Lincoln High School is a small alternative high school in Fort Morgan (about an hour and a half east of the metro area). We have been attending the Cherry Creek Diversity Conference for approximately 15 years. We have very limited funds and have a diverse population with about about 80-90 percent of our students on free and reduced lunches. Students raise the money through our small student store which funds the cost of the conference and transportation so that students can participate in the conference without worrying about their ability to pay. This is the one conference that we make a priority to enable as many students as possible to attend. Of all of the choices about where we can spend our limited funds, this in the one activity that has the most impact on our students both during their time in our school and after they leave us. Students enjoy having the opportunity to meet new people and listen to others who understand their experiences, who share their stories, and who promote positive experiences and attitudes. In the past, as a result of the conference, we have been able to connect with speakers (not normally available in our community) and have them come out to our school as motivational speakers and even as commencement speakers. Students look forward to attending the conference every year and even put their names on the list for the next school year before we even return to the school after the conference. The Cherry Creek Diversity Conference is one of the highlights of every school year. Thank you for the opportunity for us to attend at an affordable cost. The impact of the conference is immeasurable.
I served on the executive committee for two years and I had the privilege to be co-chair my senior year. Thanks to the Cherry Creek Diversity Conference I found organizations that supported me and helped me find my voice to fight for my immigrant community.
Youth Celebrate Diversity was formed three years ago to continue the work of the Cherry Creek Diversity Conference, formed in 1994. For the past several years this conference has reached capacity with over 1200 students and their faculty advisers participating from 90+ Colorado high schools and youth organizations. In addition to working with young people to plan this successful conference each year, YCD has now begun to expand its services, thanks to the strong commitment of our Board of Directors and the hard work of our very dedicated and energetic Executive Director. Two years ago, we added a Diversity College Fair during the Conference morning registration time in an effort to connect students who might not have easy access to college fairs in their part of the state with the college representatives who could share their programs and discuss their commitment to diversity/inclusion on their campuses. In addition, we have created a smaller Mountain West Diversity Conference, to be held this October, that will provide a similar conference experience for those schools who might not be able to attend the statewide Cherry Creek Diversity Conference due to travel distance and potential adverse weather conditions. In response to several teachers who requested more training than they could get from the Diversity Conference, last fall we organized the Diversity Leadership Institute for High School Teachers. This Institute was designed to share the most current research on diversity/inclusion topics with participants and also provide them with practical suggestions that they could utilize to make their classrooms and schools more open and accepting to all students and staff. Based upon the glowing evaluations from this Institute, we have decided to host a similar event, double in size, this coming November for both high school and middle school teachers. As the Chair of the Board, I'm excited to be directly involved in the expansion of the much-needed services provided by Youth Celebrate Diversity and I look forward to the day where these programs can be offered in other states and regions as well!
I began volunteering with the Cherry Creek Diversity Conference, Youth Celebrate Diversity's original program, in 2011. I had no idea how powerful the experience would be. I was immediately struck by the students' enthusiasm for learning about other perspectives and cultures. The long list of workshops creates an environment in which participants are encouraged to experience something so different from their daily lives. I was pleasantly surprised at how professional the entire event was and the obvious amounts of time and energy that the executive committee put in to deliver an amazing conference. One of the things that I think is most important about this conference and YCD, in general, is the goal of empowering students and educators to work toward positive change in their schools and broader communities. It's not just about presenting a great conference or other event, it's about what comes after that day. I continue to volunteer with them because they create opportunities for constructive dialogue and experiential learning in a way that is more holistic and inclusive than anything I have experienced.
I've been on the executive committee for the past two years and attended the conference for the past three years, and it has granted me many amazing experiences! I am incredibly grateful that YCD has allowed me to meet many diverse people and learn about what makes our community unique and great!
I am a donor to this outstanding organization for over 10 years. Youth Celebrate Diversity provides an extraordinary opportunity for over 1000 high school students from 80+ high schools across the state of Colorado to come together to learn and share about cutting edge topics in diversity and inclusion. Youth Celebrate Diversity is leading the way in educating our youth on these critical issues and helping them gain essential skills for leading in increasingly diverse workplaces and communities.
One of my favorite parts about what Youth Celebrate Diversity does is the Cherry Creek Diversity Conference. I first attended the conference as a freshman in high school, and that was definitely one of the best decision I've ever made. Growing up, I've always felt a bit different from my peers and my community. I was one of only about 10 African-American students at my school, and I've never had school friends that weren't white. This wasn't necessarily a bad thing, but it did make me feel alone. When I went to the conference my freshman year, my eyes were opened. Not only was a pleasantly surprised to be surrounded by people who represented so many different types of ethnic, racial, religious, sexual, socioeconomic, geographic, etc. types of diversity, but I was suddenly in a community that was so generously accepting and inclusive. All the students were friendly and willing to be friends with each other. And, the student-led discussion group I was in had such a meaningful conversation about the problems we were having in our society. The workshops I attended were both fun and stimulating and led me to want to do more in my community.
In the years to come, I would use the experience that the Youth Celebrate Diversity Nonprofit gave me to better myself and my community. I joined the Executive Committee to help plan the conference, and I started a Co-Exist Day to celebrate diversity at my school. What I did with my experience captures only a small glimpse of the effect Youth Celebrate Diversity has had on students all across Colorado. I know students who still talk highly of the conference months after the keynote speaker finished their speech, and teachers who ask me when the conference will be months before the invitation is sent. YCD's unique and important mission has captivated so many people, and their meaningful events have changed the community for the better.
Being apart of Youth Celebrate Diversity for three years now has given me a new understanding of the world around me and what I can do as a young woman to help promote diversity. I've gain respect for my peers, confidence and leadership skills. I am so grateful for finding this organization and all of the things it has done for me and some of my friends!
My daughter worked with this group during her high school years. Because the events are student led, she developed such confidence and leadership skills at a very young age. I was very impressed and started to volunteer at their event.
When volunteering at their events you feel such positive energy coming from the attendees. You see schools keep coming year after year bring students with diversity coming from all sources. These kids understand that it is a safe place to learn about each other, themselves and their world without judgement.
I believe in creating positive places where young people feel accepted and empowered. When they asked me to join the Board, I excitedly accepted the opportunity to be involved with such a wonderful organization.
I look forward to the organization's growth as sharing these experiences can be life changing to attendees.
Youth Celebrate Diversity has run a diversity conference at Cherry Creek High School for the past twenty-five years. The conference is one of the biggest events of the year at our school. Dozens of schools attend from Colorado and sometimes from other states. Amazing conversations and personal growth occur every year. I never cease to be impressed by the work this group does. There is no doubt they make the world a better place to live in!