The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated longstanding academic achievement gaps, reinforcing barriers to learning for students of color, LGBTQ+ students, students experiencing housing or food insecurity, students with disabilities, English language learners and other historically underserved populations. Disparities in student performance most commonly begin at the elementary level and often hold steady in the years that follow, making early interventions essential to improving long-term outcomes for those furthest from opportunity.
In an effort to mitigate the impacts of school closures, inconsistent access to technology and other COVID-related disruptions, the 2020-21 Rose Youth Foundation (RYF) cohort granted $60,000 to two nonprofit organizations and one school district in Metro Denver working to advance equitable outcomes for elementary-aged students.
Rose Youth Foundation is a youth-led initiative of Rose Community Foundation that empowers Jewish teens to use the tools of strategic philanthropy to make a difference in the Greater Denver Community. Each year, RYF members work together to explore community issues, determine a funding priority and ultimately deploy grant dollars to improve the local community.
The 2021 grant recipients all advance programs aimed at removing barriers to learning and supporting innovative solutions that keep young students and their families on-track for life-long success.
- Glowmundo received $10,000 to strengthen social and emotional learning for 4th and 5th grade students at Peoria Elementary, as well as equity training for staff and teachers to develop culturally responsive instruction practices and equitable school policies.
- The “I Have a Dream Foundation” of Boulder County received $10,000 to support four cohorts of elementary-aged Dreamer Scholars, with the goal of empowering children from underserved communities to meet their goals and succeed.
- Westminster Public Schools received $40,000 to support a reading summer camp for elementary-aged students to help them maintain or exceed their reading grade level over the summer break.
“The members felt a certain proximity to this issue,” explains Emily Kornhauser, the Foundation’s director of collaborative philanthropy. “After a prolonged period of virtual and hybrid learning and increased emotional and mental health challenges for students, RYF members wanted to ensure that youth who are furthest from opportunity have access to necessary supports in the years to come.”
Through meetings over eight months, the teen members of the 20th RYF cohort discussed their shared Jewish values, learned about emerging community needs, reviewed grant proposals and met with nonprofit organizations. Grant decisions were made by consensus and guided by the members’ shared Jewish values of Save Life, Pikuach Nefesh; Give in Pursuit of Justice, Tzedakah; and Transforming the World, Tikkun Olam.
“This process opened my eyes to important issues and the amazing organizations that help address them,” shares RYF member Lucy Foster, a student at George Washington High School. “It was an incredible experience and I feel lucky to have been part of this program.”
Jacob Pomerantz, a student at Denver Jewish Day School, adds, “Rose Youth Foundation gave me the opportunity to influence real change in the world. I discovered a passion for grantmaking and nonprofit work that has impacted who I am and who I will become. I only wish the program was longer.”
Rose Community Foundation is currently recruiting for the next cohort of Rose Youth Foundation. To nominate a teen, please complete this form by July 1. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about the program, please contact us.
In 2011, Rose Community Foundation launched a campaign to endow Rose Youth Foundation with a goal of $2 million to permanently fund the program. To support the endowment, please visit our donation page and select Rose Youth Foundation.