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Article by Joe Vaccarelli as seen in The Denver Post, November 17, 2016


Denver Kids Inc educational counselor Kate Kratofil, left, works with 7th grade student Perla Guzman, 13, at STRIVE Prep Federal middle school on November 1, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. Denver Kids, Inc, provides academic and non-cognitive services to low-income, underperforming high school and middle school students. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)


Early last year, Perla Guzman-Ocana was unhappy and struggling in school, but once she met Kate Kratofil, things started to change.

“I had a mix of sadness and anger, but I didn’t know why,” Perla, 13, said.

Kratofil is a counselor with Denver Kids, Inc. who works with many students like Perla who need a mentor at school. They meet at least twice a month to talk about any issues Perla is having and her grades and they work on a journal together. Although only required to meet twice a month, Kratofil says she typically sees Perla every week, and they are in frequent touch through text messages. What the two do and talk about during their meetings vary. “I might have plan for our meeting, but really Perla sets the tone,” Kratofil said.

Denver Kids has worked with youth from Denver Public Schools for the past 70 years to provide support to student who are a higher risk for dropping out of school. The program is one of about 50 selected to receive funds from The Denver Post’s Season to Share campaign this year. Denver Kids’ goal is for students to graduate high school, pursue college or careers and contribute to the community.

“What the organization does is helping kids see future possibilities for themselves at an age where they can still dream. And we provide the support for them to realize that dream,” Denver Kids, Inc. CEO Jim Goebelbecker said.

Denver Kids has 27 counselors who meet regularly with about 1,300 students from kindergarten through senior year of high school.

Kids can remain with the same counselor throughout that time, which is something that appealed to Kratofil when she joined the organization from the teaching profession.

“The hard part about teaching was starting over every year,” said Kratofil, who has 45 students in her case load. “Now, I get to see progress year after year.”

For Perla, who transferred to STRIVE Prep Federal before this school year, Kratofil was able to introduce her to students she was meeting with and tell her new teachers about her. Perla has seen her grades go up, and she’s expressed an interest in science and plans to keep improving.

“I want to push myself more to do good work,” she said.

Name: Denver Kids, Inc.
Address: 1860 Lincoln St. Denver, CO 80203
In operation since: 1946
Number of Employees: 41
Annual budget: $3.3 million
Percentage that goes directly to client services: 73.2 percent
Number of clients served in 2015: 1,300