This nonprofit is making a difference!

If you're looking for news to be excited about, then this information is sure to UpLift you. OCN recently had the honor of sitting down with Colorado UpLift, a Denver-based nonprofit that works to provide resources and mentorship to underprivileged students. This amazing organization supports urban youth from underserved areas through five main program areas, including matching them with mentors and helping them pursue academic opportunities that would otherwise be inaccessible. 

Colorado UpLift recently began its Community UpLifter program, which offers community members a chance to get involved with their amazing mission. Check out our interview below for more information on what Colorado UpLift does, the philosophy that motivates them, and how you can help make a difference!

OCN: Tell us more about Colorado UpLift's Mission. What exactly do you do? 

Colorado UpLift: Our official mission is to build long-term, life-changing relationships with urban youth. Our full-time, salaried Teachers/Mentors work with students from underserved areas who consistently deal with challenges such as financial instability, food insecurity, and a lack of relational support. UpLift’s Teachers/Mentors are available to students seven days a week, any week of the year. Colorado UpLift’s programs provide the students we serve with holistic development opportunities through our five program areas, but we believe all programmatic success stems from relationships. It’s because of deep relationships with Teachers/Mentors that our students are engaged, learning, and supported as they try new things and overcome challenges. 

Everyone defines "success’' differently, especially when building community structures that extend beyond individual people. How would you define "success?" What aspects of your UpLift’s approach would you say have been the most successful so far? 

At Colorado UpLift, our success is all about people and relationships, which means it can be difficult to quantify. Of course, we track statistics like the number of students we work with (over 3,500 each year), or how many interactions we have with those students (over 120,000 in 2019), but what success really looks like to us is a transformation in our students and their communities. For some students, this might just be showing up to class consistently for the first time in their lives or speaking up when a teacher asks a question. For others, transformation means being the first in their family to go to college, graduate, and start a successful career. At UpLift, the root of our success has always been our people, our staff. When current students talk about why they love UpLift or alumni share what made the difference in their lives, they always talk about their favorite Teachers/Mentors and how they were there for them no matter what. 

Let's change gears a bit. Community UpLifters are new for Colorado UpLift. Tell us more about what it’s all about. What exactly is an "UpLifter?" 

In 2020, Colorado UpLift released its strategic plan for impacting greater numbers of students and communities as a whole. This plan centers on the idea of critical mass, that is, gaining enough people to truly make a difference, the kind of difference that elevates the communities in and around our city to ones of character and compassion. 

We believe this kind of transformation takes place through meaningful connections. These connections are of course with our students, but also exist with parents, neighbors, community partners, UpLift supporters, etc. These Community UpLifters—people whose lives have been positively impacted by UpLift’s programs, students, and staff—are just as integral to bringing positive and lasting transformation to Colorado communities.

We are excited to partner with Community UpLifters from all walks of life, people who share our passion for bringing positive transformation to their families, communities, and the city as a whole! Together we can create a movement that truly makes a difference.

Can anyone join the Community UpLifters? What would you say are the ideal traits for an UpLifter to have?

Anyone can become a Community UpLifter! At Colorado UpLift, we use three C’s to define the ideal traits for an UpLifter. A Community UpLifter is connected to Colorado UpLift in some way: maybe someone who knows one of the students we work with, a financial supporter, or a person who is passionate about helping us further our mission. An UpLifter is committed to living out the character and values Colorado UpLift works to instill in its students. This includes qualities like a positive work ethic, integrity, and leadership. Finally, UpLifters are community-minded, always looking for new ways to bring positive change to their spheres of influence. 
Wow. After a tough year, it's incredibly inspiring to see organizations like Colorado UpLift that are putting their money where their mouths are and making a difference. 

If you're interested in becoming an UpLifter, you can learn more by visiting this link. Leave a word of encouragement in the comments.