Celebrating students beating the odds

After all the school graduations ceremonies were complete the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) joined with multiple organizations to invite all graduating students involved in the foster care or juvenile justice systems to Denver for one more event.

A special celebration recognizing more than 100 students involved in the foster care or juvenile justice systems who graduated from high school or received a GED or other degree this year was held in June. Students from throughout Colorado attended the 19th Annual Celebration of Educational Excellence at Metropolitan State University of Denver to listen to several accomplished youth who share similar experiences speak about their journeys toward achieving their educational goals.

The evening honored 143 graduates, of which: 

  • 102 received a high school diploma this year
  • 35 received a GED
  • Four received a career or technical certificate
  • Two received an associate degree

These students are beating the odds. The majority of Colorado’s students in foster care aren’t graduating from high school. Just 33.2 percent of public school students in foster care in the class of 2016 graduated in four years, compared with 78.9 percent of all students. A new report from the University of Northern Colorado finds educational stability is likely to improve the odds of students in foster care graduating from high school. Colorado students in foster care typically change schools three times during high school.

Graduates were lead into the ceremony by the Montbello Drumline and honored by a special performance Medicine Heart Dancers before receiving certificates of recognition and a laptop to help them continue to achieve success as they pursue their educational and career goals as part of the CDHS Chafee Program Foster Care Independence Program.

Celebration of Educational Excellence event partners include:

  • Arapahoe County Department of Human Services
  • Ben Michaels
  • CASA Advocates for Children
  • Colorado Department of Education
  • Colorado Department of Higher Education / College in Colorado
  • Colorado Department of Human Services
  • Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (CDHE)
  • Denver County Department of Human Services
  • Denver Juvenile Court
  • Forward Steps
  • Medicine Heart Dancers
  • Mile High United Way
  • Monico Photography, Inc.
  • Montbello Drumline
  • Office of the Child’s Representative
  • SN Studio and Design
  • Student Association of Social Workers
  • Tono Productions
  • Weld County Department of Human Services

Prior to the celebration, young people had the opportunity to meet with representatives from various organizations from throughout the state during a resource fair. Special thanks to resource fair partners:

  • Arapahoe Community College
  • Aveda Institute Denver
  • Bridging The Gap / Mile High United Way
  • Boulder County Youth Advisory Board
  • College in Colorado (CDHE)
  • Colorado State University / Fostering Success
  • Colorado Sexual Health Initiative (CDHS)
  • Colorado Youth for a Change
  • Community College of Denver
  • Denver CASA
  • Denver Indian Family Resource Center
  • Elitch Gardens
  • Forward Steps
  • Front Range Community College
  • Governor's Summer Job Hunt (CDLE)
  • Job Corps/CHP International
  • The Legacy Project
  • The Matthews House
  • Metropolitan Denver Youth Advisory Board
  • Metropolitan State University of Denver
  • Office of the Child’s Representative
  • Rainbow Alley
  • Red Rocks Community College
  • Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center – Youth Empowerment Program
  • Savio House
  • Success4Life Tutoring
  • TattooEmergency911
  • Young Americans Bank
Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline
1-844-CO-4-KIDS (1‑844‑264‑5437)
Available 24 hours a day, every day. Don't hesitate to call and get help. 
Anyone witnessing a child in a life-threatening situation should call 911 immediately.