  She is a veteran community leader and political strategist who has played pivotal roles on many successful campaigns, including those of Mayor Michael Hancock, DPS Board President Nate Easley, Gov. Bill Ritter, President Barack Obama, and – as a young girl – Lt. Gov. George Brown, who became the first African-American elected to a statewide office in 1975. She has earned numerous awards for her efforts, including the Tribute to Black Youth Award for Outstanding Community Service and a Women Making History award from the Colorado Black Women for Political Action.

TeRay Esquibel

Director of Community Empowerment

TeRay Esquibel

TeRay Esquibel is a DPS graduate. He was awarded the Daniels Fund Scholarship that afforded him the opportunity to attend the University of Denver. While attending DU, TeRay dedicated himself to breaking down barriers to higher education within his community. TeRay went on to participate and work in the El Pomar Foundation Fellowship program. Most recently, TeRay worked as an Admission Counselor at the University of Denver serving Denver and Aurora Public Schools. In this role, TeRay engaged with Denver Public Schools, and its community, to empower students (and their families) on their journey to furthering their educational horizons by acting as a liaison for the the university and external organizations dedicated to increasing the enrollment and persistence rates for students coming from traditionally underrepresented communities throughout Denver

Thomas Leonard

Director of Investment Strategy

Thomas Leonard

Thomas joined RootED in July of 2018 after working at the Boston Consulting Group for two years, where he worked in a number of industries and did pro bono work in education.  Prior to these roles, he served as an infantry officer in the United States Army for eight years, leading soldiers in both conventional and Ranger units in Iraq and Afghanistan.  He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the United States Military Academy and a Master of Business Administration degree from Harvard Business School