We’re helping build community, connections, opportunities and the future.
We have a long track record of innovative, community-based approaches to educational improvement.
In 1997, the Foundation for Educational Excellence is founded by Pat Hamill, CEO Oakwood Homes and Marshall Kaplan, University of Colorado at Denver.
The Foundation served as a convener, planner, funder and implementation partner in the following three milestones:
- In 1998. the 21st Century High Tech Academies opened at Martin Luther King Middle School and Montbello High School. These “schools within a school” college prep programs enhanced student achievement through the use of technology. Outcomes improved for students in the program, but the larger student populations continued to struggle.
- In 2004, Omar D. Blair Charter School and the Green Valley Ranch Recreation Center opened as a Shared Use Facility Complex and won 1st place with the Denver Regional Council of Governments Innovation award. This project saved tax payers $2 million by sharing a gymnasium.
- In 2004, the Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School Revitalization Project started with vibrant stakeholder engagement process which developed a comprehensive revitalization plan to fundamentally transform the low performing middle school into a 6-12 grade early college high school which opened in 2006.
From 2005 until today, we have made more exciting advances in building schools and community in Colorado.
- From 2005 – 2012, the Foundation sponsored a collaborative of Far Northeast Denver school leaders, called the Principals Leadership Council (PLC). The group focused on solving regional issues, leveraging resources, expanded professional development, and establishing a common vision to better serve students.
- In August 2006, the Foundation issued the E-470 Education Master Plan Report to provide a series of recommendations to address the significant residential growth expected in the City of Aurora and Aurora Public Schools over the next 25 years. The project included over 100 citizens representing 65 different stakeholder groups, across committees.
- Unfortunately, in 2008, the housing market crashed and the country entered a major recession. The implementation of the E-470 Plan was put on hold, however, Oakwood Homes stayed committed to the Foundation and its work to improve schools.
- A 2008 DPS Bond program provided $48 million for the construction of an ECE – 12th grade shared campus, now called the Evie Garrett Dennis Campus. The Foundation held meetings which resulted in the E-12 campus design. Then Oakwood homes won the competitive process to become the turnkey developer of the 1st phase of the campus. The campus opened at the beginning of the 2010-11 school year and is now home to five different schools.
- From 2010 – 2015 Far Northeast Denver implemented a comprehensive regional school turnaround strategy which resulted in the replacement of several schools including Montbello High School, Noel Middle School and two elementary schools. The region is now home to more than 30 different schools, which provides significant school choice. During this five-year period, the Foundation convened stakeholders and brought in national experts to create recommendations to DPS about what to do with chronically failing schools.
- In January 2013 Z Place opened at the Evie Dennis Campus. This unique community project was made possible because the Foundation $4.5 million to build the facility, designed the space, and recruited corporate and community partners.
- In December 2015, Banning Lewis Ranch K-8 Academy was approved by Falcon 49 School District to expand their school to 12th grade. The secondary school will be called Banning Lewis Ranch Preparatory Academy. A new 80,000 sq. ft. facility will be located in Banning Lewis Ranch Village 2 and is slated to open in August 2017. The Foundation provided technical assistance to Banning Lewis Ranch Academy as well as funding for their capital campaign.
- In November 2016, five of the six school district where Oakwood Homes is building passed bond and/or Mill-Levy programs which will result in significant new school development and greater resources for teaching and learning.
- In January 2017, the Colorado Homebuilding Academy opened which helps educate, prepare and support students to have successful careers in the homebuilding industry. Learn more about it here >
- In April 2017, the Foundation is renamed Build Strong Education and celebrates 20 years of commitment to education.