Elevate USA

Building long-term, life-changing relationships with urban youth, equipping them to thrive and contribute to their community.
“Elevate is unlike any class I have ever taken. For the first time, I felt like I could be myself and someone cared and pushed me.”
– Stephon, Elevate student

Across America’s underserved urban areas, public school students drop out of school in alarming numbers, and for those that do graduate, the road to post-secondary education is filled with obstacles. Our urban youth experience a lack of opportunity and educational preparedness, growing up in communities of poverty and disempowerment, and with the absence of stable, long-term, committed adult relationships in their lives.

The Solution

Elevate USA implements a replicable, holistic, and innovative program approach that builds long-term, life-changing relationships with urban youth. Elevate hires teacher-mentors that represent the communities they serve. These teacher-mentors build relationships throughout four program areas, equipping students with the tools they need for success. The accredited classes in school teach 13 vital character qualities and life skills. After school, on weekends and throughout the summer, teacher-mentors spend time mentoring students outside of the classroom, discovering their talents, interests, and hopes for the future, and investing in those interests through activities and time together.

Students also participate in cross-age mentoring where they teach what they have learned to elementary youth. Students in the Adventure Program overcome challenges through growth and develop teamwork and leadership skills year-round. The College and Career program offers resources to students in college planning, career readiness, and interview and test preparation. Together, these four programs address the needs of the WHOLE student.

With Elevate’s guidance, more students are graduating high school and of those that graduate 86 percent enroll in college, technical training, or the military. To date, Elevate has helped thousands of students achieve tremendous academic success.

The Story

The Elevate model was founded in Denver, Colorado by Colorado Uplift over 36 years ago and has demonstrated tremendous success that has attracted national attention. After seeing the success of the model, Uplift created a replication program called Elevate USA that launched in 2014. Elevate serves as the national organization helping urban youth by launching new Elevate affiliates while supporting existing affiliates. Elevate programs exist in seven areas: Denver, Orlando, Phoenix, New York City, Indianapolis, New England and Las Vegas. Several others are in the process of affiliation.

Stand Together Foundation Partnership

Elevate USA is a 2017 Stand Together Foundation Catalyst. Through participation in the Catalyst Program, Elevate USA receives training from industry experts in organizational development, branding, measurement and growth, and strategic relationships to amplify their impact and strategically expand their reach.

Denver, CO
est. 2014
Debbi Speck
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Debbi Speck joins ELEVATE USA after working for decades among inner-city children, at-risk youth, and adjudicated young adults in downtown Phoenix and across the country, designing and implementing comprehensive academic achievement programs for young people between kindergarten and 12th grade, healthy family and marriage programs, early childhood education, youth development, mentoring, and readiness for work programs. Following this extensive work in our lower resources communities, Debbi served with a large international nonprofit, working with major donors. Mrs. Speck has a bachelor's degree from Texas Christian University and a master's degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.
Success Metrics
Cities in which Elevate is present
Students served
Schools in which Elevate is present
Graduation rate for students who participate in Elevate programs for three years or more
Graduates who go on to college, technical training, or the military
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