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At-risk kids receive education boost

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.org.

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

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