Summer | Issue 36 | Date: June 29, 2023

Amplifying the Voices of LGBTQ+ Youth in Denver Public Schools

“My queer joy is all the time.”

Ca’Shara, Denver Public Schools graduate

RootED kicked off Pride Month with our partners in the Denver Public Schools Culture, Equity and Leadership Team and A Queer Endeavor to celebrate the premiere of “Reclaiming the Narrative: A Film About LGBTQ+ Students.

“Reclaiming the Narrative” is an important film that features the stories and perspectives of 16 students in 13 Denver high schools. 

Denver Public Schools and A Queer Endeavor are confident the new film—which will be the foundation for a new professional learning opportunity for educators in Colorado and beyond beginning next school year—will provide educators with a deeper understanding of the experiences of LGBTQ+ youth. 

Their stories paint a broader and more nuanced picture of LGBTQ+ youth; a picture that reframes and disrupts detrimental narratives with moments of joy and celebrations of intersectional identities. 

“Our students, it’s really their story,” Levi Arithson, a program manager for LGBTQ+ equity initiatives for Denver Public Schools, told Chalkbeat. 

RootED provided funding to support student recruitment, discussion circles and student panels, and the production of the film itself.

For RootED, this film project was a clear opportunity to amplify the voices of LGBTQ+ students, particularly in the celebration of intersectional identities and providing a valuable tool for educator professional development. 

Denver Public Schools will be the first school district in the U.S. to use the film for professional learning in the 2023-24 school year. 

A Queer Endeavor—a nationally renowned center for gender and sexuality in education based in the University of Colorado Boulder’s School of Education—will also provide the film and accompanying professional development to districts throughout the U.S.

Read the Chalkbeat Story

Children Have Access to Free Meals this Summer

This summer, Denver Public Schools is providing free, nutritious meals to children ages 18 and younger, regardless of their family’s income.

Through the federally funded and state-administered Summer Food Service Program, more than 70 schools throughout the city will serve children the nutrition they need. 

Adults can also purchase breakfast for $3 and lunch for $4. No registration or paperwork is required and meals must be consumed onsite.

Find Summer Meal Sites, Dates and Times

Denver Mayor-Elect Mike Johnston Names Transition Committee Members

Congratulations to everyone selected to serve on Denver Mayor-elect Mike Johnston’s transition committees!

Erin Brown, RootED board member and Vice President of Community Investment and Impact for The Colorado Health Foundation, and Victoria Scott-Haynes, RootED’s Partner of Community Relations and Administration, have both been asked to serve on committees. Erin will serve on the Employee Voice committee and Victoria will serve on the Education and City-Denver Public Schools Partnership committee. 

Several other RootED partners have been selected to serve on transition committees, including representatives from:

See the Full List of Transition Committees

State Board of Ed Encourages DPS to Revisit Beacon Zone Revocation

Beacon Network Schools scored a big win for students and families in Southwest Denver this month.

After hearing from Beacon and Denver Public Schools (DPS) about the district’s decision to revoke the Beacon innovation zone, the majority of the Colorado Board of Education’s members have asked DPS to allow the Beacon innovation zone to continue operating. 

In their written comments and recommendations, five of nine of the state board’s members recommended that the Beacon zone have more time to continue its unique and successful learning model. 

The majority noted Beacon’s progress prior to the pandemic and acknowledged the pandemic’s effects on student learning, particularly in the communities Beacon serves. 

The majority of board members also recognized that academic data from the 2021-22 school year is difficult to interpret and noted that the district’s decision to revoke the Beacon innovation zone has come at an inopportune time.

Even the four state board members who said they would defer to the district’s decision on revocation encouraged DPS to review and consider new academic growth data that will be made public in August. 

Read the State Board's Comments and Recommendations

American Indian Academy of Denver Closes

The American Indian Academy of Denver—a first-of-its-kind charter school in Colorado that taught an Indigenous-focused curriculum—closed on June 2. The school’s final weeks were captured in a thoughtful video created by Denver’s Office of Storytelling.


For several years, the American Indian Academy of Denver was a valuable and needed learning environment for students, particularly Indigenous students, in the Denver metro area.

It was an innovative autonomous school that welcomed and affirmed its students and provided a culturally responsive curriculum. It sparked for students an interest in learning, an understanding of their culture, and a strong bond in their community.


“We’ve ignited that flame in (our students),” said Terri Bissonette, the school’s founder. “Whether we’re open or closed, they’ll be able to take that anywhere.”


We’re grateful to the educators who served at the American Indian Academy of Denver. They created something truly special for students in Denver. We’re hopeful that Denver Public Schools will identify areas it can partner with the educators who founded and sustained the school, replicate the academy’s curriculum, and provide a more inclusive, welcoming environment for Indigenous students in schools throughout the district.

Watch the Video
Upcoming Events
Mark your calendars with these important dates:

August 16

Colorado State Board of Education Meeting

August 17

Colorado State Board of Education Meeting


Back-to-school; check the district's calendar and your individual schools' calendars for first-day info.

1390 Lawrence Street, Suite #200
Denver, CO 80204
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