Denver Kids Creates New Career Opportunities with $100,000 Opus Foundation® Grant

Many industries, including construction, are facing significant labor shortages. Denver Kids is working to address that.

With a $100,000 grant from the Opus Foundation​® and support from our associates, Denver Kids is creating the Community Engagement Partnership Program (CEPP). The CEPP is a public-school-based program that will introduce underrepresented youth to career options and pair them with adult role models.

Denver Kids' Whole-Child Approach

For more than 75 years, Denver Kids has provided social, emotional and academic support to students in Denver Public School (DPS). The organization serves students who experience the challenges of higher-risk environments, helping them graduate and plan for their futures.

“We help students succeed and graduate," said Michelle Maldonado, Vice President of Development for Denver Kids. “We are unique because students can be with us for seven or eight years. This long-term relationship helps us understand their needs, and we can address each student individually."

In 2021, the nonprofit served nearly 1,000 students in 111 schools. The students had an 85% on-time graduation rate and an 84% post-secondary pursuit/acceptance rate.

Denver Kids' success is due to integration in the schools and a whole-child approach. Educational Counselors work with the students and their parents, school and mentors to discuss and address the students' needs. Denver Kids also connects families to resources for basic needs and mental health and crisis management.

CEPP Exposes Youth to Careers and Positive Adult Role Models

Denver Kids is creating a Community Engagement Partnership Program at Career Education Center (CEC) Early College, a career-oriented Denver public high school with 19 career pathways. The program will help students forge relationships with adult role models and learn about career opportunities.​

The grant will allow Denver Kids to hire an Educational Counselor and grow the CEC program to 50 students in 2023.

To build-out the construction track, the counselor is working with the Associated General Contractors of Colorado and our team, including Project Executive Nick Lauters, who serves on Denver Kids' board of directors. Volunteers will brainstorm activities to introduce students to careers and will lead activities like career exploration days, resume building and construction site visits.

“With their evidence-based programming and commitment to student success, Denver Kids has been a tremendous partner through the years," said Kristin Ridley​, Executive Director of the Opus Foundation. “This grant will elevate efforts even further as we work together to introduce youth to careers in Opus industries and hopefully inspire a pipeline of future talent."

“This program has meaningful impact because it exposes kids to career pathways that they may not have been exposed to otherwise," said Nick Lauters, Project Executive. “It will also allow us to create healthy, personal relationships with them as positive mentors."

“We are grateful for Opus' deep commitment to Denver Kids and to our students," Maldonado said. “In addition to financial support, they are putting their feet on the ground and want to have a direct impact on students' lives. By sharing their expertise and volunteering their time, they are investing in the Denver community for the long term."

The Opus Foundation has long supported Denver Kids, awarding the organization nearly $400,000 in grants since 2013.


The Opus Foundation®​ is the corporate foundation for Opus and is building community for a better tomorrow by supporting projects and programs that make our communities better places to live, work and raise families. The Foundation is committed to improving conditions that disproportionately affect historically underinvested individuals and communities by resourcing key focus areas of early childhood education, youth development, workforce development, community revitalization and pressing/emerging needs. Read more about the Foundation's work. The Opus Foundation is a separate entity from The Opus Group and is led by its own Board of Directors.