Return to Blog

Celebrating 80 Years - Investing in Education, 1965; Colorado Academy, Denver Country Day School, and Kent Denver

Tags: #Celebrating80Years

Colorado Academy Dining Hall


#Celebrating80Years: 2017 marked 80 years of working with Colorado’s nonprofits as they seek to strengthen their communities. Throughout 2018, we will be looking back on this history of the outstanding organizations and the people the Trustees have had the opportunity to support. On the blog you will find a history of the Foundation’s grant making and a representative organization from every year since our founding in 1937.

Education has been one of El Pomar’s grant making areas from the beginning, when one of the Foundation’s first five grants was provided to the Fountain Valley School in Colorado Springs in 1937. As the Foundation’s grant making began to expand geographically in the 1950s and 1960s, grants were provided to three private schools in Denver that provided similar focuses on student learning and development. 




Students at Colorado Academy

Grantee Spotlight:  Colorado Academy

Colorado Academy, now operating as a private day-school in Denver, has a rich history in the Denver metro area. Originally established as the Hill School for Boys in 1906, by 1923 the school had begun to incorporate military training into the curriculum and became known as the Colorado Military School.  The school transitioned away from this military emphasis in 1955 as a boys boarding and day school and became co-educational in 1971. Today, the school serves nearly 1,000 students from 73 zip codes across the Denver area, from pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade.

The educational philosophy at Colorado Academy is rooted in ideals and intention, and academic challenges are balanced by support and encouragement. One of the school’s stated purposes is to encourage students to view learning as a life-long endeavor.

Beginning with a $25,000 grant in 1965, El Pomar has provided support for a number of capital projects at Colorado Academy over the years. The most recent grant was given in support of the Horizons Program, which serves more than 140 low-income students from Southwest Denver during the summer and school year.


Grantee Spotlight:  Kent Denver School (Kent School for Girls and Denver Country Day School )

El Pomar Hall at Kent Denver School, 1965

Kent Denver School was created through the merger of the Kent School for Girls (founded in 1922) and the Denver Country Day School (founded in 1953). Today, Kent Denver serves 700 students in grades 6-12 with an innovative college preparatory curriculum and extracurricular programs in athletics, the arts, technology and design, community service and many other areas. 

In 1963, both the Kent School for Girls and Denver Country Day (DCD) had outgrown their respective campuses in south Denver and moved to the spacious Blackmer Farm property in Cherry Hills Village with several coordinate, or shared, facilities. DCD made the first move to the Blackmer Farm property in 1965. The school initially occupied two classroom buildings and El Pomar Hall, a dining facility that later became a theater space. Kent School for Girls moved onto their portion of the campus in 1968. After several years of experimenting with coordinate education, the schools merged in 1974 to form Kent Denver Country Day School (later shortened to Kent Denver School).

El Pomar’s most recent grant to the Kent Denver School was $5,000 in support Breakthrough Kent Denver, a program designed to increase the educational and social opportunities of motivated, under-resourced, middle school students through a quality year-round program, and motivate and train talented high school and college students for careers in education.


El Pomar in 1965:

In the 1960s, Foundation grant making began to include more consistent giving outside of the Pikes Peak region. In particular, El Pomar began to provide more grants in the Denver metro region:  beyond the educational institutions highlighted above, other Denver grantees in 1965 included the Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation, Laradon Hall Society for Exceptional Children and Adults, and the Geneva National Home. Overall, the Foundation granted $1.4 million in 35 grants in 1965.


Images courtesy of Colorado Academy and Kent Denver School 

Spotlight by Corey Baron