Real Talk Grant Makes the Future Brighter for Youth in Denver


​Supporting our communities has always been a core value for us. It inspires our work and expands our impact far beyond the properties we develop and the buildings we create. The Opus Foundation® supports impactful organizations that help people achieve their highest potential—organizations like Denver Urban Scholars (DUS).

The recipient of several Opus Foundation grants, DUS partners with high-performing metro Denver schools located in low income communities to unlock student potential through programs that create pathways to college and career success. DUS was recognized by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce with the 2018 Large Non Profit of the Year award for “meeting youth where they are" through their deep school model. In the last five years, 93% of their students advanced to the next grade level on time, 90% graduated on time and 89% enrolled for post-secondary education.

Opus Foundation Funds Interactive Program

Most recently, DUS received a $40,000 Opus Foundation grant to launch Real Talk, a Colorado Youth at Risk (CYAR) program, within DUS's current programming. 

Long-time partners, DUS and CYAR merged in 2017. Prior to the merger, CYAR implemented Real Talk, a highly interactive program that uses experiential learning to increase social and emotional intelligence and school engagement, at high schools in Colorado. Evaluation results showed positive outcomes in the areas of self-awareness, conflict resolution, critical thinking, problem solving, self-advocacy, relationship building and locus of control. However, CYAR had to discontinue the curriculum due to lack of capacity. Opus Foundation funds will be used to bring Real Talk back into schools, including training for the DUS program team on Real Talk concepts and delivery, as well as modifying the curriculum for middle school students.

“Integrating Real Talk into DUS's deep school model will support our larger effort to promote on-time grade completion, improved attendance, increased graduation rates, higher enrollment in post-secondary education and increased career readiness," said Patrick Byrne, president and CEO of DUS.

Real Talk will be piloted at the KIPP Northeast Denver Middle School (KNDMS) during the 2018 – 2019 school year. DUS is already engaged at the school and has an onsite program manager working closely with students, teachers and administrators on DUS mentoring and case management programs. Real Talk will increase DUS's impact by offering Real Talk to students not currently enrolled in DUS programs. Once the pilot is complete and the program refined, it will be expanded to reach more schools. 

“There's a clear passion for philanthropy at Opus," said Byrne. “They have been representative of a partner in every way, from investing in our programs, to developing a large-scale experience for our youth last summer on a construction site in Denver. Opus associates, including Nick Lauters who volunteers his time on our board, are deeply involved in our mission and passionate about our work with underserved youth." 

The Opus Foundation is building community for a better tomorrow by supporting projects and programs that make our communities better places to live, work and raise families through grants to nonprofit organizations in the areas of early childhood education, youth development, workforce development, community revitalization and pressing/emerging needs. Read more about the Foundation's work.