Piton Fellows: Youth Cohort


Youth Cohort

The Youth Cohort is a summer fellowship open to changemakers ages 14-20

The Piton Fellowship is designed to help leaders in business, policy and philanthropy leverage dedicated financial and strategic support from Gary Community Ventures to expand their knowledge, network and potential to drive positive change for themselves and their communities. An emphasis is being placed on leaders of color as part of an ongoing effort to bridge the historic gap between diverse talent  and access to leadership opportunities.

Youth Cohort

Learn, connect & develop with a network of peers and experts

The Youth Cohort is a summer fellowship open to changemakers ages 14-20 who are interested in joining a powerful network of community members as they learn and progress on their leadership journeys.

Fellows will deeply engage in individual and collective work that centers personal and professional development, racial equity, expanded social capital, knowledge and understanding of key issues faced by communities throughout metro Denver. 

Aren’t 14-20 years old? The Piton Fellowship has two other cohorts that may be for you. The Early Career Cohort is comprised of Metro Denver leaders with similar aspirations and 2-5 years of experience, while the Mid-Career Cohort is recruiting leaders with 10+ years experience.

Cohort Experiences & Dates

The Piton Fellowship is designed to fit into the busy lives of working professionals

With a strong focus on racial equity, diversity and inclusion, this paid summer experience pushes fellows to deeply engage in individual and collective work that expands their knowledge and understanding of key issues faced by communities throughout Metro Denver.

Fellows will meet in person at the Gary offices near Union Station roughly 20-25 hours a week over the course of June and July in order to:

  • Participate in individual and collective leadership learning exercises with experts in the business, policy and philanthropic sectors, which will give fellows the opportunity to provide actionable recommendations for social change specific to their communities.
  • Receive compensation of $2,500 upon successful completion of the program.
  • Gain access to the Piton Network of fellows and alumni, which offers fellows personal, professional and social capital connections now and for years to come.

Universal Piton Fellowship Applicant Requirements

Certain attributes are required across cohorts

We’re looking for leaders who are:

  • Committed to leading changes that impact their local communities.
  • Enthusiastic about expanding their knowledge and advocacy of justice, racial equity, diversity and inclusion.
  • Innovators, creative thinkers and change agents who are constantly thinking about how to build breakthrough solutions that will support their communities.
  • Empathetic leaders with a strong willingness to learn and collaborate with those who have diverse perspectives.
  • Living in Metro Denver (specifically Adams, Arapahoe, Denver and Jefferson counties), as this is a place-based fellowship

Why Join the Youth Cohort?

The Youth Cohort is uniquely designed for aspiring leaders ages 14-20. Youth Fellows will:

  • Explore and expand their personal and racial identities and how they intersect with their leadership journeys
  • Participate and conduct small group learning on topics that are deeply impacting their peers
  • Experience opportunities to explore their power and impact as emerging leaders alongside local leaders in the Denver Metro community
  • Expand their social capital while leveraging the Piton Fellow and Gary Community Ventures networks

Fellowship Projects

Fellows were asked to lend their brilliance to a pair of pressing problems in the summer of 2023: youth mental health & youth self sufficiency

Fellows were asked to lend their brilliance to a pair of pressing problems in the summer of 2023: youth mental health & youth self sufficiency. The 2023 Youth Cohort diligently worked over the course of 6 weeks, with support from Audrey Hartfield and Anna Lin, our partners from the Urban Leaders Fellowship (ULF), conducting research, executing interviews, preparing presentations and learning activities on their findings and recommendations as to how our city and state might address two ongoing issues:

  • The ongoing “state of emergency” for youth mental health, as articulated by Children’s Hospital Colorado
  • Increasing self-sufficiency standards among K-12 youth, so that they might become better prepared for the world when they leave the public education system

The cohort presented their findings to an audience that included Gary Community Ventures employees, community partners and past Piton Fellowship participants. The Youth Cohort’s invaluable reports and findings will continue to inform solutions sought by the Gary team and the greater Denver community.

The Youth Self-Sufficiency, Group 2 team presented their report to their peers and a live audience at History Colorado on July 26, 2022.

Across different research methodology and definitions, the fellows focused on self-sufficiency had similar findings and recommendations: 

  • Transparent dialogues and discussions with students about what they are learning and how it will support their future pathways
  • Required courses on home economics, financial literacy, and career pathways that will teach them the skills they need to be a functional adult 
  • Opportunities for continued education past the classroom including fellowship, internship, apprenticeship, and work experience. 

The fellows focused on youth mental health recommended creating more inclusive mental health services designed by and for underrepresented groups. These include: 

  • Advocacy and policy changes supportive of inclusive hiring practices
  • Increased funding and resources for peer support groups
  • Annual reports from mental health professionals regarding their client demographics
  • Destigmatizing and promoting mental health services among children and youth

How to Apply & Nominate Fellows

The Youth Cohort application window is currently closed, but nominations are open

To apply, please check back on this page when the application window for the Youth Cohort opens, which is typically in January or February each year.

Nominations, however, remain open year-round. Click the button below to nominate a fellow.

Current Youth Cohorts

Meet the Class of 2023

Our current cohort have roots everywhere from Ehtopia to Norway, China to Mexico and Five Points to Parker. They’re student athletes, musicians, environmental advocates, farmers, aspiring lawyers and culturally curious. During the summer of 2023, they explored new approaches we might take to youth mental health and self sufficiency.

Joaquin Alegria
Emmy Alvarez
Saijel Burkett
Leyla Castillo
Milani Cook
Meron Dawit
Daggim Desta
Fama Dia
Bryce Dilworth
Patrick Efferson
Abeneazer Getachew
Jaaziah Hurt
Ariel Lacy
Atalia Lee
Javan Lubanga
Victoria Lujan
Stephanie Maldonado
Winter Olyowski
Sophia Siraj
Yocabed Solomon
Edelawit Tadesse

Past Youth Cohorts

Meet the Growing Piton Network

Previous Youth Cohort members have come from a plethora of geographies and communities across Metro Denver, and they’ve come with an interest and an aptitude to tackle everything from inequities in our education system to gun violence to climate change to youth mental health to homelessness.

2022 Cohort

Godwin Amouzou
Imani Andoh
Anne Bennet
Montzerrath Casillas
Myles Chapman
Kyla Davidson
Mariem Dia
Kyliegh Grant
Isaura Ibarra-Ramirez
Rhiann Johnson
Skyler Kasnoff
Elliot Liu
Ceirra Noel
Paloma Oteiza
Aimee Resnick
Annika Rouse
Luis Tinajero-Areola
Malia Walker

Learn More About the Piton Fellowship

Although our initiatives now live under the Gary Community Ventures name, we intentionally chose to honor our history as The Piton Foundation in selecting The Piton Fellowship as the title for this program. We did so because we believe this name tells a perfect story about the idea of ascendency in leadership that Piton has long represented.

There are three cohorts of the fellowship for Youth, Early Career and Mid-Career Professionals. Designed to accessibly fit into the busy lives of fellows, this free experience allows fellows to continue working and learning while building their leadership skills, networks and potential to create community impact. Upon completion of the program, Gary provides fellows a payment to use towards professional development and career-building opportunities.

Share Your Ideas

I would like to see business people try to solve social problems with the same imagination and energy they use to finance a factory or make a deal. Don’t call it philanthropy; call it corporate social investment. Make it integral to business.