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March 05, 2008 - Denver Public Schools Foundation Hosts an Evening Dedicated to Achievement

Where: Hyatt Regency Denver

When: March 5, 2008

Time: 5:30 p.m.

Beneficiary: Denver Public Schools Foundation

EMCEE: Luis Canela of Univision

Presenting Sponsor(s): UMB Bank

Honorary Chairperson(s): Mayor John Hickenlooper and Governor BIll Ritter

Co-Chair(s): Cole Finegan of Hogan & Hartson and Donna Lynne of Kaiser Permanente

Committee Members: Included: Elaine Gantz Berman, Kristin Richardson and Lola Salazar

Sponsors: UMB Bank, Comcast, Tiffany & Co., Post-News Community, and the Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center. Spanish Languarge Media sponsor: Entravision Communications, and Univision reporter Luis Canela served as announcer for the evening.

Attendance: 1,300

Board of Directors: DPS Foundation Board: Elaine Gantz Berman, Colorado State Board of Education; Leslie Mitchell, FirstBank of Cherry Creek; Francisco Garcia, Secretary, Garcia International; Michael Bennet, Denver Public Schools; Scott Binder, Comcast; Joe Blake, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce; Scott Carpenter, Anschutz Investment Company; Linda Childears, Daniels Fund; Cole Finegan, Hogan & Hartson, LLP; Cathey Finlon, McClain Finlon Advertising; Noel Ginsburg, Intertech Plastics; Bruce Hoyt, St. Charles Capital; Chris Hunt, Knightsbridge Capital LLC; Mariner Kemper, UMB Bank; Donna Lynne, Kaiser Permanente; Carrie Morgridge, Community Leader; Rich Rainaldi, CiviCore; Kristin Richardson, Community Leader; Lola Salazar, Salazar Family Foundation; Mark Smith, East West Partners Denver; Ronald Williams, Gary-Williams Energy. Board of Education: Theresa K. Peña, President (at large); Michelle Moss, Vice President (District 2); Bruce L. Hoyt, Treasurer (District 1); Jill Conrad, Secretary (at large); Kevin Patterson (District 4); Jeanne Kaplan (District 3); Arturo Jimenez (District 5)

Blacktie Photos by: Danielle Yuthas

 Mayor John Hickenlooper, Bruce Benson, Barbara Berv and Governor Bill Ritter
Mayor John Hickenlooper, Bruce Benson, Barbara Berv and Governor Bill Ritter



“The foundation of every state is the education of its youth.” –Diogenes Laertius, Greek Philosopher

Nearly 1,300 people joined in celebration on March 5 at the Hyatt Regency Denver to encourage achievement in Denver public schools. Among them were honorary chairs Mayor John Hickenlooper and Governor Bill Ritter. The event raised $1.18 million to support the school district's ambitious education reform plan to improve student achievement, the "Denver Plan."

Student volunteers from the DPS Student Board, Brown International Academy and Teller Elementary School greeted guests as they entered the Hyatt at Colorado Convention Center and led into the ballroom by the pomp of the Montbello High School drum line. Student performances throughout the evening included a “We are the Champions” rap by Montbello High School students, a tap dance by Denver School for the Arts and a theatrical performance by the students of George Washington High School.

Education dignitary Bruce Benson was saluted for his service to Denver public schools as chairman of the DPS Foundation board from 2002-2008. He is taking a new position as president of the University of Colorado at Boulder. Story after story was told of Benson’s unfettered dedication to Denver public schools. Denver Public School Superintendent, Michael Bennet referred to his leaving the Denver public school systems as, “Nothing less than tragic for the 73,000 children and 1,000 employees who’ve benefited mightily from (his) work.” He said, “People that will never know (him), will never forget (him) for the work (he’s) done.”

Barbara O’Brien, Lieutenant Governor, said, “It is a loss for Denver, but for the state, it is the best thing we can do for our future.” The program then focused on the future of Denver Public Schools. Mayor John Hickenlooper quoted Martin Luther King Jr. saying, “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.” “Providing excellence for all of Denver’s kids requires our personal ownership of issues facing students,” he added.

The event featured the theme “ACHIEVE” and celebrated the accomplishments of DPS schools and students. Proceeds from the event will help the DPS Foundation fund strategic programs aligned with the central goals of The Denver Plan. Money raised from the event will help the DPS Foundation support a number of key initiatives, including:

  • implementation of the district’s first standardized elementary school science curriculum
  • after school tutoring and enrichment programs
  • professional development opportunities for principals
  • middle school sports
  • grants to individual schools to fund various academic and enrichment activities

Unfortunately, nearly half of Denver public school students do not graduate and nearly half of the teachers leave their jobs within the first five years. The Janus Education Alliance will aid Denver in reaching the city’s goals of elevating teacher status in the community and making Denver a hub for quality education. Janus is taking what Mayor Hickenlooper referred to as a, “uniquely Janus approach” to helping schools. Janus will be donating a million dollars per year for the next three years, making this the largest corporate gift in the history of the school district. Janus aims to, “change the landscape of Urban education.”

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