Amplifying the Voices of DPS Alumni
Ednium was founded in 2019 by TeRay Esquibel and Perla Bustillos, both Denver Public Schools (DPS) alumni, to amplify the experiences, ideas, and leadership of other young DPS alumni and develop tangible solutions for the future of the education system. Ednium believes that recent DPS alumni bring important perspectives about what knowledge and skills students need to navigate the power structures present in everyday life post-graduation. Through leadership development, Ednium supports alumni with the networks, opportunities, and connections to leverage those perspectives to change the way the city educates and reinvests in its homegrown talent. The work of Ednium’s Advocacy Accelerator (one of its four core programs) detailed below is just one example of their unwavering belief in the power of DPS alumni.
In 2020, Ednium held a series of discussions with over 150 DPS alumni to discuss changes that should be made to the DPS curriculum. In those conversations, alumni expressed how a lack of understanding on topics such as personal finance, loans, credit cards, and budgeting resulted in long-term consequences to their livelihood. They also expressed how the history they were taught in DPS schools did not accurately reflect the stories of their communities. As a result, Ednium’s first Advocacy Accelerator Cohort advocated for the DPS Board to adopt two new courses, Financial Literacy and Cultural and Ethnic Studies, and make them graduation requirements. The Board unanimously approved the proposed policy, and Ednium began a unique, community-centered process where students, teachers, alumni, and community members engaged with specialists in curriculum development to design the courses. The Cultural and Ethnic Studies course launched in Denver Public Schools in Fall 2023 as a required 9th grade course. The Financial Literacy course launched as a pilot during the 2023-2024 school year with about 50% of schools participating. By 2024, every student will have the opportunity to receive a financial literacy education as part of their high school experience.
The Accelerator is not the only way Ednium is investing in its community. Ednium also teaches the inner workings of Denver politics to help alumni engage civically, facilitates a leadership launchpad to develop alumni leadership skills, and hosts community gatherings to cultivate relationships. Thanks to these supports and others, Ednium is undoubtedly impacting the trajectory of both current DPS students and alumni in ways that will have ripple effects for generations of DPS youth to come.
Ednium is amplifying the voices of DPS alumni to reinvent public education in Denver and beyond.
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