Metro Denver Partners is celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, founded in 1968 in response to the rapidly rising juvenile delinquency rates in Denver. Their mission to, “promote a safe and growth-oriented environment in which at-risk youth can develop and flourish through friendship and commitment, mentoring and role modeling, education, guidance and family support,” has allowed Metro Denver Partners to serve nearly 17,000 Denver youth to date.
Mary Ann Burdick, the Executive Director of Metro Denver Partners, explained that for the most part their model has remained unchanged. While adjustments and improvements have certainly been made, the idea of one on one community based mentoring remains the steadfast. Burdick, who has served as Executive Director for more than 30 years, spoke towards the success of Partners’ model, and the mentorship program’s ability to provide guidance, discipline and direction for at-risk youth. The model is simple: community members serve as mentors (following a thorough application process and background check), and offer their time for three hours each week for a yearlong minimum commitment.
At the present time, Partners is only matching females, as the program is in need of additional mentors to address their current youth waiting list. At the moment, Partners directly serves 70 youth in the metro Denver area – primarily the Cole, Montbello, Green Valley Ranch and Park Hill communities. The program is open to children ages 8-17 at the time of intake, but Burdick explained that the relationships built between mentors and mentees often goes well beyond the program’s age limits.
Just last year, Burdick ran into one of the program’s past mentees who was matched in 1985. Today, she reported her family is healthy and happy, and she still keeps in touch with her mentor to this day. Their relationship came full circle when her mentor was diagnosed with cancer in the mid 1990’s, and she was there to take care of her during her illness and recovery. Burdick explained that witnessing these relationships extend past the Metro Denver Partners’ program scope is one of the most rewarding aspects of her job.
Aside from their mentoring programs, Partners offers additional year round programming that varies dependent on the time of year. During the school year, youth participate in weekly life skills courses known as “brain skills”. This curriculum includes cognitive skills training, recreational activities, understanding and processing your emotions and building healthy relationships. The latter was in partnership with Planned Parenthood, who worked with the youth on establishing healthy and safe relationships. In the summertime, Partners has longstanding relationships with organizations such as Girl Scouts of Colorado and Young AmeriTowne, who each offer week long youth summer programs. Partners recently launched a six week computer programming course, which has been very popular with their students.
One of Partner’s latest happenings was moving office spaces – for the first time in nearly 50 years. In partnership with one of their subsidiaries – GRASP Enterprises – Metro Denver Partners moved into the Tramway Nonprofit Center in March of 2018. According to Burdick, “we’ve come home, you know. This is where Metro Denver Partners started, this very neighborhood.” Their previous building was sold, which led them to contacting ULC for available nonprofit facility space. In alignment with our mission of providing nonprofits with affordable rental space below market value, we were excited to provide Metro Denver Partners with the opportunity to join our growing list of tenants in Metro Denver. Congratulations on a successful office move, and 50 years supporting metro Denver youth!
If you are interested in learning more about Metro Denver Partner’s mentorship program, you can visit their website here.