Colorado Youth for a Change

Denver, CO
Executive Director: Mary Zanotti

Colorado Youth for a Change (CYC) works to reduce the dropout rate by reengaging students who have dropped out and those at risk of dropping out, and putting them back on track to graduate.

CYC educational specialists identify youth who have dropped out, help them find schools that fit their needs, address barriers preventing them from attending school, and support them after reenrollment to ensure they remain in school. CYC’s in-school intervention services support 9th grade students who are off-track to graduate. The Futures Academy provides students who are unlikely to graduate with a diploma before they turn 21 due to their age and lack of credits. These students receive direct classroom instruction to help them prepare for GED testing while earning college credit or industry certificates through concurrent enrollment in community or technical colleges.

"PropelNext changed the culture of our organization by grounding our work in evaluation and, ultimately, advancing our mission." 
- Mary Zanotti, Colorado Youth for a Change

Seventy percent of CYC students are disadvantaged and qualify for the free or reduced lunch program. Many have been involved in systems, such as foster care, that make it challenging for them to prioritize education.

In 2016, CYC helped more than 400 young people re-enroll in school and 62 percent of them continued their enrollment the following year or graduated. 71 percent of in-school youth ended the school year on-track to graduate. 47 Futures Academy students earned their GED and 77 Futures Academy students enrolled in post-secondary studies.

In late 2017, CYC was able to build on its successful work with PropelNext to acquire a larger AmeriCorps program that added three new staff members and will enable the organization to serve an additional 1,200 students each year.

Read the CYC Grantee Story: CYC Focuses on Fidelity to Fight Dropout Rates in Colorado.

Watch Mary Zanotti talk about her organization's experiences.