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Jodi and Gerald Form a Bond

When Jodi met Gerald*, her Mile High United Way Power Lunch reading buddy, he was the new kid in his class. It wasn’t his first time with that experience: the second grader was already attending his third elementary school.

The adult volunteer and the young student quickly found that they had a lot in common, and a lot to talk about. Jodi impressed Gerald with her knowledge of English Premier League soccer and Star Wars. Gerald wanted to know everything about his new friend – which struck Jodi as only fair.

Yun Hui Gives Back Through Volunteering

When I arrived in the U.S. at age 11, I couldn’t speak or read English. Moving from my familiar home to someplace so different made me feel scared and lost. Suddenly, it seemed like I didn’t know anything.

My parents put me in a public school, where I spent an hour with an aide each day learning English. My first American teacher was kind. She made me feel special, and helped shape the course of my life.

I didn’t realize how much I learned from her until I grew older.

GeQwan Fights to Succeed

Think about all the people – parents, teachers, relatives, and friends – who helped prepare you for adulthood. Can you count them on one hand? Or are even two hands not enough?

If the 16-year-old GeQwan had counted the supporters in his corner, he would have needed only a single finger. Having experienced a traumatic childhood that led to foster care, GeQwan did what many of us would if we had no support: he built walls to protect himself from more harm. And he became a fighter.

Gloria Pursues Her Dream

“I’m what they call ‘stubborn.’” Gloria says, flashing a wry smile. “I was constantly being told, ‘Just take your GED. It’s a lot easier for teen moms. It’s what’s convenient.’”

But Gloria – like many former foster youth whose every move is plotted out by a well-meaning but seemingly endless parade of caseworkers, judges, and lawyers – was tired of being told what to do. She had wanted to graduate from high school since she was a little girl, and she wouldn’t be deterred.

Maria Discovers a Passion for Childhood Development

If you’re a parent working outside the home, you know high-quality child care is a necessity. You may also know that in Colorado, there aren’t enough child care slots for every young child. Across our state, many children of working parents spend their days in the homes of family, friends, or neighbors. In homes like Maria’s.

Emily's Courage Pushes Her Forward

Sometimes, we feel like our lives have been turned upside down by circumstances beyond our control. When this happened to Emily*, she fought to get her life back on track.

Emily and her husband had achieved their dream of owning their own business. Then, after 15 years of running their company together, domestic violence and divorce turned Emily’s life upside down.

Sara Fights for Her Daughter

When your child’s school calls, you answer the phone. If they ask you to come in right away, you go. And if your job gives you the flexibility to care for your family, you’re lucky.

Sara’s daughter, Janna, struggled to adapt to three schools in two-and-a-half years after her family moved to Denver from Los Angeles. After repeated incidents requiring her attention, Sara could no longer retain her job. More importantly, Janna’s education suffered due to unaddressed social-emotional challenges.

Sanaa Works Toward a Brighter Future

Sanaa moved with her family to the United States – first to Alabama, then to Denver – from Baghdad, Iraq, when her husband got sick.

Sanaa was eager to support her growing family. She had been an Arabic teacher in Iraq, but her early work experience in the US was limited to housekeeping. She wanted something more fulfilling, so she applied for a job with Denver Public Schools Transportation Services to work with students with special needs.

Angellynne Finds Stability and Hope

Having struggled with homelessness and addiction, Angellynne knew where a life of instability could lead. Her challenge was to overcome her past. And she was determined.

Angellynne built up her courage and dialed Mile High United Way’s 2-1-1 Help Center. Within seconds, she was sharing her story – and hopes – with someone who was genuinely listening. The 2-1-1 specialist offered Angellynne a resource: a local sober housing program with an opening. It was the one program she had not yet tried.

Layden Finds Support at School

Students like Layden fall behind in reading for a variety of reasons – language barriers, hunger, lack of access to books – and reading at grade level by the end of third grade is one of the best predictors of whether kids will graduate from high school on time. Layden’s reading skills needed support, and his mom was thrilled when he was selected to participate in Mile High United Way’s Colorado Reading Corps.


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