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CodeSpire summer camp for kids takes off with new drone, robot options

Just in time for summer, CodeSpire is launching new programs. It’s a summer camp for the 21st century, a coding camp for children to help them learn about how they can use coding to make games, apps and even how to program drones and robots. 

It’s the second year for CodeSpire, says Director Rebecca Parrent. “We have full day camps, as well as half-day camps with other on-site half-day camps from Science Matters, Sticky Fingers, and Play On!” The summer camps include CodeSpiration, exploring multiple coding languages; Python coding, to learn game coding and JavaScript camps for Minecraft mods and drones and robots. It’s the first time CodeSpire is offering a camp to program drones.

The deadline for the June camps, the first of which begin on June 12 is May 31. They’re held at a number of places in and around Denver, including Golden and Aurora. “Campers at the CU Denver campus will receive a campus tour, as well as see some technology programs that are offered at the university,” Parrent says.

Each camp can hold up to 15 people for full-day camps and 10 people for half-day camps. The day camps cost $495 and the half-day camps cost $295. However, Parrent says Confluence Denver readers can use the code “confluence" to get a $75 discount on a full-day, week long camp, if they use the code by May 15.
 

BuildStrong Education launches, supporting a foundation for education in the Front Range

Oakwood Homes has built its Foundation for Educational Excellence into BuildStrong Education. The newly launched foundation renews its focus on creating high-quality schools and improving the relationship between communities and schools to build bonds that make neighborhoods safer and stronger.

The Foundation for Educational Excellence was launched by Oakwood Homes Founder Pat Hamill in 1997. The Denver-based residential developer, has helped fund and plan numerous schools in communities it’s developed. It has invested more than $4 million into educational programs in Green Valley Ranch, Montbello and the broader Front Range. The initiatives have included professional development, student recognition, new school development and the creation of collaborative public/private partnerships. 

“Pat Hamill’s dedication to building strong schools has created tremendous educational opportunities for our children in far Northeast Denver,” explains Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. “If we want great communities, the schools will lead the way, and Oakwood Homes’ BuildStrong Education is setting the stage for these schools to soar.”

The new organization has a focus on northeast Denver, where it says only 34 percent attend high performing schools, which it calls the lowest rate in the city’s school districts. That’s despite it housing two of Denver’s highest performing schools.

The organization also will support the recently launched Colorado Homebuilding Academy. That organization is aimed at training students and others to find gainful employment in construction industries. In Colorado there are currently more construction jobs than workers. 

Colorado Homebuilding Academy trains workers for an industry that badly needs them

One of the continuing stories across Colorado, and the Denver metro area in particular, is growth. The region is experiencing nearly unprecedented employment and population expansion, thanks to numerous sectors like, such as IT and cannabis. That has also led to a construction boom and the demand for more housing, which means it needs construction workers. That’s where the newly launched, Colorado Homebuilding Academy fits in. 

The Denver-based academy is aimed at training unemployed adults, military veterans and youth for careers in homebuilding and construction. It offers a "construction skills" boot camp that lasts for eight weeks. The academy already has partnerships with five high schools. “We have high school training programs that last for a semester with our partner schools and our superintendent training program has 5 courses that last for about 9 months,” explains Michael Smith, director of the Colorado Homebuilding Academy.

“The training programs are offered at no cost to the participant if they can genuinely commit to wanting to enter the construction industry and are ready to start a career after training,” Smith says. “The tuition is covered by a blend of supporters from industry contributions, local government workforce development offices, and community grant programs.”

The need for construction workers is greater than ever as vocational training programs have waned. “Our peers in commercial construction (Associated General Contractors) commissioned an economic impact report that stated over 30,000 people are needed for the Colorado construction industry over the next 5 years...and that count is not including those that are retiring over the same period,” explains Michael Smith, director of the Colorado Homebuilding Academy. 

“Over 80 percent of the builders polled by NAHB are experiencing labor shortages that are slowing down the home building process,” Smith adds. Nationwide that means the homebuilding industry could add roughly 200,000 employees to meet the latest homebuilding boom. 

The new academy was initiated by Oakwood Homes’ CEO Pat Hamill, who brought the industry together to support it. “Oakwood Homes is leading the industry by providing substantial financial support for the development, operations and student tuition assistance programs for the Colorado Homebuilding Academy,” Smith says. “Precision Building Systems, a manufacturer of trusses and wall panels for residential construction, has donated 25,000 square feet of their manufacturing plant to house the Academy offices and training center.”

“The homebuilding industry has been plagued by a shortage of high-quality workers,” Hamill says. “Preparing and training the workforce is the key to ensuring our industry remains healthy.”

 

Colorado Technology Association wins Microsoft STEM grant for Denver students

More than 800 Denver students interested in STEM-based careers will get additional opportunities to learn through Denver Public Schools' CareerConnect program. That's thanks to a new grant awarded to the Colorado Technology Foundation, a nonprofit created by the Colorado Technology Association (CTA).

"The grant will specifically support outreach and engagement throughout the tech community, benefitting students who have opted into the TechConnect pathway of study within Denver Public Schools," explains CTA spokesperson Fred Bauters. "TechConnect courses include web design, UX/UI, coding, computer science, robotics, intro to computer design, 3D animation and video game programming." 

The amount of the annual, multi-year grant was not immediately disclosed but it is part of Microsoft's YouthSpark initiative and will help CTA continue to grow the program. The organization said that it has helped nearly 500 high school students through the program placing them with more than 60 Colorado tech. The grant from Microsoft will allow it to continue serving students prepare for the future in 2017 and beyond.

"This grant to the Colorado Technology Foundation . . . is one of the many ways we're working to create opportunities for students to connect to and pursue STEM careers," says Phil Sorgen, Microsoft corporate vice president of enterprise sales.

"The work-based learning opportunities available to students through DPS CareerConnect prepare and equip students to pursue training programs and university degrees beyond high school," Bauters says. "DPS educators and industry mentors assist students with exploring post-secondary options and considering various career opportunities."

 While the program does not directly place students into jobs, Bauters observes that "[s]tudents are occasionally hired by host companies directly out of high school -- circumventing the need (and additional expense) for additional training and/or higher education." 

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Access Gallery launches 2017 with "Stick 'em up Chuck"

Access Gallery in the Art District on Santa Fe is aimed at helping those with disabilities experience art, including by making art. Its latest gallery show, "Stick 'em up Chuck," which opens Jan. 6 and runs through Feb. 3, is a prime example of accessible art by using stickers as the medium.

The works were inspired street artists and Gonkar Gyatso, a contemporary Tibetan artist, whose work uses both Buddhist iconography and pop images like colorful children's stickers.

"We wanted to see what we could really do with everyday objects that need little if any artistic talent," explains Access Gallery Director Damon McLeese. "We have a smiley face piece made of 10,000 smiley face stickers, a huge teddy bear, a fish and a car based on one of our ArtWorks artist drawings."

The exhibit is the culmination of the VSA Colorado and Access Gallery's fall residency programs in which the participants explored mediums that are highly accessible materials for those with significant physical and mental disabilities. They focused on materials that are inexpensive, easily transported and workable as well as sticky, tacky and tactile. Stickers, they found, met those needs.

"One of our volunteers hooked us up with a bevy of stickers and we decided to make an entire gallery show made of stickers," McLeese says. Longmont, Colorado-based StickerGiant provided the bulk of raw materials for the show.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Couragion named "Startup of the Year" at 16th annual APEX Awards

The Colorado Technology Association (CTA) held its 16th annual APEX Awards, which recognizes the accomplishments of Colorado technology companies. The CTA recognized 10 people and companies for their achievements in the past year. The Startup of the Year award was granted to Couragion, which aims to help students get into STEM careers.

Couragion was selected as the most promising tech company under two years of age. The grants are awarded to a companies that’s taken initiative in its field, its innovation and finding a need in the marketplace for a product or service. 

ViaWest won the Company of the Year award. The association says the company of the year award is granted to a Colorado-based company for its overall performance as a leader in its market.The CTA helps drive economic development in Colorado, explains Michael Marcotte, CEO of Acumen Digital and CTA board chairman. "People who care about this, and care about our future generations, share a passion in creating an environment that gives us a wonderful place to live, work and play. Those honored at the 2016 APEX Awards are a great example of continuing this legacy."

Other winners included Annette Quintana, who won the CEO of the Year Award for leading Istonish; John Suthers, Colorado Springs' mayor, who won the Advocate of the Year award; and Page Tucker, CEO of ProStar Geocorp, who won the Entrepreneur Excellence Award.

The awards were presented by Accenture and granted at the Seawell Grand Ballroom Nov. 9 at a red-carpet event. Independent panels of judges selected the winners and runners-up. 

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

The Denver Art Museum seeks ideas for Untitled Final Fridays in 2017

The Denver Art Museum is hosting "Meet Here: An Evening of Untitled Idea Brewing and Creative Criss-Cross" on Nov. 18, a brainstorming event for creatives and others to generate ideas for outdoor installations, residencies and the 2017 Untitled Final Fridays series of events at the museum. The events bring local artists and the community together for exhibitions and installations. The workshop is open from 6 to 8 in the evening.

"Ideas are needed for upcoming projects including outdoor installations, residencies, and 2017's Untitled Final Fridays," explains Camila Navarrette, a spokesperson for the museum. "Local craftsmen, chefs, musicians, artists and other movers and makers are invited to brainstorm the activities for the upcoming Untitled season and potential new programs for DAM."

The free event is being held from 6 to 8 p.m. on the first floor of the North Building and will include food and beverages from a cash bar. The event will include mini-think tank sessions where attendees will work together to generate ideas. 

People can send RSVPs to lhegge@denverartmuseum.org.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


SRI Conference comes to Denver

Sustainable and responsible investments will be at the forefront of the 27th annual SRI Conference, which has moved from Colorado Springs to Denver. The conference, being held at the Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center from Nov. 9-11, and will be headlined by former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter and Denver Chief Sustainability Officer Jerry Tinianow. 

First Affirmative Financial Network, which organizes the conference, calls it the largest annual meeting of responsible investment leaders in the U.S. The 2016 event will bring more than 650 investment professionals to Denver to discuss sustainable urban development, improve returns for philanthropic investors, clean energy policy and leveraging renewable investment opportunities.

"One of our goals this year in moving The SRI Conference from The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs to Denver was to showcase some of the leading sustainability and impact investing experts who live right in our own backyard," says Steve Schueth, president of First Affirmative Financial Network. "This year's agenda reflects a greater focus on local people and organizations that are demonstrating a more responsible approach to business and investing -- one that is geared toward shifting the paradigm and creating a truly sustainable future."

As such, roughly 30 percent of the conference sessions will feature speakers from Denver and Boulder. Tinianow, Denver's first chief sustainability officer, will discuss how his office is working to implement Mayor Michael Hancock's "Scale, and Everybody Plays" agenda. Likewise, Ritter will join former National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) Director Dan Arvizu to discuss clean energy policy in the U.S. and the opportunities it represents in terms of jobs.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

CU Denver relaunches Nobel at Noon Series

Nobel at Noon has returned to CU Denver. It's a lunch-and-learn series of discussions open to the public about each of the Nobel prize categories and the ideas that win them. The discussions began on Friday Oct. 28 and are occurring every Friday at noon through Dec. 9 at the CU Denver Welcome Center in Admissions at the Student Commons Building.

CU Denver previously hosted the Nobel at Noon series most years from the mid-1980s to 2008. Previously it was for students staff and faculty, but the university is now inviting the public to join. 

"The series focuses on the Nobel Prize winners who were announced this fall and what the award-winning research means for society," says Emily Williams, a CU Denver spokesperson. She adds, "This Friday’s talk is about the prize winner in Medicine. The winner this year was Yoshinori Ohsumi, who won for a discovery he made about how cells stay healthy, which is critical in cancer research. Dr. Chris Phiel is the CU Denver faculty member giving the talk this week and he is amazing! In his lab, students also study cell behavior, so he should give a great presentation."

"We're really trying to involve the local community, particularly people who work downtown in this series," Williams says. "One of Chancellor Dorothy Horrell's key priorities is to make CU Denver a place where the downtown community can engage with our faculty and their research and we're very excited about this series."
 
During the series, CU Denver faculty will discuss the meaning, details and importance of each Nobel Prize in an informal presentation and discussion format. The presenters will explain the history behind each prize, its importance and help the audience gain a more practical understanding as to why the award matters.

The remaining events include:
 
  • Nov. 4: Nobel Prize in Medicine with Dr. Chris Phiel
  • Nov. 11: Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences with Dr. Phil Luck
  • Nov. 18: Nobel Prize in Peace with Dr. Manuel Espinoza 
  • Dec. 2: Nobel Prize in Literature with Dr. Sam McGuire
  • Dec. 9: Nobel Prize in Physics with Dr. Martin Huber
Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

DUGood is the University of Denver's new crowdfunding platform

The Pioneers are forging ahead with a new crowdfunding tool to finance projects on the University of Denver campus. To help faculty, students and staff develop impactful projects, the school recently launched its new DUGood site.

Crowdfunding has helped many small businesses get their feet on the ground or get their first order completed. In this case, however, the university is making sure that the projects created and are committed to improving the campus and the services it offers. 

One of the first projects on the site is an effort to create a Student Emergency Fund. The fund will provide support to university students facing emergency situations from the need for textbooks to the need for emergency travel. Another project aims to support the Daniels Student & Refugee Partnership to mentor resettled refugees through the African
Community Center.

While only staff, students and faculty can propose a project, anyone can donate any amount they please to support the projects of their choice. What's more, even if a project isn't fully funded the project organizers will receive what they raised through the DUGood platform within 60 days of a campaign closing.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

CU Denver launches 15th annual THE CLIMB business plan competition

THE CLIMB, a competition to develop a business plan through the University of Colorado Denver's Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship, is set to begin its 15th year with a new, non-collegiate competition, expanded footprint and a citizen vote. The competition, which starts Sept. 8, will culminate in an award event on Nov. 10.

The goal of the competition is to help entrepreneurs transform concepts into viable businesses through mentorship opportunities. Previously, the competition was only available to college students but now includes a non-collegiate track for Colorado-based startups. In addition the competition is now open to collegiate applicants from Arizona as well as students from Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Montana. 

Since the competition began in 2001, it's awarded $1 million and shared more than 500 mentor hours. Some of the previous winners of THE CLIMB include Rosenberg's Bagels, AppIt Venturesbeautifuli.com and Living Ink Technologies, says Sarah Engel, assistant director of the Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship. "Rosenberg's Bagels is definitely recognizable in Denver," Engel says. 

"With thousands of business plan competitions available in the U.S. alone, these events are more than just a means to fund a big idea," says Madhavan Parthasarathy, director of the Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship and an associate professor at CU Denver. "We redesigned our competition to deliver a comprehensive, real-world business and learning experience. The caliber of entrepreneurial experts, organizations and faculty that teams have access to in this competition is truly priceless. The financial payout is simply a bonus." 

Judges, including namesake Jake Jabs, will send 10 collegiate teams to the semi-finals. During the Collegiate & Community Pitch Night on Oct. 13 the audience will have the opportunity to invest "CLIMB cash" to advance one more collegiate team and three community startup businesses to the finals event in November. "As a public university with strong ties to our community, we wanted to give people an opportunity to engage in the competition and cast their vote for who they think would keep Colorado's entrepreneurial spirit moving forward," Parthasarathy says.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Rose Community Foundation awarding Innovate for Good grants

The Rose Community Foundation will host an event at the Cable Center on Sept. 14 to award grants through its Innovate for Good program, which is supporting youth projects and youth-adult projects with a total of $250,000. The program announced the nine finalists for the youth-adult partnerships this week and will choose the six awardees, each of which will receive $30,000 to realize their projects, at the event.

The organization already selected four youth-led projects to each receive a $5,000 grant and support to realize their projects. The youth awards will support the CeC Early College Mentorship Program, which will mentor-match high school junior students with high-school freshmen; the Juniors for Seniors project to build one-on-one relationships with teen volunteers and nursing home residents; the Stories Worth Saving project for teens to document stories of assisted-living residents; and the Theatre for Social Change Group project which aims to offer teens ways to use the arts to explore difficult social issues. 

For 2016, the second year for the awards, the foundation asked youth and youth partnering with adults to develop projects that answer the question: "What idea could you bring to life to empower youth to make the community better?"

Last year's awards challenge didn't have a thematic focus, according to Sarah Indyk, Rose Community Foundation's director of special projects. This year it was separated into two different pathways, with the youth awards and the youth-adult awards. "The youth-led projects were really conceived of by youths without formal adult partners," she explains. She adds that since the adult-youth partnership projects are a lot different it made sense to go through a parallel process; the Sept. 14 event will decide which youth-adult projects will be funded.

“Both groups will benefit from extensive training coaching and support from the Youth Leadership Institute,” Indyk says. "We're running a full incubator providing support to all awardees and finalists. It's a way we could support all the finalists even if they don't receive funds. That amounts to $50,000 in additional support."

Visit rcfdenver.org/IFG to learn more about the program and finalists.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Colorado STEMworks helps investors find STEM programs

Colorado STEM has added six science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs ideal for investment to its STEMWorks database.Three of the programs in the database were newly added, the three others moved up in the program, joining a number of other programs in the database that the organizers deem investment worthy for business leaders, funders and advocates.

Colorado STEMworks lists more than 20 programs as potentially worthy of investment, up from seven programs in its first year. These include locally grown programs like Denver Public Schools CareerConnect, Denver Museum of Nature and Science's Urban Advantage Metro Denver and local versions of Smithsonian Science Education Center's Leadership Assistance for Science Education Reform.

Adams 12 Five Star SchoolsSTEMinspired, Open World Learning and ST Math were added to the Colorado STEMworks database. KidsTek and LAB-AIDS boosted their status in the database from "Promising to Accomplished."

"Defining quality in STEM education and supporting programs to meet a high bar of excellence for Colorado students ensures that companies have a way to make meaningful investments in education," said Angela Baber, STEM Director of the Colorado Education Initiative (CEI). "We are delighted to be welcoming more programs into this growing coalition of STEM programs that we know deliver results for Colorado kids and Colorado companies." The STEMworks database is organized by CEI and the Colorado Technology Association using the national Change the Equation model of application and review to add programs.

The program has drawn investments from major local companies like Arrow Electronics. "Arrow's investment in STEMworks is an opportunity to help shape the next generation of employees," said Alex West, corporate social responsibility manager at Arrow. "Will they work for Arrow some day? Who knows, but I certainly hope so." 

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


Mile High WorkShop expands, offers local makers space

Mile High WorkShop, an innovative job training program that helps disadvantaged people learn employable skills, is expanding. The workshop, which launched in 2014, is expanding into a 13,000-square-foot space where other businesses will have an opportunity to rent space.

"A larger space will allow us to grow our business and increase our ability to employ and train members of our community who are rebuilding from prison, addictions and homelessness," says Mile High WorkShop Director Andy Magel. "The additional square footage provides room to partner with innovative businesses in town while furthering our job-creation mission."

Magel says Mile High Workshop will share the new location with Bud's Warehouse. Local businesses and makers can rent the space on a sliding scale. If the business uses Mile High WorkShop's employees and their services, which include woodworking, laser engraving, packaging and assembly services, they can get lower rent.

The workshop already has more than 20 partners, including furniture making for Relevant ReUse and Old Wood Soul. It also manufactures pillows for V&R Naturals and makes camera accessories for Artisan Obscura, among others.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Colorado Technology Association starts tech internship accelerator

To encourage high schoolers to enter or consider careers in the booming tech industry, the Colorado Technology Association (CTA) partnered with Denver Public Schools and DPS CareerConnect and more than 20 civic and industry partners to launch the inaugural Civic Tech Internship Accelerator (CTIA). The new program for high schoolers was launched last week with 34 high school student interns.

Students from three DPS schools -- Abraham Lincoln, West and High Tech Early College (HITEC) -- are participating in the program. The curriculum will cover cybersecurity, cloud computing, GIS, UX and design sketching, creativity software and other technologies to show them what directions the industries are moving in and what opportunities are available while equipping them with the skills and knowledge for such careers.

The accelerator is not a full internship program, explains Program Coordinator Cyrus Martin. "It is an accelerator coinciding with DPS CareerLaunch, occurring every Friday during the six-week program." CareerLaunch is part of DPS CareerConnect program for students.

Fifteen companies are participating in the program. Among them are: Apple, Bit by Bit Analytics, Choozle, Coastal Cloud, Couragion, DaVita, Handy Networks, Ibotta, KidsTek, Minerva, OhHeckYeah, Secure Set, Turing, Universal Mind and Zayo Group.

Martin says that the junior and senior student interns work with their host organizations most of the week fulfilling 20 of their required 25 CareerLaunch hours. "We are fulfilling the other five each Friday by delivering 15 one- to two-hour industry-led tech trainings."

Currently, the internships are singular opportunities for the students and aren’t tied in with other local training programs or colleges directly, according to Martin. However, "Some of the civic hosting partners have expressed to the students that there are other opportunities to stay involved and some have informed students of additional, longer-term internship opportunities within their companies/organizations," he says.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

45 Education Articles | Page: | Show All
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