Community Development Block Grant
Success Stories

Denver, CO - Mayor Wellington E. Webb

Project LISTO!

Project LISTO! is a five-week summer program designed to prepare middle school students for their transition to high school. It was created by Mayor Wellington Webb in response to an alarming drop-out rate among Latino high school students in northwest Denver.

Research shows that the transition period between the eighth grade and high school is one of the most challenging in a student's educational experience. Project LISTO!, started in the summer of 1998, is a direct intervention program which focuses primarily on intellectual and social development, introducing students to a challenging level of high school academics while preparing them for the social issues they will encounter in high school.

Project LISTO! - the word means "ready" in Spanish - is a partnership between the City and County of Denver and the public school system. The City contributed $130,000 in CDBG funds for the 1998 and 1999 program years; the schools contributed space at North High School, janitorial services, some materials, and administrative and academic support. Staffing consists of four high school mentors, two college mentors, three high school teachers and two administrators - a team which came together during orientation sessions held prior to the start of the program.

The program's administrators visit the middle schools which are the feeders to North High School, meeting with teachers and counselors to identify students who might benefit from the program, and then meeting with the students themselves. In 1998, 50 eighth-graders began the program; many joined voluntarily and even recruited friends; some were directed to the program by the juvenile court, or because they had to attend summer school. Another group of 50 is being recruited for the summer of 1999.

During the 24-day program in June and July, each student participates in a team with a teacher and peer counselor. Academic instruction, conducted each morning, includes literary and historical materials which expose students to works focusing on the experiences of America's ethnic minorities. The research and writing component gives students an opportunity to conduct a research project focusing on their families or on some aspect of local or community history.

The program also teaches students how to manage a homework load, provides an orientation to North High School's facilities, creates a community of learners, supports positive attitudes toward learning, fosters friendships and mentor relationships with teachers and older students, increases parental involvement, develops healthy extracurricular interests, good study habits and strategies to succeed in school, and helps the students explore their City. Students who complete the program are monitored by a Project LISTO! administrator throughout their freshman year.

Contact: James Mejia, Director, Mayor's Office of Human Rights and Community Relations, (303) 640-2621