K-12 Education & Youth Organizing

Colorado College has a deep and broad history of supporting college readiness and the pathways of local youth to career and college. CC’s engagement with K-12 education in the Pike’s Peak region spans work with our community partners, direct work in area schools, and our college access programs. These programs are supported and furthered by the school’s acclaimed Masters of Arts in Teaching program and education department.  

How to Get Involved

Issue Organizer: Luke Ortiz-Grabe

Stay Informed:

Join the CCE K-12 & Youth Organizing Outlook Group!

Register for the K-12 Education & Youth Organizing Coalition Meetings.

Take action:

Active Engagement Opportunities

Active PEAK Inquiry Projects

Current State of the Issue at CC


  • Student Organizations Engaged in K12 Education 
    • A number of student-led organizations, listed  here  participate in direct work with local area schools. Student organizations engage with schools in a variety of ways, from on-site tutoring to groups that bring students onto CC’s campus for unique mentorship experiences.
  • Public Achievement 
    • Public Achievement (PA) is a youth civic engagement program in which college students guide local middle schoolers through the process of researching and organizing around issues they identify in their communities. The program was developed in 1990 by the Center for Democracy and Citizenship at the University of Minnesota (now at Augsburg College) and is informed by and indebted to the organizing practices of the Civil Rights Movement. PA strives to center the voices, identities, and agency of youth as they work to enact local change, recognizing that youth impacted by oppression have the most transformative visions for justice.   
    • At Colorado College, PA students lead programming that promotes the voices of students at North Middle School through organizing around place-based social issues. Our coaches work with youth to research and carry out projects that make meaningful impacts in their communities and build civic skills to work towards justice throughout their lives.


    • Below is a map of the schools and community organizations with whom Colorado College partners toward college access goals.  


  • The Stroud Scholars Program
    • CC’s newest college prep and access program is the Stroud Scholars program, which honors the legacy of two of the earliest African-American students to graduate from Colorado College, siblings Kelley Dolphus Stroud ’31 and Effie Stroud Frazier ’31. Colorado Springs area students who are accepted to the program participate in summer courses at Colorado College and mentorship from CC students throughout the academic year. Full participation in the program allows scholars direct admission to Colorado College. 
  • The College Experience
    • The College Experience is the new iteration of the successful El  Pomar  College Readiness and Success Program. Pikes Peak area high school students are prepared for college through a series of workshops designed to address a range of topics including college success, self-advocacy, financial literacy, pre-collegiate resources, and retention. This comprehensive series consists of four workshops held throughout  the year at Colorado College, the University of Colorado  Colorado  Springs, Pikes Peak Community College, and the U.S. Air Force Academy.   
  • Educating Children of Color (High Impact Partner)
    • Since 2008, Colorado College has served as a host and key sponsor of the Educating Children of Color conference. The goal of the conference is to encourage all youth to pursue higher education, to support teachers to be successful educators, educate parents on what it takes to be college-ready, and increase accountability in education. 
  • Project VOYCE    
    • Founded by youth in Denver in 2006 and is currently directed by CC alumna Vanessa Roberts (‘08). Their mission is to: “partner with youth to  cultivate  transformational leadership that addresses the root causes of inequity in underrepresented communities by training, employing, organizing,  and building equitable youth-adult partnerships,” and they have organized campaigns surrounding youth voting and emergency food relief in response to COVID-19, among many others.  
  • African American Youth Leadership Conference
    • The African American Youth Leadership Conference committee has strategically partnered with Colorado College since 1994. The mission of the annual conference is to educate, empower, and enlighten youth to become critical thinkers and responsible citizens, and to embrace the traditions, histories, and cultures of their communities. Each March, approximately 600 youth from grades 6-12 gather on campus.
  • Summer PreCollege Program
    • Colorado College Summer Session invites rising high school juniors and seniors to join the CC community in the summer. Students can enroll in dynamic courses offered on subjects ranging from environmental science and geological field study of Pikes Peak, to feminist and critical media studies, and cross-genre writing. CC’s Summer Session provides students with a rich opportunity to explore challenging academics, get inspired by the wondrous Rocky Mountain Region, and be supported by faculty that are invested in their success.
    • High school students also have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the rhythm of the Block Plan (CC’s unique academic system) with current Colorado College students in Block A and Block B, or our Pre-College Block, which is specially designed for ambitious high school students.



  • Watch the K-12 Education Coalition Issue Panel, from Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021.
    • Facilitated by Laila Marshall '21
    • Panelists:
      • Amy Sanchez-Martinez, Sand Creek High School Campus Director
      • Regina Walter, Educating Children of Color
      • Eric Dallesasse, CC Alum
      • Anna Sofia Vera, CC student
      • Addie Knight, Stroud Scholars Paraprofessional
      • Tina Valtierra, CC Faculty
  • Watch the Youth Organizing Coalition Issue Panel, from Monday, Feb. 15, 2021.
    • Facilitated by Emma Olsen '21
    • Panelists:
      • Dayana Ayala, Former Mitchell Student
      • Mariana Pascual, Former Mitchell Student
      • Danny Zamudio, CC Student
      • Karla Iruegas, CC Student
      • Tina Valtierra, CC Faculty
  • If you're a CC student interested in working with local youth check out this Zoom recording of a panel discussion facilitated by the CO chapter of the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME) and hosted by CC Professor Tina Valtierra.

Podcasts & Books

  1. Nice White Parents
    • A 5-part podcast series that covers the history of a Brooklyn-based public school over the course of 60+ years. It offers an in-depth, well-analyzed story about the racial inequities that remain central in our U.S. public school system and the ways we may begin to address these issues, together. With insightful discussion on modern-day school segregation and failed political and organizing efforts, and special attention to the role that middle-aged white parents play in the way our public schools run in the U.S., this podcast is certain to captivate your interest and catapult your involvement in education-based pursuits.
  2. Making the Grade
    • This podcast by Dr. Laurie Santos, part of her podcast series called “The Happiness Lab,” explores the idea that external motivators (like academic grades, candy rewards for kids, etc.) are not actually helping us be successful.
  3. "What will the new school year look like? Start with unequal
    • Podcast episode from Kamau Bell’s United Shades of America
  4. The Knowledge Gap
    • This book by Natalie Wexler focuses on a long-overlooked issue lying at the heart of what is known as the achievement gap: the failure of most elementary schools, and especially those serving low-income children, to systematically build knowledge of the world.
  5. The Teacher Wars
    • This book by Dana Goldstein gives a substantive account of the history of how teachers in the US have been supported, demonized, idealized, and/or pilloried over several centuries. A copy can be found at Tutt Library.  This is also available online as a pdf from a variety of sources.
  6. Creating Innovators
    1. This book by Tony Wagner is an urgent call for the radical re-imagining of American education to better equip students for the reality of the 21st-century economy.  

Websites, Databases & Newsletters

  1.  Rise Get Out the Vote 2020 (Organizing Database)
  2. Emily J. Ozer, “Youth-Led Participatory Action Research,” In L. A. Jason & D. S. Glenwick (Eds.). (2016). Handbook of methodological approaches to community-based research: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  3. Campaign Plan Checklist
  4. National Equity Project (COVID resources)
  5. Kidlit4BlackLives Rally
  • Public Achievement-Specific
  1. Public Achievement Core Concepts
  2. Public Achievement CCE Website
  3. PA video on the project of installing a stoplight 


  • ED131/SO290
    • Cross-listed ED 131/SO 290 Youth Organizing for Social Change is partnering with Project VOYCE (Voices of Youth Creating Equity) where Denver area high school youth are facilitating the following workshops for CC students:
      • Bias, Positionality & Community Work
      • Youth Activism in Education Policy
      • Denver Policing & Community Taskforce
Report an issue - Last updated: 05/18/2022