Since its founding, RootED Denver has provided funding and strategic support to schools, community-based organizations and programs that, like us, are deeply committed to partnering with students, families, educators and communities to co-create learning environments and experiences that advance racial equity, and are culturally responsive, rigorous, and effective.
As we reflect on the work funded and supported in 2021-22, it is remarkable to see the measurable and profound impact our partners in education have had on students, families, educators and communities in the Denver Metro Area. Throughout our annual impact report, you’ll learn more about some of the innovative work we are proud to be a part of, and how that work aligns with our values.
Learn more about our full impact & read about our partners on our interactive report.
Right now, there’s a summer camp taking place in Denver that focuses on the Black experience, educating children on topics you might not see in the textbook.
FOX31 visited the 5280 Freedom School in the Five Points neighborhood on Tuesday afternoon to learn more about its history and hopes of expanding.
The summer camp is named after Denver’s chapter of Black Lives Matter and started in 2018 with 14 kids attending the camp for half-days for one week. Now, in 2022, it’s grown to more than 60 children and has a waitlist to attend. This year’s two-week camp started on Monday, July 11, and runs until July 22.
Program Director Marissa Chandler explains the summer camp as an experience of passion, acceptance and education.
“They love it,” Chandler said. “To bring Black children together, especially in areas where they don’t really have these kinds of spaces, and to provide them with education that they’re not going to get at school. It’s a space to be themselves and to explore their identities and to be free of racism. We make them feel love and seen.”
Watch the story from FOX31.
Aired on July 12, 2022.
RootED partnered with Eschbacher Consulting to take a deep dive into enrollment data to better understand the overall causes of low enrollment in Denver. Brian Eschbacher is the former Denver Public Schools Executive Director of Planning and Enrollment. You can read more about his local and national work at Eschbacher Consulting.
The report overviews:
- City-wide factors impacting the student population
- Enrollment trends to neighboring districts and peer cities nationwide
- Connection of city-wide student population to school-level enrollment
- Emerging elementary and middle school enrollment sustainability insights
Key Denver Enrollment Insights
- Elementary enrollment has declined more than 5,000 students since 2016, the equivalent of 17 average-sized elementary schools.
- Declines are primarily due to fewer children living in Denver, a result of the lowest birth rates in U.S. history combined with the among highest housing prices in Denver’s history. These factors are largely outside DPS’s control.
- Declining student populations are a trend also seen in nearly all of Denver’s suburban school districts as well as peer urban districts across the county.
- Enrollment is forecast to decline another 4,000 students, with declines impacting elementary (~2,000), middle (~2,300) and will soon start to impact high schools.
- The west side and near downtown will be heavily impacted. Given more than half of families participate in a form of school choice, lower demand schools will also be particularly impacted by fewer students.
- To meet sustainable enrollment levels given enrollment trends, there likely need to be a sizable number (20+) of consolidations, primarily elementary schools on the west side and closer to downtown. Extensive community engagement will need to occur to support tough decision-making and ensure vulnerable students are able to access higher-quality schools.
* The report will soon be available in Spanish.
Common Questions on Declining Enrollment in Denver
Click on the button below to download common questions about declining enrollment in Denver.
As we come towards the end of another year, RootED Denver is continuing to focus on the incredible work done by our grantees in support of students and community towards a more equitable future for Denver Public Schools (DPS) students. We are inspired by the stories in our community and are grateful to support schools and organizations committed to improving academic outcomes for kids and enriching the communities they live in.
Our Annual Impact Report is our way of celebrating those stories and highlighting the impact these organizations have in our community. Features include stories from graduating students, Innovation School partners, community-focused organizations and a historical video about the Cole neighborhood with special guests.
Read more at RootEDdenver.org/annualreport-2021.
A year-long community research initiative led through the PEACE Collective reveals that Brown, Black, and Indigenous students and their families in DPS care deeply about quality and equity in public education, and envision a school district that offers equal access to everything that they need to thrive.
RootED Denver commissioned the research to examine and report the perspectives of students and families throughout DPS on what quality and equity mean to them. It found: “To be culturally responsive and just, the DPS system must acknowledge, account for, and address differential experiences and needs based on racial and socioeconomic injustice.”
The researchers, who mirror the ethnic diversity of the district, collaborated to determine how the inquiry would be conducted, and then finalized the questions to gain the most insight from the community.
Participants were recruited through community organizations that include: Colorado Youth Congress, FaithBridge, Project VOYCE, Transform Education Now (TEN), and Young Aspiring Americans for Social and Political Activism (YAASPA). YAASPA led the coalition in executing the study.
The Community Views on Quality and Equity in Education report was released at the DPS Candidate Workshop hosted by YAASPA at Montbello High School. Researchers explained the report and detailed how they hoped this important information, directly from the voice of the community, would aid in the support of equitable outcomes for all students. Youth leaders then hosted discussions with Board of Education candidates about topics related to the report and had small group discussions with students and adults alike to problem solve on certain issues.
This project is timely, in light of the district’s efforts to develop a new strategic plan with a new Board of Education, which involves community input and asks community members about characteristics of a DPS graduate, the meaning of educational equity, and actions the district should take to improve education for students.
The report makes ten recommendations, including ensuring consistency across and within DPS schools for equitable, quality rigorous education, and improving parent/family communication, support, and opportunities for learning and growth. As we share this information with Superintendent Dr. Alex Marrero, and other district leadership, we hope it guides the strategic vision for the district towards a future where every child in Denver has access to an education that enables them to pursue the path of their choice.
Executive Summary – Community Views on Quality and Equity in Education
View the executive summary of Community Views on Quality and Equity in Education.
Full Report – Community Views on Quality and Equity in Education
View the full report of Community Views on Quality and Equity in Education.
Webinar on Community Views on Quality and Equity in Education
In December 2021 RootED Denver hosted a virtual community conversation to dive into the report Community Views on Quality and Equity in Education. We heard directly from the report researchers about the year-long research initiative led through the PEACE Collective which reveals that Brown, Black, and Indigenous students and their families in DPS care deeply about quality and equity in public education, and envision a school district that offers equal access to everything that they need to thrive.
The webinar covered the report’s core recommendations and the researchers discussed with the community how this information can support equitable outcomes for all students. Denver Public Schools—Colorado’s largest school district is on the path to create a new strategic plan and this report will help shape the future for our kids. Panelist included:
- María del Carmen Salazar, Ph.D.
- Antwan Jefferson, Ph.D.
- Brenda J. Allen, Ph.D.
- Tracie Trinidad, MNM
Informed by a process of regional community dialogues hosted by community members throughout Denver, CO in February and March 2020, this report was developed to address the ways in which families of Denver Public Schools (DPS; the District) students make decisions about their children’s education and options for schooling. The researchers were interested in knowing whether the information provided to parents by DPS included the types of information that families consider valuable or important to their decision-making. Additionally, because DPS has begun a process of rethinking its School Performance Framework, this report reflects a coordinated effort to hear from a range of community members, families of DPS students, to understand more broadly what types of information are useful to families, including, but not limited to, the SPF.
Purpose/Objective: Our purpose was to discover, understand, and report genuine perspectives of families throughout the City, representing the various types of information used to make schooling/educational decisions for their children. Another purpose was to encourage high authenticity while minimizing control of the environment or the nature of the discussion. By working with a range of community members and organizations throughout Denver, we sought to gather authentic perspectives that were not influenced by unfamiliar or potentially disruptive influences, trusting instead that community dialogue can be a resource for informing public education systems. We also hoped to engage a wide and diverse set of perspectives–another benefit of working with community organizations–to find opportunities to learn and uncover underlying needs that prevent, or encourage quality schools in Denver.
One question guided our inquiry, and this same question was used as a prompt for each regional community conversation: What information do you rely on or wish to have in making school decisions for your children?
This report synthesizes the combined conversations of families in communities throughout the Denver city area.