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February 21, 2013 - Horizons Program gains ground at Wine & Dine 2013

What: Fundraising event for the Horizons program at the Colorado Academy. Proceeds help fund the summer and Saturday programs for low-income Denver Public School students.

Where: Colorado Academy Campus

When: Thursday, February 21, 2013

Time: 6 - 9 p.m.

Ticket Prices: $80 - Individual // $150 - Couple

Beneficiary: Horizons Student Enrichment Program at Colorado Academy

Executive Director: Ingrid Moore

Speaker: Jose Martinez and Jessica Nunez

Catering: Ace, Vesta Dipping Grill & Steuben's, Blake Street Tavern, Colt & Gray, Colorado Academy, Dazbog Coffee, Gourmet to Go, Lime, MADGreens, Peachtree Distillers, Strange Brewing Company

Menu: Fare from local Denver chefs, restaurants and taverns

Attendance: 300+

Attire: Come as you are

Special Thanks: Bank of the West, Colorado Academy, The Kylberg Family, Peggy and John Phillips


Event Coordinator: Event Co-Chairs: Laura Lee Gastis & Molly Wallace

Planning Committee: Wine & Dine Committee: Rachel Aguirre, Eleanora Archie, Emily Biederman, Kristie Brice, Jeanne Coleman, Liz Fuselier, Carmen Hall, Elizabeth Kaleugher, Denise Kay, Jilliann Parker, Kasie Roads, Catherine Rollhaus, Stephanie Schwarts, Emie Watters, Jen Wolkon

Board of Directors: President: John Fenley, Vice President: Laurence Chang, Secretary: Maggie King, Co-Chairs: Olga Garcis & Jim Kidder

Blacktie Photos by: Kimberly Johnson

 Ingrid Moore, Gina Cline and Cate Cohen
Ingrid Moore, Gina Cline and Cate Cohen

Only 58.8% of Denver Public School students graduate high school, according to the latest DPS figures. The Colorado Academy wants that number to change. Through their Horizons program, they are.  Horizons is a 6-week long summer program also offering six Saturdays during the school year for kids from low-income families to come and work on learning and social strategies to enhance their self-esteem and academic performance.

Graduate student Jessica Nunez took the stage at this year’s Wine & Dine to speak eloquently about being the exception to the rule. Through Horizons, she was able to graduate high school – the first member of her family to do so.  She is now enrolled in college and works during the summer as a student teaching assistant, giving back to the program that helped her accomplish so much.

The children of Horizons get to swim, read, play and grow within a structured setting, often offering them the only safe refuge from troubled homes.  Jim Kidder, Colorado Academy board co-chair says, “The best stories are all around the swimming pool. There’s such a confidence enhancer there in learning how to swim and it directly impacts how they do in academics.”

At this year’s Wine & Dine fundraising event, two graduate students took the stage to tell their stories. One graduate student, Jose Martinez, movingly told the audience about the moment he realized the tables had turned. Martinez now works as a student assistant teacher at Horizons. One summer, he was asked to come into a meeting with a student who was having major issues at home and displaying behavioral problems at the program. “That specific interaction,” he says, “made me realize that I am much more than an assistant to this class. I was an effective role model to those kids.”  

Martinez said that he had always been told that “anything is possible” and that’s the message he wants to pass on to future generations of Horizons students.. “As long as they too focus their mind and heart, they too can accomplish anything,” he said.

Wine & Dine was a successful fundraising event, raising tens of thousands of dollars to help fund the program and expand it. The event featured delectable food and beverages from all over Denver as well as classy auction items and a great festive atmosphere. Over the past year, Horizons has helped over 130 students get their footing and create a stable, successful life. Martinez said, “This opportunity you cannot find anywhere else. This wonderful program has played a key role in my life over the years.”

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