It’s no secret that the American education system could use improvement. While Colorado isn’t the worst in the nation for high school graduation rates, it’s certainly not the best either. The probability of a Denver public high school freshman graduating in four years is just below 60 percent, with about a 6 percent chance that they will never reach their graduation day at all. Compare these statistics with those from Boulder Public Schools, with an 89.7 percent on-time graduation rate and a 0.6 percent dropout rate— and it’s clear that a change is needed.

City Year Denver, an organization of local business leaders and service providers, focuses on improving education in DPS through long-term teaching and mentoring volunteer opportunities. In 2011, 50 of City Year Denver’s members began working to provide tutoring and mentorship to students at risk of dropping out. From meeting in small groups before classes to after-school programming, service members (ages 17 to 24 years old who volunteer 10 months full-time), hope to create a positive environment centered around learning and growth.

The result so far? Since 2011, 48 percent of students tutored by City Year Denver have improved by at least one letter grade in ELA (English Language Aquisition; formally referred to as English as a Second Language) classes, and 30 percent of tutored students boosted their grade in the tutored subject by at least one letter. Once more, City Year is increasing its presence in DPS schools, and plans to increase their numbers from 70 service members to 85 for the upcoming 2013/14 school year. Their ultimate goal is to establish a presence in other school districts in Colorado, helping high schoolers all over the state succeed both academically and in personal careers outside of the classroom.

Get Involved: City Year is looking for leaders and mentors in the Denver community. Interested? Fill out this survey and a City Year staff member will contact you. Other volunteer opportunities can be found here.

Image courtesy of City Year Denver