Mile High United Way

Mile High United Way

Mile High United Way (MHUW) will fund subgrantee programs that leverage community volunteers to collectively address 3rd grade literacy rates in rural and urban areas across the state of Colorado. Building upon a strong state movement for reform and with strong bipartisan support from Colorado’s Governor, Lieutenant Governor and state legislature, Mile High United Way is poised to introduce key transformations in Colorado’s education system.

Grantee Information
Federal Awards: 
$3.6 million over two years (2011-2012) $3.6 million over two years (2013-2014)
Geographic Focus: 
Selected rural and urban communities throughout Colorado
Collaborating Funders: 
The Annie E. Casey Foundation; Anschutz Foundation; Gates Family Foundation; Hemera Foundation, JPMorgan Chase & Co.; The Piton Foundation.

Over the next five years, the Early Literacy SIF will showcase a systematic change in Colorado early literacy initiatives. MHUW will coordinate early childhood education programs and service providers around a shared vision of early literacy proficiency and a standardized set of outcomes, mobilize volunteers in organizations using evidence-based programs to improve early literacy proficiency rates, and demonstrate an increase of 25 percent in third grade reading proficiency levels with increasing levels of evidence.

All selected subgrantees will work closely with MHUW in collaboration with a research organization to undertake rigorous evaluations to improve the strength of their evidence. Key measurable outcomes of this program include:

  • A 25 percent increase in third grade reading proficiency levels by 2016, based on standardized testing in Colorado;
  • A robust statewide coordination of the early literacy agenda;
  • The comprehensive development of a communications plan to inform the general public about the plan to increase early grade level reading proficiencies;
  • Ongoing data measurements;
  • Consistent collaboration with early learning councils across the state to engage volunteers in this important effort; and
  • A comprehensive database of 3,000 volunteers directly implementing this initiative.

Track Record before Social Innovation Fund Grant:

  • MHUW has a history of applying evidence produced by rigorous evaluations to decision-making and to improving specific programs within this issue area, such as Making Connections-Denver funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, MHUW's community allocation process and the nationally recognized Denver's Road Home.
  • MHUW has incorporated evidence in the support of replication and expansion of grantees by working with school districts on designing and evaluating after-school models.


  • MHUW currently funds 10 subgrantees working to increase 3rd grade reading proficiency by 2016;
  • Subgrantees served more than 10,000 children.

Nonprofits Receiving Social Innovation Fund Awards from Mile High United Way

Clayton Early LearningReading Partners
Colorado HumanitiesSave the Children Federation (Inactive)
Colorado Parent & Child FoundationSummit54
Colorado Statewide Parent CoalitionThe Bridge Project
Denver Public Schools Foundation (Inactive)The Jefferson County Foundation

Clayton Early Learning
Denver, Colorado
Initial Award Amount: $159,417
Area Served: Northeast, Far Northeast, Southwest, and Southeast Denver neighborhoods comprise the traditional service areas of Clayton, Mile High Montessori and includes a footprint in “Children’s Corridor” of Denver

Children need to experience the wonder of storytelling and books within environments rich in vocabulary and oral language to become proficient in reading and writing. Ready to Read will use Dialogic Reading and Cradling Literacy in center-based and Play and Learn settings to provide early childhood educators, families and volunteers the necessary skills to help increase children’s oral language and vocabulary skills in schools and at home. The LENA System, an innovative assessment tool, will measure language interactions between children and adults participating in Ready to Read.
Proposed Total Number of New Children Served in Year 1: 643
Center-based infant/toddlers, Dialogic Reading replication: 80
Center-based preschoolers, Dialogic Reading replication: 500
Play and Learn Groups infants/toddlers, Dialogic Reading replication: 38
Play and Learn Groups infants/toddlers, Dialogic Reading expansion: 25
Age Group: Birth – PreK2

Colorado Humanities
Greenwood Village, Colorado
Initial Award Amount: $240,260
Area Served: 32 Colorado counties—Pueblo, Garfield, Denver, Bent, Prowers, Otero, Crowley, Rio Grande, Conejos, Costilla, Las Animas, Baca, Huerfano, Saguache, Custer, Mesa, Kit Carson, Lincoln, Alamosa, Archuleta, Montezuma, San Miguel, Delta, Garfield, Eagle, Larimer, Routt, Weld, Summit, El Paso

The purpose of Motheread/Fatheread Colorado (MFC) is to augment children’s schoolreadiness and optimize their literacy skills and ongoing success in school by helping to create a reading environment in the home, increasing the frequency and quality of being read to by parents, childcare providers and early childhood educators, who may have low literacy skills themselves. Offering a high-quality, proven curricula to literacy educators in 2012-2013, we will conduct four three-day Motheread or Teacheread institutes and 25 one-day Story Exploring training institutes, and provide select, high-quality, age-appropriate Motheread books to Motheread sites in Colorado.
Age Group: up to 8 years old (3rd grade)

Colorado Parent & Child Foundation
Denver, Colorado
Initial Award Amount: $371,097
Area Served: Adams, Alamosa, Boulder, Crowley, Denver, Fremont, Larimer, Montrose, Ouray, Pueblo, Rio Grande, Saguache, San Miguel, and Summit Counties, Colorado

The Colorado Parent & Child Foundation promotes and supports high-quality early childhood programs and family initiatives which inspire parent involvement and facilitate school readiness. As the nationally designated state office for HIPPY (the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters) and PAT (Parents as Teachers), the Colorado Parent & Child Foundation provides statewide leadership to the network of HIPPY and PAT program sites across the state. These evidence-based early childhood home visitation programs provide parents of young children with the knowledge, tools, and support they need to guide their children's growth, learning, and development. The programs provide intensive, ongoing home visitation, monthly group meetings, health and developmental screenings and assessments, and a resource network. Decades of rigorous research have proven these programs to have statistically significant impacts and sustained results relating to children's school readiness and success.
PAT: 175
HIPPY: 120
Age Group: Birth - 53

Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition Westminster, Colorado
Initial Award Amount: $168,645
Area Served: Boulder County, Colorado

Through the Social Innovation Fund grant, Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition will expand the training capacity to expand by 20-30 new family friend neighbor providers and provide extensive training that will increase the quality of education and care for the children in their care. The primary goal is to close the achievement gap and have more Latino children ready to enter kindergarten.
Age Group: Birth - 5

Denver Public Schools Foundation
Denver, Colorado
Initial Award Amount: $106,842
Area Served: Denver, CO

Each One Teach One (EOTO) is one of the highly-effective strategies used within Denver Public Schools to promote early literacy, particularly among English Language Learners. EOTO provides intensive, one-on-one vocabulary learning and conversation and has the unique advantage of going beyond the required curriculum to engage children. By using art, fitness, and the outdoors as contexts for learning, all the while encouraging rigorous dialogue and vocabulary acquisition, students learn through a playful and diverse curriculum. EOTO relies on certified teachers and trained volunteers for implementation. With support through the SIF grant, one of our objectives is to measure the strength of the relationship between vocabulary and reading proficiency.
Age Group: PreK – 3rd Grade

Reading Partners
Oakland, California
Initial Award Amount: $349,000
Area Served: Adams, Denver, Larimer, El Paso Counties, Colorado Reading Partners, a national nonprofit working in 5 states, provides volunteer- led, one-on-one literacy tutoring to 3,000 K-5 students from low-income families with a success rate of nearly 90% in helping students improve their performance in reading.

At each of its school sites, Reading Partners transforms a dedicated space within the school into a reading center and recruits and trains community volunteers to tutor students utilizing a highly structured and research-validated curriculum to work one-on-one with students who have fallen behind in reading. Reading Partners has been invited by local communities to help support Colorado’s children. Through the Mile High United Way Early Literacy SIF grant, Reading Partners seeks to measurably improve reading skills and life opportunities for thousands of children across 4 Colorado and to provide a meaningful, structured method for community volunteers to engage with their local schools.
Age Group: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade

Save the Children Federation
DC, Washington
Initial Award Amount: $400,000
Area Served: Costilla and Alamosa County, Colorado

Early Steps to School Success is an evidenced-based, cost-effective, and highly respected home visiting model for parents of children birth to five years of age. ESSS provides education and family support through home visits, group meetings, school connections, a book exchange, and transition to school activities, community collaborations and staff training and support. ESSS is building strong foundations for parenting and school readiness that is a powerful catalyst in helping children achieve a lifetime of learning. Save the Children has been invited by local communities to help support Colorado’s children through implementation of this program.
Age Group: Birth – 5

Denver, Colorado
Initial Award Amount: $293,038
Area Served: Garfield, Pitkin and Eagle Counties, Colorado

By harnessing the power of summer learning, Summer Advantage USA aims to raise the educational achievement of all students (whom we call "scholars"). Focused on both the academic and social development of scholars in grades K to 3 for this partnership, Summer Advantage offers rigorous academic instruction in the morning and a diverse array of enrichment in the afternoon; a healthy breakfast and lunch; inspirational guest speakers and field trips to landmarks and universities. Summer Advantage scholars gain over 2 months of literacy and math skills, reverse the erosion of skills that traditionally happens during the summer, and return to school with a tremendous head start and confidence in their ability to succeed.
Age Group: Kindergarten – 3rd Grade5

The Bridge Project
Denver, Colorado
Initial Award Amount: $118,110
Area Served: Denver, CO

The Bridge Project is receiving funding through the Early Literacy Social Innovation Fund to expand and intensify their early literacy intervention through quality instruction and one-to-one volunteer tutor relationships. Funds will also be used to expand the rigor of evaluation and fidelity of our programs to enable the Bridge Project to replicate the model across public housing developments in the future. The Bridge Project is eager to learn and share best practices in early literacy intervention both statewide and nationally.
Age Group: Kindergarten – 3rd Grade

The Jefferson Foundation
Lakewood, Colorado
Initial Award Amount: $121,339
Area Served: Jefferson County, CO

To counteract summer reading loss in four high-poverty, low-resource neighborhoods in eastern Jefferson County, the project will replicate and expand the evidence-based literacy instruction framework and curricula used during the regular school year into the summer months. The program, which will be housed within the neighborhood schools, will provide a three-hour instructional block daily over the course of an eight-week program to help struggling readers entering Kindergarten, first, second and third grade maintain and improve their proficiency with various components of literacy. The goal of the program is to improve the third grade literacy rate by at least 25%, as measured by TCAP and future state tests, at the participating schools within four years.
Age Group: Kindergarten – 3rd Grade

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