Youth Development

Denver Urban Scholars

  • Denver, CO

Mission Statement

Denver Urban Scholars (DUS) partners with high-poverty, high-performing schools to unlock the potential of students facing added challenges by creating individual pathways to college and career success.

Main Programs

  1. Milestones
  2. Stepping Stones Middle School Program
  3. Capstones College Program
Service Areas



Of our 377 total students currently served, 85% are in Denver, 7% in Jefferson, 4% in Arapahoe and 4% in Adams Counties.

ruling year


Principal Officer since 1995


Patrick Byrne



mentoring, disadvantaged youth, high school graduation, education, dropout prevention

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Physical Address

3532 Franklin St., Suite T

Denver, 80205


Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Adult, Child Matching Programs (O30)

Children's and Youth Services (P30)

Adult, Child Matching Programs (O30)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?


Self-reported by organization

For youth who lack the emotional support of positive caring adults and the resources they need to keep up in school, graduate and participate in higher education, Denver Urban Scholars facilitates life-changing, positive results. Compared to youth with similar demographics (97% minority, 90% free-reduced lunch eligible, 77% English language learners), the youth we serve fare much better. Last year, 95% of our students advanced on time to the next grade level, 94% graduated and 75% of graduates enrolled in postsecondary programs.


Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1


Our Milestones High School Program follows our
unique model in which at-risk youth who are identified through our school partners come under the care of a clinical case manager.
Clinical case management is a specialized professional field in which case
managers go beyond simply coordinating needed services; they evaluate and
address all aspects of their students’ physical and social environments as well
as collaborate with families, teachers and other service providers.

Case managers
match each youth with a one-to-one mentor after performing quality screening
and matching (we screen mentors using the most thorough background
checks through state and federal criminal and sex offender registries, driving
history and fingerprinting). Case
managers supervise the mentoring relationship, monitor student progress at
school and meet with families and teachers to address any needs students have.
We provide clinical case management and mentoring services year-round.

Mentors attend four hours of required orientation and
training per year; they have phone contact with their students at least once
per week and meet with them in person at least twice per month. Students also
meet with their case managers at least twice per month. We hold monthly group
mentoring activities of up to six hours to promote bonding between youth and

Our strong partnerships with public charter schools allows
us to have a presence in the schools our youth attend through dedicated office
space or access to space in which case managers can meet with their students. Students
with a 2.5 GPA or lower have access to weekly (one-hour) tutoring services as
needed at their school or our offices. We
connect youth to other services such as learning disability testing and
counseling and provide stipends to cover academic expenses. Six clinical
(master’s-level) case managers have caseloads of between 16 and 25 each; we
also have two college (social work) interns who provide supplemental case management
during the academic year.

Our evidence-based program strategies include working with
smaller schools, which provides protective factors by fostering positive social
and academic settings13 and a greater sense of belonging.14
Our development of strong partnerships with public charter schools provides
youth with easy access to our program at their schools and helps us reach youth
who are most in need of support services within a promising learning
environment. Local studies show that programs promoting school bonding, clear rules
for behavior and mentoring are most needed in Colorado to protect against
multiple types of violence,15 drug use, truancy and academic
failure.16 Our
program is preventing dropout through adult advocates, parental involvement,
tutoring, life skills training and middle school intervention.17

(Sources cited available upon request)


Human Services

Population(s) Served

Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)

Ethnic/Racial Minorities -- General

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General



Program 2

Stepping Stones Middle School Program

Our Stepping Stones Middle School Program also follows our unique clinical case management model and delivers programming that specifically addresses the needs of middle school youth living in disadvantaged circumstances.


Human Services

Population(s) Served

Children Only (5 - 14 years)



Program 3

Capstones College Program

We launched our Capstones College Program as a pilot program in 2012 and are serving 30 youth currently who have graduated from high school through our program. We continue to design the program to meet the unique needs of youth transitioning from high school to college and striving to succeed through at least their first two years of college.


Human Services

Population(s) Served

Young Adults (20-25 years) -- currently not in use



Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    By bringing wrap-around support to youth in need, Denver Urban Scholars is driven to unleash each student's potential through improved confidence and pro-social skills, academic success and personal motivation to be positive contributors to their communities.
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    We combine individualized case management, one-to-one mentoring following best practices and various academic support activities at each developmental level. A key aspect of our strategy is to partner with specific schools (public and private) that meet our criteria for effective partnerships. Through formal agreements, we are able to embed our programming into the student's school day and beyond the school day to work with families, teachers, mentors and the students to ensure success.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    We have over 20 years of experience working with youth in our community who face added challenges; through our various community partners over the years, we have gained crucial insight into effective programming strategies with this population. Our staff is highly qualified and most have master's degrees in social work and several are bilingual. DUS has been an active member of Mentor Colorado for many years, through which it has gained extensive knowledge about mentoring best practices.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    We measure success by the social/emotional progress of our youth through both the Developmental Assets Profile and the Positive Youth Development survey and by the academic progress of students (on-time grade progression, graduation, enrollment and persistence in postsecondary programs).
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    With a 21-year track record of success, DUS has helped hundreds of youth graduate from high school, attend college and enter productive careers. Our long history of collaborative work with other agencies has resulted in expertly informed programming for marginalized youth. Over the past five years, 85% have graduated, 89% have enrolled in college, and 93% have progressed on time to the next grade level.
Service Areas



Of our 377 total students currently served, 85% are in Denver, 7% in Jefferson, 4% in Arapahoe and 4% in Adams Counties.

Social Media

Funding Needs

Denver Urban Scholars is in need of funding to accommodate our newly restructured and growing staff, which will allow us to better support our case managers as they take on higher caseloads of students in need.



External Reviews


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Fiscal year: Jan 01-Dec 31
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Denver Urban Scholars



Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2015, 2014 and 2013
  • Board Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Community
Need the ability to download nonprofit data and more advanced search options? Consider a Premium or Pro Search subscription.

Principal Officer

Patrick Byrne

STATEMENT FROM THE Principal Officer

"The uniqueness of Denver Urban Scholars is that we partner with innovative schools that share our mission to help level the playing field for disadvantaged youth in both academic achievement and positive social development. Youth who become Urban Scholars have an opportunity to change the trajectory of their lives by engaging in school, in mentoring relationships and, really, breaking the barriers to their academic and social growth. Most of the youth who graduate through our program are the first in their families to do so."



Joe Kelloff

McElvain Energy

Term: Jan 2016 - Jan 2019


GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices. Self-reported by organization



Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?