10 Years of YouthRoots

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Year 1 (2010-2011):

Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock was our leadership speaker our very first year, and he talked to our students about what it means to be a community leader. He shared some kind words reflecting on YouthRoots’ 10th Anniversary in our holiday campaign. 

“Over their ten years of success, YouthRoots has elevated the voice, impact, and leadership of young people. I was honored to be the first Leadership 101 speaker for YouthRoots nearly ten years ago, and have been incredibly inspired by the YouthRoots participants who work so tirelessly to respond to emerging issues and make their communities a better place to live. Congratulations to YouthRoots on reaching their 10th anniversary, and I look forward to seeing them achieve another decade of making a positive difference in the lives of our youth!”

Year 2 (2011-2012):

To kick off our second year, YouthRoots was named a finalist for Best New Charity at the 3rd annual Classy Awards. Founder Lacey Books attended the awards in California with her family. While we ultimately didn’t win, it was an honor to be recognized amongst so many incredible new organizations making powerful change in their communities.

Year 3 (2012-2013):

Our third year was a non-traditional program year as our founder (and only staff member at the time) welcomed her first daughter. Not wanting a year without YouthRoots, alumni participants put the leadership skills they developed in the program into action, taking initiative to fundraise for the YouthRoots operating budget. We’re so grateful for their time and energy helping YouthRoots thrive during our early years.

Year 4 (2013-2014):

After just 4 years of operation, YouthRoots was honored to be awarded Outstanding Nonprofit at the Governor’s Service Awards! This award recognizes organizations that have made an outstanding impact on Colorado communities. Thanks to alumni Natalia, Connie and Lorena for nominating us for the award.

Year 5 (2014-2015):

Halfway through our first decade, YouthRoots tripled our reach and impact, growing from 1 YouthBoard to 3! We worked closely with program facilitators to build a scalable structure for future expanded programming With 3 boards in the Denver area, more students had a chance to participate in the program and build the skills to become community leaders, which increased the program’s impact on children and youth. Having a scalable model paved the way for future years of YouthRoots reaching more high school students.

Year 6 (2015-2016):

YouthRoots partnered with our first community foundation in Dearborn, MI, which laid the groundwork for our program to reach new communities and not be limited by geography. After meeting a foundation in Michigan that was looking for effective youth philanthropy programming, we launched a partnership to bring our youth philanthropy program outside of Colorado. A four year case study of the partnership found that it was easier to administer than other youth philanthropy programs, offered multiple benefits to the community foundation, and showed that the program was just as effective for students when run in other communities. This was when we realized the potential for the growth of YouthRoots.

Year 7 (2016-2017):

In YouthRoots’ first big staff transition, we kicked off our 7th year with a new Executive Director, Lauren Czajka! Lauren transitioned into the role after serving as Director of Operations for three years. During her transition, Lauren said:

“I’m so grateful for the opportunity to continue serving YouthRoots in this expanded role! I look forward to working with the board of directors and staff team to continue growing our impact.”

Year 8 (2017-2018):

In our eighth year, YouthRoots received the Outstanding Foundation Award from National Philanthropy Day Colorado for our community impact. This award is given to a grantmaking organization that has demonstrated commitment to their communities through financial support and the encouragement of others to take on leadership roles in philanthropy and their community. We were honored to be recognized amongst so many incredible philanthropic organizations working for the people of our communities.

Year 9 (2018-2019):

In an exciting year for YouthRoots, we kicked off our 9th year with two incredible community partnerships with Community Foundation Boulder County and Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation, reaching more students passionate about making change and becoming community leaders.

Year 10 (2019-2020):

Year 10 was an exciting one! From a new partnership in Summit County, CO to launching an in-school program, it was a big year and a great way to end our first decade. Here are some of the things we are most proud of from our first 10 years:

  • 547 student change-makers have completed the program prepared to tackle issues facing their communities
  • YouthRoots participants have raised and granted $246,854 to 81 local nonprofits serving children and youth in their communities
  • The grants made by our participants have directly impacted more than 194,000 at-risk youth


Thank you to all of our participants for your passion for changing the world, to local nonprofits for your dedication to serving our communities, and to our supporters for believing in the power of youth for the last decade. We can’t wait to see what the next 10 years holds! 

Alyssa Hornyak10 Years of YouthRoots