Find us on the GROWTH Initiative Website

The GROWTH Initiative now has its own webpage! The GROWTH Initiative was designed to ensure that high-quality education and career opportunities are available to students and families in Far Northeast Denver and surrounding communities. Its mission is to expand economic and educational opportunities within the Far Northeast Denver and Aurora neighborhoods to create freedom for informed and inspired communities. To find out more about this collective impact effort and ways you or your organization can partner, please visit The GROWTH Initiative website at: or click on the link below.


Young Adults for Positive Action invites you join with us in celebrating the Far Northeast GROWTH Initiative!

The Far Northeast GROWTH Initiative was designed to ensure that high quality education and career opportunities are available to students and families in Far Northeast Denver and surrounding communities. Utilizing recommendations and trends from the Operation: Moving Forward’s recommendations report on the status of Far Northeast Denver schools and their needs, the GROWTH Initiative will create Generous and Rigorous Opportunities with Tenacious Help!

As opportunities are expanding for students and families in the Far Northeast community, so too will the Far Northeast GROWTH Initiative Zone. The GROWTH Zone has boundaries of Havana St to the west, Sixth Ave to the south, E-470 to the east, and Pena Blvd and 56th St to the North. This encompasses Far Northeast Denver, DIA, and parts of Northwest Aurora. This area is home to over 15,000 students, the majority of whom qualify for Free or Reduced Lunch in schools. Despite the fact that this is one of the fastest growing communities—with the expansion of Anschutz Medical Campus, the inter-government agreement between Adams’ County and Denver County for additional development, the building of Aerotropolis, and the DIA Expansion—almost every student in this region is underserved and under-resourced, relative to the Denver Metro area. There is great opportunity for students and families in the GROWTH Zone. However, there remains a lack of focus on how to meet this diverse group’s needs.

Over the coming months, Young Adults for Positive Action (YAPA) will ensure that the vision of Operation: Moving Forward’s findings becomes reality. YAPA and other community partners will meet with Denver Public Schools’ board members and administrators to help determine the best metrics of measurement for success in Denver Plan 2020. Having clearly laid out metrics that underscore a unified focus for community groups is a vital step in ensuring real change in the Far Northeast. These meetings with Denver Public Schools will continue on a regular basis.

Young Adults for Positive Action will begin communication with nonprofits, businesses, stakeholders and other service organizations to determine what services they currently offer in the region, how best they can be supported, and how to help increase the effect their services have in the region. YAPA will work as a link between these service providers and schools, helping ensure they are not only welcomed into schools, but provided with the resources necessary to succeed at the school.

Specifically, YAPA will work with schools to determine their individual needs and take steps to ensure they are partnered with organizations that match their culture and needs. Creating this link between service providers and schools has proven difficult for both sides and YAPA will act as a unifying force.

Once Young Adults for Positive Action has met with nonprofits, businesses, stakeholders, and service providers in the region, YAPA will expand upon the existing Z Place Network in order to inventory and refine the existing asset mapping work in the GROWTH Initiative Zone. Working closely with partners, YAPA will create a sustainable system which showcases which organizations are active in the area, what supports they provide, and their current and potential capacities to serve the region. This is a vital step in determining needs of the community.

Utilizing this system, which will be housed out of the Z Place Network building, YAPA will reach out to corporations and businesses that plan to relocate to the region to help create connections between those businesses and the community. In the future, these relationships can be leveraged for many opportunities for both students and the community. YAPA will also reach out to service providers across Denver who could help meet needs of the community. YAPA will work closely with these organizations to ensure they have every chance to provide services to the community, and that they are welcomed with open arms.

To accomplish these goals, YAPA will act as a backbone organization in an effort to truly create a collective impact in the community. Drawing inspiration from similar movements across the country, YAPA will help manage effective, real change in the community. This will be accomplished through constant tracking of shared measurements that will be developed in with DPS and community stakeholders.

With the transition to a backbone organization, Young Adults for Positive Action has already begun meeting with stakeholders in areas of need. YAPA will convene stakeholders for regular meetings surrounding the areas of focus from the Operation Moving Forward report. These meetings will have various goals, but at the core of each meeting will be how to help students, families and the community meet needs in vital areas. Early meetings will include discussions surrounding metrics, successful practices, and needs to succeed in the Far Northeast GROWTH Initiative Zone. Later meetings will discuss progress, improvements, and expansion of initial findings.

Join Young Adults for Positive Action in the next step in creating a community that stands tall and is successful. Please contact Cassandra Ernst, Executive Director of YAPA for ways you can support our efforts. Only together can we create real change in our communities.


4800 Telluride Street Building 5

Denver, Colorado 80249

Phone – 720-541-6522

Contact: Cassandra Ernst

Office: 720.423.7229





Young Adults for Positive Action is proud to announce our 2015-2016 school year. The YAPA Year will kick off with a community celebration and barbeque on Saturday, September 12 from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. We invite you to join us to learn more about our student, family, and community activities and programs.

Founded in 1996, Young Adults for Positive Action is a national organization that provides STEM Education, Leadership Opportunities, Workforce Development Training, and Healthy Living Options to young people and their families within Far Northeast Denver. Young Adults for Positive Action’s programs emphasize leadership development, as it’s paramount to grow leaders within Metro Denver communities to ensure successful neighborhoods. We are committed to consistent application of positive action throughout the area through alignment of YAPA’s partnerships that link opportunities and high outcomes for young people and their families.

Last year, Young Adults for Positive Action began our One Imagination STEAM Leadership Program. The regional program is offered four hours on Saturdays in order to cultivate young artists within the community by integrating foundational STEM skills into their chosen field of art and developing their communication and leadership skills. Over 50 students regularly attended the program and our three showcase presentations brought in over 200 community members at each show. Young Adults for Positive Action was also able to increase awareness and build community advocates in the community through the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Planting the Seed Weekend. During the weekend, over 500 community members attended the conference with over 400 student leaders at the youth conference. We met with students that attended the youth conference on a monthly basis as a follow-up to the conference in January. With this, we not only increased their leadership capabilities, but also explored the assets and needs of youth within the Far Northeast Community. Through our dinner program, we served over 15,000 meals in the 2014-2016 school year at two sites. Our workforce development program allowed us to support over 100 students in workforce development training, internship programs, paid work experience, and summer youth employment. Over 60 students participated in the Summer STEAM Leadership Camp, a three week camp that integrated STEM learning, healthy living, and the arts. Finally, through our partnership with Book Trust, Young Adults for Positive Action was able to support providing over 60,000 books to students in the Far Northeast Community.

This year, Young Adults for Positive Action has a plethora of school and community programs available for youth and families within the Far Northeast and Metro Denver communities. We are proud to announce that we will be continuing the One Imagination STEAM Leadership Program. For more information or to register, please go to: Students interested in workforce development opportunities are also welcome to reach out to our coordinator, Marcus Murrell at: to sign up. And if your school is interested in getting your student leader group involved in our Colorado Youth Leadership Institute, please reach out to Cassandra Ernst at: Young Adults for Positive Action also supports students and families through connecting them with necessary wraparound services, please reach out to Cassandra Ernst at: if you need assistance or connect with one of our Zoom Sites. Please read the community calendar below to find out ways that you can be further involved.

We invite you to join us in celebrating positive outcomes!


Young Adults for Positive Action Sponsors Arts Advisory Council

Strong cultural and performing arts exist in every segment of Metro Denver with the exception of the Far Northeast. Realizing this, Young Adults for Positive Action is developing a strategic plan and course of action which will incorporate the arts as a celebration and means to maintain a healthy community.

Through the input of those who have the experience, expertise, resources, and commitment to the arts, Young Adults for Positive Action believes that the global communities of Far Northeast Denver can become a national model of the dynamic inclusivity of arts, arts as a cohesive building factor which strengthens communities, and arts as a base for the common denominator in a world of difference. This has led to the creation of the Far Northeast Arts Advisory Council.

This council met for the first time on Thursday, March 26, 2015 in order to discuss the vision for cultural and performing arts within the Far Northeast Community, and ways to leverage resources in order to create a first-class arts community. Particularly, the Arts Advisory Council will open avenues for young people to express their story as a means for positive youth development and community cohesion. The Arts Advisory Council is in the process of developing a short and long-range vision and action plan, which will be made available to the public. The Executive Committee will meet monthly to support arts and cultural development in the Far Northeast community, with the full Arts Advisory Council meeting on a quarterly basis.

Now Hiring!: AmeriCorps VISTA Far Northeast Summer Program

Young Adults for Positive Action is recruiting locally for fifteen AmeriCorps Summer VISTAs in order to support summer learning loss within the Far Northeast and Denver Metro Community. The AmeriCorps VISTA program is an amazing way to give back to your community, while also earning money that can be applied towards your college education. AmeriCorps VISTAs will act as mentors and support for the YAPA Youth Leadership Camp, while also gaining needed skills in community asset-building, recruitment, and program development.

Participants will receive a $1075 Education Award that can be applied to past student loans or current college expenses, as well as a modest living stipend. All applicants must be at least 18 years old. If you’re interested or know of somebody who wants to take part in this amazing experience, please apply at: For questions, reach out to Nadia Said at: or 720-423-7229

Encouraging Student Leaders in Far Northeast Denver

This month Young Adults for Positive Action was given the opportunity to meet with student leaders at High Tech Early College, P.U.S.H. Academy, and Collegiate Prep Academy who had attended the “Planting the Seed” Youth Summit on Friday, January 16, 2015. These leadership gatherings acted as a follow-up to the action steps listed from the Youth Summit, and our commitment to all students within the Far Northeast and Denver Metro Community.

Young Adults for Positive Action wishes to ensure that the programs and services offered are able to align with the needs of students and families. Additionally, Young Adults for Positive Action continues to refine existing services so that we are able to better improve program quality and long-term sustainability.

As a result of our meetings, Young Adults for Positive Action is able to gather more information about the real-world needs of the students. Each student clearly expressed their successes in the last month, while also articulating their needs in order to excel in the school and community. Students were looking for more than just summer jobs; they wanted work that would fit into their career pathway. They sought more than just study help; rather, they were seeking ways to achieve beyond their normal curriculum. Student leaders wished for more community service opportunities and ways that the schools regularly come together on a regional basis to celebrate their neighborhood.

Here are just a few ways student leaders will be connecting with YAPA over the next few months in order to inspire change in the way we serve youth:

  • Healthy living for students should be encouraged as a team, school, and community effort
  • AP classes should be supported year-round and in the summer. They should be meaningful and accessible and connected to school-community effort
  • More challenging opportunities in classes that are geared towards individual interests and career pathways
  • Dialogues in school and the community in order to have meaningful cultural engagement and celebration
  • Ongoing scholarship consultations that involve completion and check-ins pertinent to college acceptance; help with college application essays
  • Specific summer support for job readiness, career pathways, workforce development, internships, and externships
  • Safe place for students to gather before, during and after school, weekends, and summer
  • Music/artistic advancement for strings and instruments (students suggest that much of their artistic influence ended after 4th grade), as well as other artistic/cultural opportunities
  • Encouraging students to lead school and community effort – connecting with other schools to support one another – positive recognition and branding for their schools
  • Positive dialogue and communication with teachers, school staff, adults and mentors

These student check-ins will continue throughout the year on a monthly basis, continuing into the 2015-2016 school year.