Mission & History

Mission and History

We believe education can change a young person's life for the better.

Colorado Youth for a Change (CYC) is solving Colorado's dropout crisis. CYC was established in 2005 in response to the alarming increase in the number of students dropping out of school in Colorado and the lack of capacity of school systems to reengage students who have dropped out or who are at risk of dropping out of school.

Because even one student who drops out is too many, we are committed to continuing this work through thoughtful partnerships, Reengagement, Educational Intervention, Attendance, and Futures Academy. The unemployment rate for those individuals without a high school diploma is nearly double that of the general public, and those that have dropped out of school are more likely to experience homelessness, live in poverty, commit crimes, and become teenage parents.

It is our goal to reengage Colorado students that are either at risk for not completing high school, or who have dropped out of school completely, by providing case management to build positive relationships, reducing barriers to educational success and coordinating academic support services, so that students will reengage with their education and earn their high school diploma or GED, thereby ultimately contributing to solving the dropout crisis in Colorado.

CYC’s programs and methods are proven to work. Based on research, our interventions create positive outcomes for our students and for the community at large. We strive to be an evidence-based, data-driven organization and recently completed our Theory of Change.


The below history follows a school year timeline.

  • 2005-2006

    Founder and former CEO Steve Dobo reenrolled 55 students in school.

  • 2006-2007

    CYC started working with Denver Public Schools to reengage Manual High School students, serving 150 youth over the course of the year. Governor Bill Ritter set goal to cut dropout rate in half by 2017.

  • 2007-2008

    CYC served 255 youth. In response to research indicating early warning signs for dropping out of school, CYC began early stages of Educational Intervention programming at West High School. Reengagement (formerly Dropout Outreach and Recovery) began to work with homeless students in partnership with Denver Public Schools.

  • 2008-2009

    CYC served 414 youth and expanded into Aurora Public Schools through Ombudsman.

  • 2009-2010

    CYC served 1,228 youth and began Futures Academy in Aurora. CYC began helping districts develop new school models, including Youth Opportunity Academy and West Career Academy.

  • 2010-2011

    CYC served 1,369 youth and expanded into Englewood and Adams 12 School Districts through Educational Intervention programming. The agency also worked with the Colorado Department of Education and the Colorado Graduates Initiative to write and receive a five-year $15 million Graduation Pathways grant for the state of Colorado. This grant helped to expand the scope of work to Englewood, Mapleton, and Pueblo 60.

  • 2011-2012

    The agency started Late Educational Intervention (for 11th and 12th graders) at Aurora Central High School and North High School. An Educational Intensive Services position was also added at West High School to serve high-need students with 3+ course failures.

  • 2012-2013

    As the Founder of CYC, Steve Dobo, moved on to work with students who dropped out of school on the national level, Chris Telk, one of CYC's founding board members, joined the staff as Executive Director. Over 1,700 students were served and 677 students were successfully enrolled back into school.

  • 2013-2014

    CYC served 1,878 students. We expanded into Moffat County, Adams 14, and Brighton school districts, serving a total of nine school districts. CYC conducted "Theory of Change" work as part of the first national cohort in the PropelNext Initiative. CYC transformed reengagement work at Colorado High School Charter (CHSC) into an attendance program and placed CYC Student Advocates on site. The CYC staff started extensive inclusivity training.

  • 2014-2015

    CYC served 1,760 students. After over seven years holding other various leadership positions at CYC, Mary Zanotti became the Executive Director. CYC was featured in the U.S. Department of Education's "Resource Guide for Implementing and Enhancing Re-Engagement Centers for Out-of-School Youth." We relocated Futures Academy into a beautiful and functional new space that benefits the experience of both students and teachers alike.

  • 2015-2016

    CYC served 1,705 students. CYC hired Director of Learning, Brian Brinkerhoff, to lead data and evaluation initiatives. CYC became an official AmeriCorps site and welcomed 20 AmeriCorps members. The agency was also asked to head the Colorado Reengagement Network.

  • 2016-2017

    The organization welcomed 28 AmeriCorps members for a year of service. CYC officially added Attendance program and renamed the Dropout Outreach and Recovery program as "Reengagement."