Kenneth Crowley understands the power of a scholarship.
It’s part of the work he leads at the Crowley Foundation, preparing high school students for college and adulthood, where he serves as executive director.
When he learned about the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation’s flagship program Leadership Denver, his mentor told him it would change his life. But, as a single-income household, he knew it would be a challenge financially. Receiving a scholarship made it possible for Crowley to take part in the 11-month program, which he described as taking him to the next level.
“I felt really honored to be able to be a recipient of the scholarship because the fact that we give scholarships. To see that look on students’ faces and on parents’ faces when you let them know they’re the recipient, I felt like that myself,” Crowley said.
In 2014-15 the Leadership Foundation awarded over $173,000 in scholarships to 108 adult and student participants. At the 2015 Celebrating Civic Leadership Luncheon, the Leadership Foundation’s annual fundraiser, past alumni and community members donated over $55,000, which will go toward the scholarship fund. And, on Dec. 8, donations made to the Leadership Foundation for Colorado Gives Day will also benefit the fund. Scholarships are awarded to participants in all programs and given based on need.
Seeing the Connections
Educator Kate Greeley knew she was interested in attending Leadership Denver to get out of her own silo. The program opened her eyes to how education touches every part of the region.
But, as the sole provider for her family, she was hesitant. Having support from the Leadership Foundation and her employer, Denver Public Schools, helped.
“It was a great opportunity but it allowed me to do something for myself without having to take away from my family,” said Greeley, a principal at Emily Griffith High School.
In addition to making connections about the importance of her work, she also has been able to open new doors of opportunity for her own students. Fellow classmates have taken her students to shadow them at work, exposing them to their industry, and helped them apply for jobs.
“It’s these kids who have been able to make these connections and build a network,” one that they didn’t have before, Greeley said.
Able to Say ‘Yes’
Andrea Stith is changing the way she works with her PhD-candidate students at the University of Colorado BioFrontiers Institute because of her Leadership Denver experience.
And receiving a scholarship to attend the Leadership Foundation program made it possible: “It just made me be able to say, ‘yes, this is something I can do and I will do,’” Stith said.
With a grant-funded position, Karla Maraccini felt the same. Now at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service as a program analyst, she’s thankful for the perspective she received and building strong relationships.
“It will absolutely help you grow,” she said.
When Greeley tells others about Leadership Denver, just as she learned from a friend, she mentions not only that you’ll learn and grow as a leader but also that there’s support for covering the program fee through the scholarship fund.
Charles Gilford saw the camaraderie and culture of Leadership Denver when he attended the graduation party for a class. He knew immediately he wanted to be part of it.
“You could tell this was an organization that really changes lives,” said Gilford, a recruiting operations coordinator for the West Division of Comcast.
Once he was accepted, he was floored. But, he was also caring for his younger brother and concerned about how he would be able to do both.
“It would have been virtually impossible for me to participate in Leadership Denver without a scholarship,” he said.
And it’s kept him on a path to become the leader he wants to be. He is currently the president of the Denver Urban League Young Professionals. Leadership Denver, he said, has revolutionized him as a person and a leader: “I’m on a faster pace and a faster trajectory and can really maximize the limited time that we have in our lifetime to really make a difference on others’ lives.”