At-risk kids receive education boost

Leadership program awakens opportunities

Fourteen high school students from some of Denver’s most at-risk communities graduated from the 19th annual Porter-Billups Leadership Academy at Regis University June 26. The program, that helps prepare students for college, is a joint effort of longtime Regis University men’s basketball coach, Lonnie Porter; and National Basketball Association All-Star and Denver native Chauncey Billups. Both men, who distributed certificates at the graduation ceremony, grew up in inner-city neighborhoods.

The academy works with youth from grades four through 12 to develop leadership, critical thinking and conflict resolution skills through a rigorous three-week academic program each summer. There are currently 126 youth participating in the program founded by Porter in 1996; with Billups joining in 2006. In addition to the intense summer curriculum, students and families receive year-round support to further encourage their educational ambitions.

“The ultimate goal of the academy is to awaken students to the opportunities available to them and empower them to own their decisions by making thoughtful contributions to shape their futures,” according to Porter. “The program is working.”

Since the first graduating class in 2002, 98 percent of students participating have completed high school on time, and 92 percent have continued to college. More than half, 53 percent, have graduated with a college degree. Regis University also assists academy graduates with scholarship opportunities. To learn more about the Porter-Billups Leadership Academy, visit

Porter-Billups Leadership Academy | By the Numbers

Complete high school on time: 98%
Continue to college: 92%
From families where parents have not completed college: 85%
Students of color: 90%
From families with incomes below federal poverty guidelines: 36%
Students participating for 6 to10 continuous years: 48

COMING UP: Colorado bishops issue letter on the Hyde Amendment and other pro-life Congressional policies

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We, the Catholic bishops of Colorado, urge Congressional Representatives to support the Hyde Amendment and the Walden Amendment. We also ask the Faithful to sign The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) petition to lawmakers encouraging them to preserve the Hyde Amendment, which can be accessed at:, and to contact their Congressmen and women to support the Hyde and Walden amendments.

The House Appropriations Labor and Health and Human Services subcommittee recently passed a spending bill that strips protections for pre-born children, healthcare providers,and American taxpayers by excluding pro-life provisions, including the Hyde and Weldon amendments.

The Hyde Amendment, which prohibits taxpayer dollars from being used to fund abortion in most cases, except for rape and incest, has received bipartisan support since its inception in 1976 – including by pro-abortion administrations. Hyde is critical in saving lives. The Charlotte Lozier Institute estimates that approximately 60,000 pre-born babies are saved every year because of the Hyde Amendment.[1] This is the first time in 40 years that the Hyde Amendment was not included in the annual appropriations bill[2] and failure to include pro-life amendments will only further increase divisions in our country.

The Weldon Amendment prevents any federal programs, agencies, and state and local governments from discriminating against health care practitioners and institutions that do not provide abortion services. It ensures that pro-life individuals and organizations can enter the health care profession without fearing that the government will force them to perform a procedure that violates their well-founded convictions. It has also received bipartisan support and was added to the appropriations bill every year since it was first enacted in 2005. [3]

Congress’ recent actions endanger the lives of pre-born children and infringe on the rights of millions of Americans who do not wish to participate in the moral evil of abortion. A recent Knights of Columbus/Marist poll found that 58 percent of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortions[4] and a 2019 Gallup poll shows that 60 percent of Americans think abortion should either be illegal or only legal in a few circumstances.[5]

The government should neither use taxpayer funds for the killing of pre-born children nor compel medical practitioners and institutions to violate their well-founded convictions. Congress must uphold these long-standing, common-sense bipartisan policies that promote a culture of life in our nation.

Human reason and science affirm that human life begins at conception. The Church objects to abortion on the moral principle that each and every human life has inherent dignity, and thus must be treated with respect due to every human person. There has never been and never will be a legitimate need to abort a baby in the womb.

It is critical that Congress continue its long-history of supporting policies such as the Hyde and Walden amendments, and that all Colorado Catholics and people of good will make their voice heard in supporting these life-affirming policies.

Sign the petition to Congress here:

Contact your Congressional Representatives here:

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Samuel J. Aquila
Archbishop of Denver

Most Reverend Stephen J. Berg
Bishop of Pueblo

Most Reverend James R. Golka
Bishop of Colorado Springs

Most Reverend Jorge Rodriguez
Auxiliary Bishop of Denver