As a Stand fellow, I have been able to gain insight on how the Stand team works with the community to ensure that the policies they advocate for are ones that make schools and the overall community a more equitable and just environment.  I appreciate that Stand has been a conduit for advancing policies that families and educators have input on.

As a recent graduate of a master’s in social work, I have witnessed the shift within the Colorado education system to include a focus on a holistic approach where physical and mental health is seen as a crucial component of child development. I understand the intersectionality of issues and inequities our education and court system play, thus I am excited to tell you more about what the team has set out to accomplish this year.

In the upcoming school year and legislative session, Stand is prioritizing work that will: 

  • Early Literacy | Understand need so we can better support educators to use the science of reading and evidence-based curriculums and practices in their literacy instruction. 
  • High School Success | Expand funding for the Ninth Grade On-Track grant program, to see continued growth and improvement in on-time high school graduations 
  • Justice System Reform | Help prevent recidivism in our justice system by updating probation and parole supervision to include remote check-in options and expanding access/increase eligibility for criminal record sealing
  • Justice System Reform | Reduce unjust fees for incarcerated individuals and their families. 
  • Supportive Schools Promote educator diversity by securing continued funding for policies that create equity in teacher preparation and alternative pathways to enter the workforce.
  • Supportive Schools | Continue the work for the Language Justice policy of Denver Public Schools to be fully realized in school buildings 
  • Supportive Schools | Promote community engagement and participation in the creation of a transparent and informative dashboard in Denver Public Schools

Each time that I’ve participated in legislative sessions, I feel well supported and the folks at Stand make the process much less intimidating. So, I encourage you to learn more about the work that interests you the most, by filling out this form. I hope to work with you as we fight for educational and youth justice in our community.  

Pamela Kaspar
Pamela Kaspar

Advocacy Fellow

Top Legislative Priorities Now Law

We are thrilled that all of our top priority bills have been signed into law. 

In our blog, you will find updates on each of the policy priorities we shared prior to the legislative session focused on advancing educational equity, youth and racial justice in Colorado, and making our schools and communities safer and more supportive.  

We are so grateful to the many advocates, partners, and policymakers we worked alongside to bring these policies to fruition. Parents, educators and community leaders participated in listening sessions last summer to identify needs and policy solutions, engaged with lawmakers, testified before committees and shared their experiences with members of the media. Hundreds of advocates sent thousands of emails to policymakers, and 27 shared their lived experiences in testimony before committees nearly 60 times.  These impactful policy changes will mean more and better support for Colorado students and educators. They represent steps toward safer and more supportive schools and communities for all Coloradans. 

Advocates at Stand for Children day at the Capitol

Advocates Join Stand for Day at the Capitol 

More than a dozen parents, educators and community leaders joined our team for a day at the Capitol. These advocates were briefed on the latest on key policies moving through the Capitol, listened to Senate floor debate (and were even invited to sit on the Senate floor), got a tour of the Capitol and shared their policy priorities. “I am very fortunate to be here today with Stand. For many years, I have involved myself into the practices and policies of schools, but I’ve never really had the opportunity to dive in and really make a difference at in the policies that are implemented at the state level. This is really what we need in order to be able to make the changes for our kids.”  Flor Orozco, parent and Stand Advocacy Fellow.

Advancing Language Justice in Denver Public Schools

We are thrilled to announce that after months of collaboration, learning, and relationship-building, Language Justice was added as a priority as an ENDS statement that talks about equity in Denver Public Schools (DPS). ENDS statements are “description of the long-term goals for the district”.  This statement was approved by the DPS Board of Education.

Language Justice is defined as a commitment to ensuring all voices are heard and understood in the process of community engagement. It is more than having access to translators and interpreters, it is a practice to create inclusive and equitable spaces so that community, families, students, and staff can participate in the language of their heart. Read more.  

Funding Expanded for Ninth Grade On-Track Program

$1.6 million for the Ninth Grade Success Grant program was included in HB23-1231, Math in Pre-Kindergarten Through Twelfth Grade. This funding will help ensure that more Colorado students finish their 9th-grade year on track and graduate high school prepared for post-secondary success.

Read more about our Center for High School Success. 

Lauren Kinney shares her experience from Day at the Capitol

“I’ve been working with Stand as a fellow and it has invited me to take up space in politics that I never really thought I belonged in or never knew the right entry point. Now because of this I feel inspired to do more community organizing to find ways that I can advocate not only for students but also for members of the queer community, and BIPOC voices. I believe that Stand is doing some incredible work.” Lauren Kinney, educator and Stand Advocacy Fellow

Bri Buentello, Stand Government Affairs Director and former Special Education Educator on legislation that will expand translation of individualized education plans

“I’ve seen the disproportionate impact that a language barrier brings, specifically in Latino kids,” she said. “It’s going to drastically increase parental involvement in the IEP process. This is going to lead to us better serving students.”  

Learn More

Early Literacy Educators: We Want to Hear from You!

Stand for Children Colorado will be publishing a report to give an update on the impact of literacy policy in recent years, including the passage of the READ Act in 2012 and subsequent updates related to evidence-based curriculum alignment, teacher and principal training in the science of reading, and increased funding for early literacy grants.  

We will be centering educator voice and experience, so if you are an early literacy educator and/or K-3 classroom teacher or administrator, please take a few minutes to complete this survey. Our goal is to hear from as many Colorado educators as possible, so please consider sharing this with your colleagues.  

Learn more about our early literacy work. 

Thank you for Standing

Language Justice is defined as a commitment to ensuring all voices are heard and understood in the process of community engagement. It is more than having access to translators and interpreters, it is a practice to create inclusive and equitable spaces so that community, families, students, and staff can participate in the language of their heart. 

Language Justice has been a practice Stand for Children strives to deliver in all spaces we hold for community. We believe that if people communicate and understand content in the language of their heart, power is secured to make meaningful change. Even though Stand works hard to attain all resources, like interpreters, translators, translations, and equipment to deliver a language just space, we recognize that there are other spaces that families attend that might not uphold the same practice. To ensure that we are promoting positive and equitable changes in institutions that surround our community, the Stand team set their eyes on securing a policy add-on about language justice in Denver Public School (DPS) policy. 

We are thrilled to announce that after months of collaboration, learning, and relationship-building, Language Justice was added as a priority as an ENDS statement that talks about equity in Denver Public Schools (DPS). ENDS statements are “description of the long-term goals for the district”.  This statement was approved by the DPS board of education on May 18, 2023.’

ENDS 1 – Equity  
DPS will be a district that is free of oppressive systems and structures rooted in racism and one which centers students and team members with a focus on racial and educational equity, enabling students to ultimately become conscientious global citizens and collaborative leaders.  
DPS has a collective responsibility to uphold the practice of Racial Equity, and Educational and Language Justice in all of its forms by honoring language and culture as fundamental human rights. We will achieve equity when we identify and remove deeply rooted systems of oppression that have historically resulted in inequitable access and distribution of opportunities and resources for those who represent marginalized identities, including but not limited to race, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, language and ability. 

DPS ends 1.0 policy

Although this was a clear achievement, and we applaud the board for their leadership, we will be working to ensure the promise of this statement is reached and felt by the community by holding DPS accountable in practicing their policy.  We are still working on the implementation factor to address the inequities we see and hear about so much when it comes to language accessibility.  

We would like to thank the DPS staff and Board members that guided and advocated for Language Justice and look forward to monitoring and improving the practice in all spaces DPS holds.  Sign a thank you note to the board!

Colorado’s 2023 Legislative Session is in Full Swing 

At Stand for Children Colorado, we advocate for policy solutions in the areas of early literacy, high school success, diversifying and supporting the teacher workforce and safe and supportive schools and communities. This session we are proud to be championing and supporting key bills to support Colorado’s students, educators, and families.    

This session, we are prioritizing policies to: 

  • Expand funding for the Ninth Grade On-Track and Expelled and At-Risk Student Services (EARSS) grant programs. 
  • Expand and diversify the educator workforce. 
  • Fight for equitable school funding. 
  • Create protections for juveniles through interrogation and detention reforms
  • Update probation and parole supervision to include remote check-in options and early release for education credits earned. 
  • Create access to free phone calls from prison or jail. 

Centering Parent, Educator and Community Voice at the Capitol 

At Stand Colorado, we deeply believe that policy making is most effective when the voices of those impacted are at the center of decision making. That’s why we support parent, educator, and community advocates to share their testimonies with lawmakers during Senate and House committee meetings. We’re sharing a few of those testimonies here:  

Let’s provide mental health assessments for students | parent and Stand Community Organizer, Natalie Perez, testifies in support of HB23-1003, School Mental Health Assessment.  

Young people are especially vulnerable to falsely confessing under the pressure of deception | community leader, Lindsay Saunders-Velez, testifies in support of HB23- 1042, Admissibility Standards For Juvenile Statements.   We cannot afford not to invest in our education workforce | Colorado educator, Anthony Abel-Pype testifies in support of HB23-1001, Expanding Assistance For Educator Programs. 

Expanding and Diversifying Colorado’s Educator Workforce 

Stand Colorado has championed efforts to develop and pass, and now continue to advocate for, innovative policy solutions to address financial and other barriers to educators entering the workforce to ensure an expanded and more diverse educator workforce, which is critical for all of Colorado’s students to experience just and supportive schools.  

In 2023, we are support three key bills to remove barriers and expand and diversify the teacher pipeline in Colorado – HB23-1001 Expanding Assistance For Educator Programs, SB23-087 Teacher Degree Apprenticeship Program, and HB23-1064 Interstate Teacher Mobility Compact.  Learn more here

The 9th Grade Approach: A CHSS Showcase 

This January, we hosted a virtual event, The 9th Grade Approach: A CHSS Showcase in partnership with Colorado’s Center for High School Success (CHSS), a project of Stand for Children. Educators, lawmakers, and community members joined us to learn about the research driving the 9th Grade Success model, coaching and support CHSS provides in Colorado’s schools, and demonstrated student outcomes in the 2021-22 school year.

Yaeel Duarte, Stand Advocacy Fellow, testifies in support of HB23-1042 

“I cannot imagine the powerlessness parents might feel to know that their children could be in a position where an adult in power could be using dishonest tactics to drive them into confessing something false. Nobody, including adults, can think clearly about future consequences under such pressure.”   

Learn More

Anthony Abel-Pype, Colorado Educator, testifies in support of HB23-1001 

“Bills that can offer incentives, financial and otherwise, for people in general, and people of color in particular, to choose a career path in education, and to stick with it, will go a long way to improving student outcomes in the state of Colorado.”  

 Learn More

Stand up for Language Justice 

We are working to expand the practice of Language Justice in Colorado and we want to hear from you! Please take a few minutes to tell us about your experience with language justice in your school district. We will be sharing what we heard with district leadership. Complete our survey here

Thank you for Standing

Stand for Children Colorado advances educational equity and racial justice in Colorado through meaningful partnerships with families, educators, schools, and policy makers. One of the ways we uphold this work is through our annual Advocacy Fellowship.   

Stand Advocacy Fellows are community leaders advocating for policy solutions towards racial justice and equity in education.  With the support of Stand staff, advocacy fellows will deep dive into issues affecting Colorado communities today, co-create solutions, democratize knowledge back to their communities, work to break down barriers to power and access decision makers, and, in the process, build long lasting relationships and invaluable skills. 

Colorado State Board of Education passes inclusive social studies standards 

Together with our supporters and other partners we raised our voices in favor of students learning accurate, fact-based accounts of history. Learn more here

Celebrating Election Results   

Volunteers sent 170,000 texts to Colorado voters to support education champions in this year’s election. In addition to the re-election of Governor Polis, and the election of Stand endorsed candidates in the State Legislature, we are incredibly excited about the election of Kathy Plomer and Rebecca McClelland to the State Board. View the full list of Stand Education Champions elected here.  

Stand Event: Engaging Through Challenges 

This October, we hosted the Center for High School Success, Teach Kindness, and Home Visit Partnerships in a free, webinar to introduce programs and strategies to support safe and supportive school environments that lead to effective student and family engagement and improved attendance.  

Lorelei, Stand Advocacy Fellow

“I am excited to continue this fellowship because Stand is dedicated to change-making for our students and communities. I am looking forward to making change through careful research, thoughtful advocacy, and strong partnerships in a state policy context. I loved working with families and the Stand for Children advocates in the past and am happy to continue that work.” 

Thank you for standing for Colorado’s students, families, and educators. Whether you’ve signed a petition, emailed your lawmaker, or shared information with your family and friends, your action matters, and so does your support. Will you donate to support our work in 2023?

Every dollar raised will go towards: 

  • Fighting to expand funding for the Ninth Grade On-Track and Expelled and At-Risk Student Services (EARSS) grant programs. 
  • Providing families with training and resources to support their students outside of the classroom through workshops and one on one support to parents/guardians in schools we partner with. 
  • Working to eliminate the, currently allowable, practice of lying to juveniles during interrogation. 
  • Continued progress on early literacy outcomes for students