Denver, Colorado (May 22, 2013) – On the evening of June 5, over 60 youth, all of whom are experiencing homelessness or are at imminent risk of a life on the streets, will hear a sound that until recently they never dreamt was possible: the roaring of applause as they cross the stage at Urban Peak’s annual GED Graduation Ceremony.
The event, to be held at the St. Cajetan’s Center on the Auraria Campus, will honor a select group of over 350 youth who received support from Urban Peak this academic year and worked tirelessly to pass the five required exams to earn their GED. Also donning a cap and gown at the ceremony will be at least six youth from Urban Peak who, despite their circumstances, re-engaged in public school and graduated from high school this year, some with the help of Urban Peak partner, Colorado Youth for a Change (CYC).
The GED and high school graduates participating in the ceremony are all clients of Urban Peak, a Denver-based non-profit organization that serves youth ages 15 to 25 who are experiencing homelessness. In addition to its education classes, Urban Peak provides numerous programs and services including a 40-bed overnight shelter, daytime drop-in center and activities, transitional housing, employment services, life skills courses, mental health evaluations, meals and more.
“Graduating from high school or earning a GED is an honor, but for the youth we serve, it’s more than that; it’s a symbol of self empowerment, commitment to change and a path to self-sufficiency,” said Kimberle Easton, CEO of Urban Peak. “This academic milestone is one that will not only build confidence in the youth, but also reinstate their hope for their future.”
Many Urban Peak clients ended up on the streets after escaping a life where they were physically, sexually or emotionally abused at the hands of a caretaker; after years of watching their parents succumb to a life of drugs and crime; after combating a mental illness; or after aging out of the foster care system.
“Regardless of how the youth we serve came to experience homelessness, we know they have all experienced trauma to some degree, and earning a GED or re-engaging in public school, especially after spending night after night on the streets or bouncing from one friend’s couch to the next, is a tremendous feat,” continued Easton. “We are immensely proud of our graduates and we are thrilled to honor them at our upcoming GED graduation ceremony.”
Colorado Graduation Rates Among Homeless Youth
According to reports issued by the Colorado Department of Education, the on-time graduation rate for students attending Colorado public schools during the 2011-12 school year was 75.4 percent. For students who are experiencing homelessness, that number is a lot lower, more than quarter less than the statewide average, at 49.1 percent. Records from the Colorado Department of Education indicate that of the 2,394 homeless students eligible for graduation this past academic year, only 1,175 graduated.
According to the 2012 Point in Time study conducted by the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative (MDHI), there are 777 youth ages 13 to 24, experiencing homeless on any given night in Denver. In fiscal year 2012 (October 1, 2011 – September 30, 2012), Urban Peak served 2,550 youth across all its programs and services.
Community Partnership: Colorado Youth for a Change
In addition to helping youth who experience homeless obtain their GEDs, Urban Peak helps youth re-engage in high school through the organization’s partnership with Colorado Youth for a Change (CYC). This academic year, Urban Peak referred a record number of youth to CYC, who helped 18 of the youth re-enroll in high school, and seven who were already enrolled in high school obtain the additional services they need (bus passes, academic support, snacks, etc.) to be successful.
Urban Peak’s GED Graduation
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
St. Cajetan’s Center // Auraria Campus
900 Auraria Parkway // Denver, Colorado
Approximately 60 graduates, all of whom received their GED or high school diploma as a result of their participation in Urban Peak’s programs.
About Urban Peak’s Education & Employment Department
Urban Peak’s Education & Employment Department helps youth experiencing homelessness and youth at imminent risk of becoming homeless on their respective paths to self-sufficiency through achieving academic and employment success. Urban Peak offers individual and small group instruction to help youth obtain their GED (General Education Development or high school equivalency degree), re-enroll in high school or complete remaining coursework needed to graduate, and explore and apply for post-secondary educational opportunities through college or technical school. Urban Peak’s employment services include a Job Readiness Training course that includes hard and soft skills training including cover letter and resume development, job search techniques and interviewing skills, job retention training, time and money management and more.
About Urban Peak
Founded in 1988, Urban Peak is the only non-profit organization in Denver that provides a full convergence of services for youth ages 15 to 25 experiencing homelessness or youth who are at imminent risk of becoming homeless. Urban Peak serves youth along their individual journeys to self-sufficiency in providing numerous amenities, programs and services including a 40-bed shelter, daytime drop-in center and activities, transitional housing, education and employment services, case management, life skills courses, mental health evaluations, meals and more. In fiscal year 2012, Urban Peak served 2,550 unduplicated youth. For more information, visit www.urbanpeak.org.