Colorado UpLift (Denver, CO)


  • Name:Ms. Christie Ziegler
  • Title:Director of Foundation and Corporate Relationships

Organization Address

  • Organization Name:Colorado UpLift
  • Address:3914 King Street
    Denver, CO 80211
    United States

Organization Phone

  • Main phone:3038306615
  • Main fax:3038306763

Organization Web

User Web and Email


Click map for a full size active view.


  • Mission:
  • The mission of Colorado UpLift is to build long-term, life-changing relationships with urban youth.

  • Overview:
  • Colorado UpLift is dynamic, educational youth-service organization teaching character, leadership and life skills to disadvantaged students in Denver. In order to succeed in the classroom, inner-city kids need strong relational support to make good choices and realize their dreams.

    "When I joined Colorado UpLift, it was the first time someone told me my dreams were possible, that I could go to college and make something of myself. Before that, I thought I would probably end up either in jail, or dead." (Pablo, UpLift student)

    This quote highlights the issue we are working to solve in our community: the relational deficit faced by disadvantaged youth that is highly correlated with poverty. Students in poverty are often from single-family homes or homes with both working parents, so the positive influence of a caring adult is limited. Most students lack the role models or support they need to succeed and pursue a positive course of action with their lives.

    The pressures of poverty also increase family dysfunction and thus increase other risk factors, such as gangs, drugs, hopelessness and abuse or violence. These factors all impede a child's opportunity to do well in school. Eighty percent of UpLift students are in this category, qualifying for the federal free / reduced program (a recognized indicator of risk). Ninety percent are minorities (a significant risk marker) and most of the schools they attend have a "LOW" rating for state testing scores. Overall, the average high school graduation rate in the district is a extremely low (60%). Huge proficiency gaps exist academically for students of color and low income status; in fact, Colorado has the widest proficiency gaps in the nation, showing the dire need for services for low-income youth.

    Colorado UpLift addresses these issues with a comprehensive, relational approach. We hire full-time teacher/metors to function as mentors and life coaches to youth over multiple years. This strategy is a unique, "whole child" model that stands out from other youth service providers in our community due to the combination of the following elements:

    1. We utilize full-time, salaried staff members to impact our youth, not volunteers or part-time youth workers.
    2. We have five program areas that impact students both in and out of the classroom (In School, After School, Adventure, Post Secondary and Advanced Leadership).
    3. We reach kids year-round, not limited to the school year.
    4. We form long-term relationships with multi-year impact, creating a "pipeline" of influence.
    5. High school students teach and mentor the elementary kids in our program, becoming leaders and role models themselves.

    Colorado UpLift begins its programming with students in 4th and 5th grade (and even as early as 2nd and 3rd grade) in low-income elementary schools. We teach the UpLift class once a week to EVERY student at those schools.

    From there, we track those students into the "feeder" middle and high school to provide a continual, grade-to-grade impact with our character education and mentoring. New students can join in each grade as others mobilize in and out of the class. In high school, students receive elective credit for Colorado UpLift.

    The impact of this 34-year-old program includes a significantly higher graduation rate and post-secondary enrollment rate, as well as behavioral change and character education. Students are making good choices, finding the support they need to set and achieve goals, and are functioning as positive role models for younger kids in the community and in their families.

    With an impact of 5,400 youth per year, Colorado UpLift is making a significant difference in Denver. UpLift is also replicating the model nationally to ensure every at-risk youth in the U.S. receives the needed support to achieve success in life.

  • History:
  • Colorado UpLift was founded in 1982 by Dr. Kent Hutcheson, a Denver native and social entrepreneur. Prior to founding UpLift, he and his wife, Diane, worked in the social services arena for many years, and specifically spent eleven years overseas developing a leadership institute for young people, returning to the US in 1976 to continue youth work in the States.

    At that time, Kent noticed similar issues facing youth in the States compared to those overseas; in his words, the U.S. had its own “third world” of poverty, hopelessness and failure that needed to be addressed. His concept of indigenous leadership was contrary to many existing organizations working in the inner city at the time, so he employed a young African American seminary student – Mike Riley – to come alongside him and start a relational-based jobs program for urban youth in Denver.

    Approaching some of his former public school classmates who were now in business, Kent and Mike successfully launched and ran Colorado UpLIFT- “Leadership Information For Teens.” However, after growing the staff and working with more youth, Kent noticed a glitch; though students were obtaining jobs, they weren’t succeeding. Kids did not have a positive work ethic, good time management, communication skills or goal-setting abilities.

    Kent realized they were “reaching kids too late,” as he puts it. One key factor in students’ lack of success was the “relational vacuums” that existed in their lives, exemplified by dysfunctional families, gangs, drugs and lack of adult support to help kids succeed. To make a long story short, Kent and his staff took the program into the schools, helping students learn character, leadership and life skills starting in 4th grade, and hired staff full-time to devote themselves to students’ needs. Results from the current program speak to the success of this approach, which continues in its structure today.

    In 1989, Kent received his Ph.D. through Columbia Pacific University, and in 2007 he received the Robert E. Crawford Achievement Prize for outstanding youth work from the National Recreation Foundation. Colorado UpLift continues to blossom and develop, now a 34-year old organization being replicated nationally with support from Denver’s top business leaders, countless community partnerships and a volunteer guild of 100 individuals. Colorado UpLift has received several public recognitions, including annual student winners of Denver’s Mayor’s Youth Award as well as the prestigious “Top Company” Award, Nonprofit Category (2010) from Colorado Biz Magazine. The Top Company Award is a competitive award for organizations with best business and financial practices in the field.

    Dr. Hutcheson was also recognized in the past as one of four winners of the Richard Cornuelle Award for Social Entrepreneurship from the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. (2013).

  • Year established:1982
  • Endowment:Unknown


  • Executive / Trustee board size:90
  • Advisory board size:18
  • Staff size:51


  • Organization type:Grantseeker
  • Country of registration:United States
  • Tax Determination Letter:Received Determination Letter
  • IRS Section:501(c)(3)
  • IRS Subsection:None
  • Tax ID:84-0889330

Other Organization Web

IRS Business Master File Information

  • EIN:840889330
  • Organization Name:COLORADO UPLIFT
  • Sort (Secondary) Name:
  • Care Of Name:
  • Organization Address:400 W 48TH AVE 250
  • Organization City:DENVER
  • Organization State:CO
  • Organization Zip:80216-1806
  • Group Exemption Number:0000
  • Subsection Code:03
  • Classification Code(s):1
  • Subsection/Classification Desc.:Charitable Organization
  • Affiliation Code:3
  • Ruling Date:December, 1982
  • Deductibility Code:1
  • Foundation Code:15
  • Foundation Code Desc.:Organization which receives a substantial part of its support from a governmental unit or the general public 170(b)(1)(A)(vi)
  • Activity Code(s):566
  • Activity Code Desc.(s):Job training, counseling, or assistance
  • Organization Code:1 (Corporation)
  • Exempt Org. Status Code:01 (Unconditional Exemption)
  • Tax Period:June, 2016
  • Filing Requirement Category:01 (990 (all other) or 990EZ return)
  • Accounting Period:June
  • NTEE Code:B900
  • Asset Amount:$5,547,978
  • Asset Code:7 ($5,000,000 - $9,999,999)
  • Income Amount:$5,519,480
  • Income Code:7 ($5,000,000 - $9,999,999)
  • 990 Revenue Amount:$5,424,541
  • Last Updated:2/25/2018 9:41:32 am

This information is directly from the IRS Exempt Organization Business Master File at Exempt Organizations Business Master File Extract. This information is not under the control of the Common Grant Application and is collected and compiled and can only be changed by the IRS.