Several University of Colorado Denver administrators shared the dream with 33 youngsters in the Weill Class on Dec. 10 as part of UC Denver's second annual Giving Back Campaign.
Part of the 'I Have a Dream' project, the Weill Dreamers range from second to seventh grade and come from inmore than 10 different elementary and middle schools in the Denver area. The after-school program is held at North Lincoln on Mondays through Thursdays and includes a range of activities: homework help, computer skills, life skills, community service, fitness and nutrition, as well as recreational and enrichment activities.
UC Denver volunteers included: Chancellor Jerry Wartgow; Lilly Marks, vice president for health affairs and executive vice chancellor for Anschutz Medical Campus; Andy Jhanji, vice chancellor for university advancement and chief of staff; and Samantha Ortiz, associate vice chancellor of university life and dean of students.
"I was impressed by how extremely bright the students are," Ortiz said. "These students have bright futures and, thanks to the Weills, the students are getting the extra support and inspiration they need to have amazing futures!"
Administrators read with students, helped with homework and listened to the children's hopes and concerns.
"Perhaps the strongest impression I have of the afternoon came from a group discussion with the older children about college opportunities," Marks said. "It was striking how many of the children's questions centered around their concerns about failure – not meeting program requirements, failing classes, etc. It was an important reminder of how much baggage these kids must carry on their journey and how important community support is to provide students the tools for success and to build their confidence and expectation of success."
The Weill Class was initiated when Dick and Judy Weill responded to a challenge grant from the Morrison and Foerster Foundation to start a new class during the 20th anniversary year. The couple chose to work with a group of youth from a local housing community run by the Denver Housing Authority, specifically the North Lincoln Homes. The housing site is near the Auraria Campus, offering potential partnerships and programs.
"I found the afternoon to be both inspirational and very moving," Marks said. "The program benefactors, leaders and volunteers have made a profound commitment to bettering the lives of children who have so many societal and economic barriers to overcome."