For the first time, Graland has partnered with The Challenge Foundation, a local organization whose mission is to break the cycle of poverty by helping smart, ambitious, hard-working students receive educational opportunities at independent schools. Challenge scholars will join our Middle School program at a rate of two per year, starting with two new students this year.
“Graland is a place where these kids can succeed,” says Holly Dichter, executive director of the Denver office. “This is a very inclusive school where Challenge students will be able to integrate and excel.”
To establish a level playing field, students in the program receive tuition assistance and individualized support services from Challenge. Holly serves as the case manager for Graland’s two Challenge students and is on campus twice each week to offer guidance to students and teachers. She also pledges tutoring, mental health services, clothes, supplies and athletic equipment to ensure there are no barriers for Challenge students.
“What impresses me the most about the Challenge Foundation is its complete dedication to its scholars from middle school through college,” says Josh Cobb, Head of School. “Its extensive selection process and thorough system of support makes me so confident in this partnership’s success. I am honored that an organization with such a long history of promoting equity through education trusts us to be a school where its scholars can excel.”
Our new students began their Challenge application in fourth grade, a lengthy process that included school and home visits, teacher recommendations and cognitive testing. Before gaining admission, they also completed all the required steps in the Graland admission process.
Graland’s staff accountant, Gaby Perez, is an alumna of the Challenge Foundation who says her high school experience at Bishop Machebeuf put her in a place where the majority of students were like her — ambitious and college bound. “I didn’t feel like a nerd because everyone was there to learn,” she shares. “It was a culture shock at first, coming from a low-income family, but I made some of my best friends at Machebeuf and I felt supported in my academic goals.”
Gaby, who went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Regis University, believes Graland is a good fit for a partnership with The Challenge Foundation. “Both Graland and Challenge have missions that support inclusivity and equity,” she says. “I know the Graland community and especially the students will make sure the Challenge Foundation scholars are welcomed.”
Kieffer Williams, associate director of admission and outreach, worked directly with Holly and The Challenge Foundation to create the partnership.
“We are so thrilled to have Challenge students at Graland, and we look forward to how their contributions will enrich our student body,” she says.
Mimi joined Graland in 2012 equipped with a bachelor’s degree in communication, concentration in public relations and minor in English. She handles communications initiatives and strategy, produces all the school’s publications and works closely with the Graland Parent Association.