At Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF), we often say, “it takes a community to make college possible.” More than a mantra, we see this statement in action every day, whether we are helping a student and their family navigate through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or hosting mock interviews with DSF Scholars and Denver businesses. Did you know that, if you live or shop in Denver, you help make college possible every day, too?
A model for community support
In 2018, Denver became the first city in the nation to pass an ordinance to commit funds collected from a small .08% sales tax to expanding Denver students’ access to postsecondary education. This means that every retail purchase made in Denver helps support our community’s students as they pursue a brighter future for themselves, their families, and our community.
As a result of the ordinance, the Prosperity Denver Fund was created to distribute partial reimbursements to eligible nonprofits, up to 75%, for postsecondary education scholarships and academic support services offered to qualifying Denver students. These nonprofits, known as supported organizations, then use the funds to increase their impact, providing access to higher education for more students, fostering even stronger student success outcomes, and driving economic mobility that builds the future of Denver. DSF is one of more than two dozen supported organizations that currently receive partial reimbursement from the Prosperity Denver Fund.
“DSF operates to build an onramp for our community’s most valuable assets—our area students—to have access to success,” said DSF chief executive officer Lorii Rabinowitz. “DSF is grateful to partner with Prosperity Denver Fund, which is made possible by the wholehearted support of our community, in expanding the reach of our scholars who are historically under-represented in postsecondary institutions of higher education—to and through college completion, and beyond, into prosperous careers. Our DSF Scholars are thriving, and this newly minted public-private partnership ensures that even more students will have opportunity to realize their dreams of a college degree or certificate.”
Greenhouse Scholars, another organization supported by the Prosperity Denver Fund, says that reimbursement through the Prosperity Denver Fund has allowed them to expand their reach and serve even more students in Denver.
“As an education nonprofit that is based in Colorado and currently serves dozens of students from Denver, the Prosperity Denver Fund is an important and innovative initiative that extends our ability to serve more deserving young leaders,” said Pete Burridge, Greenhouse Scholars’ president and chief executive officer. “We are excited to take part in this groundbreaking public policy approach to increasing social equity and building strong communities for the future.”
From public policy to personal impact
As a result of public support for organizations like DSF and Greenhouse Scholars, students are better equipped to break through common barriers on their journey to and through college.
For Nethania Montserrat Ruiz Escobar, a junior in college and a participant of the Colorado I Have a Dream Foundation (CIHAD) program, what started as a dream of becoming an architect became a reality with help from the program. Through her involvement with CIHAD, Nethania first met with an architect in fourth grade to learn more about the basics of architecture. These meetings helped solidify Nethania’s goal, and CIHAD continued to work to help bring college within reach.
“CIHAD allowed me to visit colleges in Colorado as well as out of state,” said Nethania. “During my high school years, CIHAD allowed me to have internships in the summer in order to get experience in the architecture field and learn about civil engineering. These internship experiences also allowed me to learn how to network in professional settings which was very helpful now that I am in college. Up to this day, I am very grateful for CIHAD as they keep supporting me as a junior in college. Their support has been essential to my college dreams.”
Expanding pathways to a brighter future for Denver
While each supported organization reimbursed by the Prosperity Denver Fund is different, all share the goal of making postsecondary education attainable for students in Denver. Through the pay-for-performance model, nonprofits can leverage funds to serve even more students.
“Our Puksta Scholarship is awarded to students who have both a financial need for attending college along with a passion for giving back to their communities by addressing a wide-range of urgent social justice issues,” said NiChel Mulstay, director of development and community outreach for the Puksta Foundation. “The partnership with Prosperity Denver Fund has provided our foundation with a clear and immediate opportunity to expand our giving and create an even wider path forward for students from Denver to become Puksta Scholars. There is no doubt that our partnership with Prosperity Denver Fund has enhanced our ability to expand our work significantly into the Denver area.”
Our Denver community is stronger through collaborations like Prosperity Denver Fund. To learn more about other Supported Organizations that Prosperity Denver Fund supports, visit www.ProsperityDenverFund.org/supported-organizations.