Urban Update | November – December 2016
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Events and Happenings
Westwood Neighborhood Celebrates as a recipient of GOCO’s $2.7 Million Grant
The Westwood neighborhood, located in Southwest Denver, was the recent recipient of a $2.7 million grant from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO). Westwood Unidos, a local community organization in the Westwood community, is the true recipient of the grant, and plans to use the proceeds to directly benefit Westwood’s youth.
“With this grant I can finally see a community that will be greener, youth who will be outside and a healthier way of living,” said Noemi Enriquez, a member of youth in Westwood. “I can go camping, and go to national parks like the Grand Canyon!”
David Lopez, ULC’s Youth and Outreach Coordinator, was thrilled upon hearing the news that the youth he works with day in and day out will be directly benefiting from the funding. Westwood Unidos was first awarded $100,000 through GOCO’s pilot program, and then applied for the $2.7 million grant last November.
“The whole idea is to break the stereotype of race and nature,” Lopez explained. “Westwood will break that barrier through education within the minority community.”
ULC has many individuals and organizations to thank for supporting Westwood Unidos and helping make this funding a reality. We anticipate great accomplishments supported from this grant and look forward to many celebrations in Westwood!
Prodigy Coffeehouse Brings New Meaning to Apprenticeship Program
Prodigy Coffeehouse, a nonprofit coffeehouse near ULC’s Park Hill Village West, was once a Grease Monkey Auto body shop that now offers paid apprenticeship programs to 16-24 year old youth in northeast Denver. The idea behind Prodigy came from Stephanie Frances, who after spending 10 years working in alternative schooling for Denver Public Schools, noticed a massive disconnect between students and modern day education.
“Prodigy is an education infused workplace that allows youth to study a craft and deeply learn skills that can then translate into the professional world,” Frances explained. “We’re infusing concepts around cognitive psychology. The work place is so organically set up in alignment with how we learn.”
The apprenticeship program, which lasts for one year, not only teaches youth barista skills – but is aimed to help them excel in their futures. Prodigy has done a tremendous job engaging community during their first few months in business (They opened in June, 2016) and ULC looks forward to seeing the success of their apprenticeship program moving forward! And their coffee is fantastic!
Nokero Sheds Light on a World Living Without Electricity
Nokero, a company headquartered in ULC’s Tramway Nonprofit Center, creates solar light bulbs for those living without electricity. According to the Washington Post, the number of people living without electricity was 1.3 billion in 2015. Nokero, which is short for “no kerosene”, has the ability to mass produce up to 10,000 light fixtures in one single day. They are then able to provide solar lighting for up to 750,000 people in just one single shipping container.
Steve Katsaros, the founder of Nokero, admitted that his original intent was to create a company based in U.S. markets that focused on construction sites without electricity. But when he learned about the devastating effects and monumental cost of kerosene, his model changed.
To date, Steve, his brother Chris Katsaros (who joined the team after its founding) and the rest of the Nokero team are making waves in the world of sustainable energy as the company has worked across the globe, in countries ranging from Indonesia to Guatemala. The company even won the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s “Patents for Humanity” in 2013. Moving forward, Steve said he hopes to double Nokero’s business in 2017. ULC is looking forward to seeing the continued impact Nokero makes across the globe this year!
SOS Outreach – ULC’s Newest Tenant – Educates Denver Youth on Leadership and Integrity
SOS Outreach, a nonprofit dedicated to youth engagement outdoors, serves at-risk youth and teaches them the fundamentals of skiing, snowboarding, backpacking and an array of outdoor activities to encourage youth development and leadership skills.
As a tenant of the Tramway Nonprofit Center years ago, ULC is excited to welcome SOS Outreach back as a tenant! SOS now has five full time and five satellite offices throughout the States. And for all the work they do each year, SOS manages to keep a relatively small staff size. Max Keleman, the Front Range Program Director for SOS Outreach, is one of three Front Range employees, and his territory served 2,200 kids this year alone.
SOS offers a range of programs for youth under the age of 18, and focuses heavily on teaching students the fundamentals of their six core values: courage, discipline, integrity, wisdom, humility and compassion. We are thrilled to share that SOS was recently recognized for their impressive work, winning Gatorade’s nationwide “For the Love of Sports” campaign at the end of 2016! This $50,000 prize will make a huge impact for SOS, and will go directly towards their youth outreach programs.
ULC is thrilled to be working with this amazing organization again, and we look forward to their future successes at Tramway Nonprofit Center. You can learn more about the organization at www.sosoutreach.org.
ULC Celebrates Accomplishments of our Partners
Northeast Transportation Connections
Every month ULC showcases the incredible work of a partner organization who shares in our mission of improving lives and making a positive impact in the Denver region. For our November Partner Spotlight, we highlighted our 303 ArtWay partner, Northeast Transportation Connections (NETC).
With a mission to increase neighborhood sustainability, reduce pollution and encourage healthy living, NETC has remained dedicated towards the promotion of alternative forms of transportation. In order to decrease the number of single-occupant cars throughout metro Denver, NETC focuses their energy on increasing biking, transit use, walking and carpool alternatives.
In order to teach residents about using alternate modes of transportation, NETC focuses on helping people change their habits. They provide free group trips to help residents ease into the idea of utilizing our city’s alternate modes of transportation. These trips help residents overcome barriers that often lead them to choosing the most convenient option: driving.
NETC is also partnering with ULC and Platte Forum on 303 ArtWay, an art, heritage and culture trail in Northeast Denver. The proposed nine-mile pedestrian and bike friendly loop is an art-themed urban trail starting at the 40th and Colorado commuter rail stop on the University of Colorado A Line and will run through the Greater Park Hill neighborhood as well as the adjacent Elyria/Swansea, Clayton, Cole and City Park neighborhoods. Thank you for your partnership NETC, and your commitment to making Denver a healthier and more sustainable city!
Holly Square Redevelopment
For our December Partner Spotlight of the month, ULC chose to celebrate the final phase of redevelopment at Holly Square in Northeast Park Hill. ULC worked with the community to redevelop the Holly, following the devastating fire in 2008. With the support of Denver’s Office of Economic Development (OED) and The Denver Foundation’s Strengthening Neighborhoods program (SN), ULC’s vision to revitalize the Holly with direct participation from nonprofit stakeholders and residents of the Northeast Park Hill community became a reality.
Once ULC oversaw demolition of the burned structures on the site, the Holly Area Redevelopment Project (HARP) was created in partnership with SN and the Hope Center to act as a community visioning process. HARP began hosting regular community wide meetings to gather input from local residents, and hired a local planning group, Community by design to help with visioning of the Holly redevelopment. For ULC, learning what community members envisioned in their neighborhood – versus a developer telling them what they needed – was essential.
Today, after multiple phases of redevelopment and nearly $15 million in direct investment, Holly Square is complete. The Boys and Girls Club Nancy P. Anschutz Center, which was made possible by a generous donation from the Anschutz Foundation and the Roots Elementary are now part of the community. ULC celebrated the final phase of development with the completion of the Holly Square overlook. This outdoor space, complete with solar lighting from Nokero and construction by nonprofit Colorado Construction Institute, has truly brought the work of ULC and its partners full circle.