As part of Groundwork Denver’s Porch Bulb Project, volunteers travel door-to-door, offering to exchange incandescent front-porch light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. The initiative saves participants money and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also serving as a simple outreach gesture to help elderly and low-income residents in the community. Groundwork Denver volunteers use the opportunity to talk to community members about other energy-saving steps they can take, including free weatherization, recycling, and other measures.
On the field trips, kids in the Denver Public School District get a chance to interact with nature firsthand rather than merely hearing about it, as in traditional, indoor environmental education programs. SPREE lets students observe the river’s ecosystem and connect to a natural space in the city, an experience that can ideally spark an interest in exploring nature in their free time. With funding aid to cover the costs of park usage, staff, and supplies, SPREE can provide these excursions for youth from low-income families for free.
Reach Out and Read Colorado’s medical partners meet with parents and children at their regular doctors’ visits, starting at the 6-month checkup and continuing through age 5. The organization distributes developmentally appropriate books to more than 82,000 children each year, and its partners discuss with parents the importance of reading aloud to children at an early age. By encouraging reading in young children, Reach Out and Read Colorado aims to increase their vocabularies and strengthen their language skills to prepare them to begin kindergarten.
America SCORES Denver focuses its afterschool efforts on 10 urban-area schools, where more than 30% of students entering the fourth grade are unable to read and write at their grade level. Young participants get 10 times the average amount of exercise for those in their age group as they sprint and kick their way through organized soccer games and practices, which alternate with more than 60 hours of afterschool poetry workshops. Student-led service projects hatch into fruition each spring. Children most in need of the SCORES program's services often come from low-income families, and nearly half of the children in the program are unable to afford its registration fee, which helps compensate the teachers and coaches leading the organization's workshops and teams.
In 1986, Toni Schmid and Kathy Carfrae were interning at homeless shelters in the area as part of their studies at the University of Denver's Graduate School of Social Work. They observed homeless women leaving the safety of the shelters each morning with nowhere to go but back to the streets. Believing that these women should have a safe place to spend their days, Toni and Kathy used a $6,000 donation to form The Gathering Place in a one-room facility on Santa Fe Drive. It quickly became a regular daytime drop-in center for women, their children, and transgender individuals who were experiencing episodic or chronic homelessness. At its inception, The Gathering Place served 25–35 women each day; today, it serves approximately 275 women and children daily in its state-of-the-art, 28,000-square-foot facility.
The Gathering Place's programs contribute to personal growth with GED training, a computer lab that hosts skills classes, and a writers' group that facilitates creative expression. It also works to meet basic needs ranging from providing nutritious food to making showers and laundry services available. The housing stabilization program helps women achieve and maintain self-sufficiency with rent and utilities support, transportation assistance, and job training.