New School Development and Equity
Thursday, December 19, 2019
By Jen Savino Ph.D., M.Ed.
Director of New School Development
Colorado charter schools are diverse by design. Across Colorado charter schools, there are over 20 primary types of educational programs and over 30 types of supplemental educational programs. These programs are being adapted to an extraordinarily diverse cross-section of populations and communities by charter schools with the autonomy to govern and manage in responsive ways.
At the League, it is interesting to observe a school develop from inception to the opening of its doors, where decisions are made to serve unique needs and actions are taken to meet those needs. There are quite a few charter schools in the pipeline of development, which are being strategically designed to purposely serve diverse student and community needs and priorities.
Three of these schools include the American Indian Academy of Denver, French American School of Denver, and Visions Performing Arts College Prep. All three schools have a commitment to ethnic and socioeconomic diversity, educational equity, and an intentional focus on populations traditionally underserved in public education. In addition, the organization Moonshot edVentures and their Fellowship Program participants are influencing the diversity of Denver Metro’s educational leaders and the expansion of high-quality options offered to our students.
American Indian Academy of Denver
American Indian Academy of Denver (AIAD) was approved in spring 2018 by Denver Public Schools (DPS) to open its doors in fall 2020 and eventually grow to serve students in grades 6-12. AIAD is being specifically developed to address the unmet needs of American Indian and Latino students in the Denver metro area – who have historically experienced a disparity in access to quality schools and resources.
French American School of Denver
The French American School of Denver (FAS-Denver) was approved in spring 2019 by DPS to open in fall of 2020, eventually building out to serve students in grades K-8. FAS-Denver’s mission is to develop bilingual, bi-literate learners through a French language- immersion curriculum meeting the highest educational standards of the U.S. and France and delivered in a diverse learning environment that promotes critical thinking, creativity and empathy.
Visions Performing Arts College Prep
Visions Performing Arts College Prep (VPAC) was approved in fall 2019 by the Colorado Charter Schools Institute (CSI) to open in Aurora in the fall of 2020, expanding to serve students in grades 6-12. The Vision of VPAC is to enlighten students, especially African and Latinx underserved students, with the importance of integrating high levels of artistic and academic skills and knowledge. By fulfilling this vision, VPAC seeks to increase graduation rates, decrease dropout rates, and provide greater opportunities for graduates to enter competitive performing arts careers, institutions of higher learning, and career fields while affirming and preserving their cultural heritage.
Moonshot edVentures Fellowship Showcase Schools
Moonshot edVentures has a goal of diversifying education in Colorado. Its mission is to surface and support a diverse pipeline of leaders to design and launch the learning environments of tomorrow.
edVentures’ Moonshot Fellowship Program allows individuals to explore designing and launching a new learning environment, such as a new school or program. The three-stage program focuses on: (1) leadership development by designing and piloting a learning environment alongside communities; (2) identifying and supporting Fellows on the best pathway to launch; and (3) facilitating connections to local and national networks. Through the program, Fellows develop as leaders alongside like-minded individuals.
To date, Moonshot has supported 48 Fellows to design and lead charter schools, micro-schools, district turnaround schools, and after-school programs. For example, the founder of Visions Performing Arts College Prep was a Moonshot Fellow. Throughout the Fellowship, Moonshot Fellows build their entrepreneurial muscle while exploring their leadership of people, instruction, strategy and operations.
On Thursday, December 12, 2019, Moonshot edVentures hosted its third Moonshot Fellowship Showcase, where current participants in the Fellowship Program present their “pitches.” Of the 16 pitches, three were for unique charter schools including:
Hope Community Charter School aims to close existing achievement and healthcare gaps for low-income and minority populations by infusing a community-based health center with a high-performing high school.
STEAM and International Sisterhood (S.I.S.) Academy, proposed to open in fall 2022, will inspire and embolden girls to be academically excellent, personally empowered, globally minded, and locally concerned through liberating education.
Victory will be a high school that builds student resilience and life skills through extracurricular activities, supporting students in becoming champions in the game of life.
Learn more about Moonshot edVentures here.