Our History

Tony Lewis is named Executive Director of the Donnell-Kay Foundation. Under Tony’s leadership and after decades of discrete grant-giving, DK focuses its mission on statewide K-12 education.

DK helps launch HeadFirst, an education print magazine, which would later become the website EdNews Colorado (2008) and Chalkbeat Colorado (2014).

DK starts a monthly Hot Lunch speaker series, co-hosted with the Piton Foundation.

DK releases the report DPS Blueprint: Towards a High-Performing District – New School Development and Beyond, which laid the foundation for the New Schools office at DPS, now called the Office of School Reform & Innovation (OSRI).

DK lays the intellectual and technical foundation for statewide funding of school facilities.

DK convenes the Trujillo Commission on Online Education, a group of policy makers who helped establish a long-term vision for online learning practices and policies in Colorado.

The Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) program is enacted in statute (C.R.S. 22-43.7) under the Colorado Department of Education. BEST provides grants for the construction of new schools as well as general construction and renovation of existing school facilities.

DK supports the founding of Get Smart Schools, now Catapult Leadership, which invests in the training, development and ongoing support of talented school leaders in Colorado.

DK convenes a diverse group of stakeholders and provides the thought leadership to craft the concept of innovation schools.

The Innovation Schools Act of 2008 is enacted in statute (C.R.S. 22-32.5) under the Colorado Department of Education. The Act “provides a path for schools and districts to design and implement innovative ideas and practices, and to obtain waivers from state and local policies and collective bargaining agreements that challenge their ability to execute their ideas.”

DK releases the report A Call to Action: Getting Denver Public Schools Students Back on Track to Graduation. The report is an analysis of DPS’ off-track youth, in and out of school, and a roadmap for improving educational options.

DK helps bring Revolution Foods to Colorado. The company’s mission is to serve healthy, freshly prepared meals to students across the country, and now operates in many schools across our state.

DK hosts the inaugural Colorado Summit on Blended Learning, bringing together local and national leaders in blended learning to examine innovative programs and systems and explore Colorado’s implementation efforts. DK hosts the Summit again in 2011, releasing the report Blended Learning: The Best of Both Worlds. In 2012, DK releases the Case Study of Blended Learning Implementation: The Odyssey School and Rocky Mountain Prep and hosts the third annual Summit.

DK releases the report Great Expectations, Mixed Results, analyzing 36 charter, innovation, and redesign schools that opened in DPS since 2008. Data shows wide variance in student academic growth and achievement.

After several years of exploration, DK and several other non-profits help the district roll out the DPS SchoolChoice unified enrollment system, which includes traditional, charter and innovation schools. The UCD Buechner Institute for Governance investigated the results in their paper, Understanding How Parents Chose Schools - An Analysis of Denver's SchoolChoice Form Questions.

DK supports the launch of Colorado School Grades, created by Colorado Succeeds. The website allows parents to easily navigate transparent and digestible information about school performance across the state.

DK releases the report Alternative Education in Colorado: Recommendations for Improving State Outcomes for Opportunity Youth. The report highlights the personal and academic challenges faced by youth ages 16-24 who have either dropped out of high school or are not participating in the workforce, as well as the unique challenges schools face in meeting these students’ immense needs. DK issues seven key recommendations for improving alternative education in Colorado by refocusing on improved academic rigor, promoting learning gains, and providing necessary wraparound services.

DK releases a report titled Parent Engagement in High Performing Charter Schools: A Guide for Schools, using examples of some of the most successful charter networks in the country to describe how schools can leverage the power of parent engagement to perpetuate the existence of high-quality schools.

DK launches ReSchool Colorado. ReSchool is a multi-year initiative to design and launch an inspirational education system that coordinates people and resources in new, dynamic ways and connects learners to experiences that are welcoming, empowering, and world-class. To learn more about ReSchool, visit the website at reschoolcolorado.org.

DK releases a series of reports on school leadership in Colorado. The first, School Leadership Pipeline Series, Part 1: Meeting Colorado’s Demand for Excellent Leaders, is based on a survey of Colorado’s superintendents and leaders of charter management organizations (CMOs) and intends to inform ongoing state and district efforts to build a robust human capital pipeline to educate our state’s students. The second, School Leadership Pipeline Series, Part 2: Promising Leadership for School Turnarounds, describes the specific challenges facing school turnaround leaders and puts forward recommendations to ensure that Colorado is training and hiring leaders who are able to produce results in some of the state’s most challenging schools.

DK releases a report titled Beyond Averages: School Quality in Denver Public Schools, analyzing five years of academic outcomes in DPS.

DK supports bringing the Relay Graduate School of Education to Colorado and welcomes Katie Hawkes, Denver Lead Planner, to share our office space in the Equitable Building.

DK is a financial supporter and an Advisory Council member of the Make Your Mark campaign, which launches in early 2016 to recruit and retain more teachers and school leaders of color in Denver’s schools.

Along with other funders, DK launches Colorado Charter Facility Solutions to develop a coherent and robust strategy to address school facilities finance in Denver, specifically for charter school operators.

In a new approach to grant-making, DK engages with communities across Colorado operating on a four-day school week (4DSW). With support from the Gates Family Foundation and Louis Calder Foundation, DK funds five communities -  Granby, Oak Creek, Rye, La Junta, and Campo - to use a design thinking process to leverage their 5th day for student learning, prototyping new solutions in the 2017-18 school year.

DK releases a report titled Affordable Housing Solutions for Educators, a national look at the ways districts and developers are looking to help educators who are struggling to afford or find housing in the districts where they teach.

DK makes recommendations to Denver Public Schools on how the DPS board and staff could enhance its transportation offerings and better align its transportation policy with its school choice policy.