On June 29th, 2022, the ELK Education Center officially opened its doors in welcome to the far northeast community.
Environmental Learning for Kids cultivates a passion in science, leadership, and service in a racially and socioeconomically diverse community of learners. ELK was founded with the belief that all young people deserve strong educational support, good role models, and opportunities for positive community action in order to become engaged, productive, and successful members of society.
“When I was tasked to get us to the finish line, I did not understand the magnitude of what this Education Center would be. We are an example of how community-based, co-created outdoor spaces in Colorado should and must look like.”
“Look at what we can accomplish together, we did it! We built a place where everyone, regardless of their gender, race, sexual orientation, or ability can feel like they belong,” shared Juan Pérez Sáez, ELK Executive Director.
ELK’s mission will be amplified by this space. The ELK Education Center will be a central community hub that is a place of belonging, a safe space for all, and a space to engage with hands-on, experiential programs and activities.
“The new ELK Education Center highlights the partnership between ELK, the Trust for Public Land, and Denver Parks and Recreation to increase outdoor recreation and environmental education opportunities in the heart of the Montbello community,” said Happy Haynes, Executive Director of Denver Parks and Recreation.
“This unique open space and education facility will provide programs and a connection to nature for underserved youth and their families within a 10-minure walking or biking distance from their homes.”
Specifically, this one-of-a-kind, multi-use space will offer the following:
- (Two) indoor classrooms
- (Two) outdoor classrooms
- STEM learning programs & activities
- Drop-in programming
- Tutoring/study rooms
- Open to the public
- Community meeting space
- Nature play
- Central to the Montbello community
This Education Center has been highly anticipated by the Montbello community. Local residents were actively engaged throughout the process of co-creating this unique facility. This community-led approach is a model that could serve as a guiding star for similar initiatives across the state.
“As I humbly reflect on the past 26 years, I sincerely thank the thousands of ELK students, families, community members, and partners who all came together to realize this dream for the Montbello neighborhood. Through vision and hard work, along with becoming a second family for many of our students, ELK is woven together with love — a safe place for young people to learn and grow.
“Science, social justice, and leadership will carry ELK’s mission forward for the next 26 years and beyond. Dream big!” shared ELK co-founder and now District 11 Councilwoman, Stacie Gilmore.”
We look forward to utilizing our new home to its full capacity for youth and families — a place to dream and watch dreams come true. Come on by and visit us at 12680 Albrook Dr. Denver, CO 80239!
About Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK): Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK) is a Denver-based, nonprofit organization established in 1996 to address the growing need to introduce and educate Colorado’s racially diverse youth about science, leadership, and careers. Twenty-six years later, ELK continues to provide strong educational support, good role models, and opportunities for positive community action for youth, helping them to become engaged, productive, and successful members of society. Learn more at elkkkids.org.
About the Author: Kristina Gray received her Bachelor of Art degree in Political Science from MSU Denver in 2011. She has been a part of the nonprofit sector for over 10 years. She is an alumnus of the Corporation for National and Community Service’s AmeriCorps VISTA program and the Hispanic Chamber Foundation’s Aspiring Leaders Program, Class of 2017. Kristina spends her free time advocating for justice and equity for all of Colorado’s youth & families and going on adventures with her husband and young daughter. Contact Kristina @firstname.lastname@example.org.