Piton Fellows: Youth Cohort


Youth Cohort

Meet the Fellows!

Meet the inaugural Youth Cohort of Piton Fellows, a group of changemakers ages 14-20 who have become part of the Gary Community Ventures team and a powerful network of community members as they learn and progress on their leadership journeys.

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, with an emphasis being placed on developing young leaders of color.

Piton Fellows: Youth Cohort

Get to know our fellows and two impact areas they’re hoping to address.
Godwin Amouzou
Youth Self-Sufficiency Group 1

1. Reimagining education & addressing inequities in our education system

2. Improving post-secondary options & transitions for students

Imani Andoh
Youth Self-Sufficiency Group 1

1. Addressing inequities in our education system

2. Ending gun violence

Anne Bennet
Youth Self-Sufficiency Group 2

1. Addressing inequities in our education system, including the school-to-prison pipeline

2. Increasing community resources supporting mental health

Montzerrath Casillas
Youth Mental Health Group

1. Decreasing food waste

2. Combatting climate change

Myles Chapman
Youth Self-Sufficiency Group 2

1. Addressing economic disparities within public schools

2. Addressing issues of injustice within our government

Kyla Davidson
Youth Self-Sufficiency Group 1

1. Addressing youth mental health, including teen suicide

2. Ending gun violence

Mariem Dia
Youth Self-Sufficiency Group 2

1. Addressing inequities within our justice system

2. Addressing injustices within our prison system

Kyliegh Grant
Youth Mental Health Group

1. Addressing racial inequalities

2. Dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline

Isaura Ibarra-Ramirez
Youth Self-Sufficiency Group 2

1. Improving our K-12 education system

2. Seizing opportunities for community healing

Rhiann Johnson
Youth Self-Sufficiency, Group 1

1. Addressing Denver’s homelessness & affordable housing crisis

2. Providing better care for abused or neglected animals

Skyler Kasnoff
Youth Self-Sufficiency Group 2

1. Addressing food insecurity

2. Creating new pathways to land and homeownership

Elliot Liu
Youth Mental Health Group

1. Increasing gun control and safety measures

2. Addressing homelessness & poverty

Ceirra Noel
Youth Self-Sufficiency, Group 2

1. Addressing educational inequities

2. Finding solutions to youth violence

Paloma Oteiza
Youth Mental Health Group

1. Increasing student engagement in education, especially science

2. Promoting the importance of social-emotional learning

Aimee Resnick
Youth Mental Health Group

1. Addressing concerns around eating disorders and weight-based discrimination

2. Accelerating the transition to sustainable resource cultivation

Annika Rouse
Youth Self-Sufficiency Group 1

1. Addressing equity issues in the school system

2. Finding solutions to the growing rate of homelessness

Luis Tinajero
Youth Self-Sufficiency Group 1

1. Addressing issues children face at our borders

2. Minimizing the health disparities experienced by immigrant populations

Malia Walker
Youth Mental Health Group

1. Expanding equity in the realm of journalism

2. Finding better mental health and wellness solutions for marginalized groups

Fellowship Projects

Fellows were asked to lend their brilliance to a pair of pressing problems in the summer of 2022: youth mental health & youth self sufficiency

The 2022 Youth Cohort diligently worked over the course of 6 weeks, with support from Sienna Chambers, Matti Dimmick and Garfield Warren, our partners from the Urban Leaders Fellowship (ULF), conducting research, executing interviews and preparing presentations on their findings and recommendations as to how our city and state might address two ongoing issues:

  1. The ongoing “state of emergency” for youth mental health, as articulated by Children’s Hospital Colorado
  2. Increasing self-sufficiency standards among K-12 youth, so that they might become better prepared for the world they will inhabitant 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.

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

This is a presentation from one of two cohort groups who examined the youth self-sufficiency question. The group offered the following explanation and takeaways from their work:

In brainstorming self-sufficiency we began to think of what we wished schools taught us, contrasting from what we learned through community and external resources. We focused on skills fundamental to financial stability, pursuing passions, and achieving careers. Based on feedback from politicians, life coaches, business owners, and young adults with a variety of experiences, we found that interviewees from the Denver area are pleased with their education and career experience, but most people learned the most useful language, financial, and emotional skills from external outlets, but wished they would have learned these skills from their K-12 education. From the experts, we learned that robust non-academic and alternative education is imperative to furthering the success of our students.

As Gary Community Ventures moves forward with creating programs to help young adults become self sufficient, we recommend special attention to researching and advocating for changes in school curriculum to include more classes with highly specialized teachers in fields like long-term financial education and emotional health, as well as researching alternative graduation paths for students whose passions don’t follow the traditional college-track.

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 Professionals 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.