Denver Skyline

Why Denver Should Be at the Top of your List

There’s a reason why people are flocking to Denver -- and it’s not just the 300+ days of sunshine here each year. The Mile High City has one of the nation’s strongest metropolitan economies, and according to U.S. News & World Report, Denver is the #1 place in the entire nation to live. With it’s thriving economy, Denver was also listed as #1 on Forbes list of best places for business and careers. Denver offers its residents both the perks of urban living as well as many outdoor adventures.

Denver has become a rich ecosystem of education entrepreneurs, practitioners, advocates, and policy reform leaders. It’s also a top destination for young professionals and recent college grads, who will make up 46% of Denver’s workforce by 2020.

Consistent leadership at Denver Public Schools, along with its reform-minded Board of Education, and the leadership of top charter school management organizations have allowed the city to shutter low-performing schools, implement new teacher-accountability measures, and bolster the number of charter and charter-like schools over the years.  

These successful efforts are a major reason for the significant increase in education leaders considering Denver as a top option for their professional careers. Our Partner organizations here offer Pioneers significant opportunities in strategic planning, data analysis, operations, and external affairs.

Read more from our Pioneers on why Denver was the best place for them:

“I've fallen in love with Denver’s City Park—whether playing tennis, Jazz in the Park, or just taking a walk through it and catching glimpses of the mountains. I love being able to be outdoors with Denver’s amazing weather—even in the winter.”

“The best thing about EP was the network. I felt really comfortable reaching out to anyone in the network. I was new to Denver and didn’t have any of that network. EP put me on the map, which was critical in a place like Denver which is small and tight-knit.”

“Denver is small enough that there is a real sense of optimism that change is possible. The education reform community is small, collaborative and fun here.”

Learn more about life in Denver:

About our work in Denver

Overall, Colorado has one of the widest achievement gaps between affluent and poor students in the country, and one of the nation’s highest dropout rates. Affluent students are three times more proficient than those growing up in low-income communities. Specifically, Denver’s Public Schools serves a student body comprised of 71% low-income students and the achievement gap between low-income and non-low income students is almost 40 percentage points across all subjects.

But the state and its capital city have embraced change. Here, businesses and philanthropic partners with educators and legislators to transform the system. With an early, successful pay-for-performance system for teachers, Denver emphasizes “Empowering Effective Educators.” The district is also looking toward its future, closing failing schools and opening new options.

Denver is a reform-friendly city, with many high-performing charter schools, new education technology startups, and active advocacy organizations. In fact, Colorado’s Senator Michael Bennet and Mayor Michael Hancock were named Champions for Charter Schools by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools in 2015. These efforts are increasing achievement and enticing families – and professionals – back to Denver.


Following successful local pilot partnerships in 2012 and 2013, Education Pioneers officially launched in Denver in 2014 to supply local organizations with the talented people they need to achieve their goals.

To date, EP Denver has:

  • Improved organizational capacity, strategies, effectiveness, and performance of 21 Partner organizations, including Denver Public Schools, charter school management organizations Denver School of Science and Technology (DSST), KIPP Colorado, Rocky Mountain Prep, STRIVE Prep, University Prep, venture philanthropy Charter School Growth Fund; foundations including Gates Family Foundation, The Piton Foundation/Gary Community Investment as well as government agencies including CDE, and the Office of Children’s Affairs.  Our Pioneers enable our Partners to think differently about ongoing educational issues, leverage data and educator talent, and more efficiently manage other resources.

  • Recruited, selected, and trained over 70 Denver leaders to close the achievement gap for over 100,000 students.

  • Seen over 80% of EP Alumni in the Denver workforce remain in full-time roles in the education sector, with over 50% serving as managers or above.

  • EP Fellows in the Denver area work on strategic projects that make a difference, including: creating tools and coaching to support a data-driven culture in Denver Public Schools, bringing cutting-edge technology into teaching at DSST, developing an expansion plan for a charter school facilities fund at Charter School Growth Fund, evaluating the impact of grant making activities at the Gates Family Foundation, and overseeing school-support operations for STRIVE Prep.

  • Numerous EP Alumni are contributing to the Denver region’s education work, including Richard Billings, Partner at the Charter School Growth Fund; Heidi Erbe, Chief Operating Officer for Generation Teach; Caleb Fields, Manager of Teacher Through Leader Talent Acquisition Team for Denver Public Schools; Laurence Bleicher, Director of Strategy & Analysis at Denver Kids, Inc.; Heather Furman, Portfolio Manager at the Charter School Growth Fund; Mike Biven, Chief of Staff at Teach For America Colorado; and Angie McPhaul, Manager of Accountability, Portfolio Management Team at Denver Public Schools.

  • Other Alumni are driving impact for Denver students in a wide variety of key functional roles, such as:

    • Director of Competency Based Learning, Denver Public Schools

    • Associate Director, Climb Higher Colorado

    • Director of Finance, Girls Athletic Leadership School

    • Chief of Staff, Rocky Mountain Prep

Local Contact


ACE Scholarships
America Succeeds
Aurora Public Schools
Children's Hospital Colorado
Colorado League of Charter Schools
Constellation Philanthropy
Denver Afterschool Alliance
Denver Mayor's Office
Denver Preschool Program


Gates Family Foundation
The Connie Burwell and William W. White Foundation
Carson Foundation
TeleTech Community Foundation