Denver Scholarship Foundation is making a postsecondary degree possible for city students with a three-pronged approach. First the Foundation works proactively with Denver Public School seniors at Future Centers, which have been established inside the high schools. Each Future Center is staffed by a full-time DSF College Advisor who guides students through the college application and financial aid processes.
Next the program awards need-based scholarships that can be as much as $17,000 over five years to DPS graduates attending college or technical school in Colorado. So far the Foundation has awarded nearly 5,000 students more than $20 million.
Finally, DSF partners directly with colleges to provide scholarship recipients with additional financial aid and ongoing support to help them succeed and ultimately graduate. For each dollar awarded by DSF to scholarship recipients, partner colleges award an average of $2 in additional financial aid and provide critical support services, such as mentors, special seminars and tutors to help the scholars succeed. These strategies are working well for our mostly first-generation scholars as 800 have already graduated from college or technical school.
All eyes will be on Denver in November 2015 as college access and support for students of need goes before the voters. The measure is a sales tax increase of 0.08 percent — less than a penny for a $10 purchase — which would generate about $10 million for the scholarship organization. One councilman reported that his constituency is asking why this has become a city responsibility, but a recent study uncovered a nine-fold return on money spent by the Denver Scholarship Foundation. That in a state that has been ranked 47th in the U.S. for higher education funding.