Piton Fellowship


The Next Ascent in Leadership

Gary Community Ventures, formerly known as Gary Community Investments and The Piton Foundation, is helping Colorado’s next generation of community changemakers ascend in leadership through The Piton Fellowship. The Youth Cohort application is now closed, and the Mid-Career Professionals Cohort application will become available later in 2022.

A piton is designed to help climbers ascend historically impassable routes treacherous to attempt alone. The Piton Fellowship is designed to help business, government and nonprofit leaders 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. We encourage everyone to apply, and we will continue to prioritize applicants of color and youth from diverse backgrounds.

Calling All Budding Metro Denver Leaders

Gary is looking to partner with our next generation of civic leaders.

The latest Piton Fellowship cohort to accept its first round of applications was the Youth Cohort. Applications for this cohort closed on April 1, 2022. Grounded in Gary’s values, the Youth Cohort is a free, 6-week intensive fellowship program in the summer (June-July 2022) for community changemakers ages 14-20 looking to expand their learning and progress on their leadership journey alongside a network of peers. Gary is committed to eliminating attendance barriers for all fellows and can provide support for those who need it in regards to transportation and childcare. Additionally, meals are provided during each fellowship session, and those who complete the program will receive a $2,100 payment.

Youth Cohort Experiences & Dates

  • This will be a 6-week fellowship experience, running from June 20 to July 29
  • Fellows can expect to meet Monday through Friday for about 20-25 hours per week
  • Experiences for this fellowship will include kick-off events during the first week, full day sessions once a week after that, meetings with project teams, one-on-one goal setting, final project presentations and an alumni celebration

Youth Cohort Applicant Requirements

We’re looking for leaders who…
  • Are committed to championing causes that serve Colorado kids and families.
  • Are Innovators, creative thinkers and change agents who are constantly thinking about how to build breakthrough solutions that will support their communities.
  • Are empathetic leaders with a strong willingness to learn and collaborate with those who have diverse perspectives.
  • Live in Metro Denver (specifically Adams, Arapahoe, Denver and Jefferson counties), as this is a place-based fellowship.

Why Become a Piton Fellow?

During the program, Piton Fellows in the Youth Cohort will have the opportunity to…

LEARN from inspirational changemakers in business, government and nonprofit, in the Denver metro area and across the country.

CONNECT with their community by building a network of fellows, experts and community members who will help them explore how to become a leader and drive needed change.

BUILD talents through 1:1 goal setting support and opportunities to explore potential career and professional interests.

DEVELOP as human beings through facilitated conversations designed to help fellows uncover their core values, powerfully embrace their identities, improve their communication strategies and push through barriers.

About Gary Community Ventures

Gary Community Ventures partners with our community to reshape the arc of opportunity for Colorado kids and families.

Since 1976, we’ve worked to leverage business, policy and philanthropy to break down the biggest barriers to opportunity and co-create breakthrough solutions for those who need it most. We listen with humility to our community and partners, learning together to drive action that guarantees School Readiness, Youth Success, and Family Economic Mobility. Whether we’re growing solutions that already exist, building solutions that don’t yet exist or changing the policy landscape, we dare to be bold, working urgently with our community and partners to deliver a future where all Colorado kids can grow up healthy and reach their full potential.

Although our initiatives now live under the Gary Community Ventures name, we intentionally chose to honor our history as The Piton Foundation in selecting 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.

About our Fellowship Design Partners

As with all our ventures, Gary Community Ventures designed The Piton Fellowship in partnership with our community. Iesha Mitchell was part of that group.

Iesha Mitchell, Director of Community Partnerships at Invest in Kids, was among those whose feedback was vital to the development of The Piton Fellowship. Having participated in the Colorado Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Fellowship and the Colorado Education Policy Cohort at the University of Colorado, Mitchell shared how these valuable programs helped her build new networks and skills as a young leader of color.

“I think it’s really hard to design something for someone without their voice in it. Historically we’ve done that,” Mitchell said. “What’s the point of a fellowship? What’s the opportunity it presents fellows? You don’t know until you talk to those who will occupy that space. This isn’t a new concept, but I have seen (the Gary team) focus on it — building for the community with the community.”

*NOTE: The Early Career Professionals cohort of the Piton Fellowship is ongoing. The application and nomination period for the Mid-Career Professionals will become available later in 2022.

Meet Current Piton Fellows

Perla Bustillos

Perla Bustillos is the co-founder and engagement manager at Ednium: The Alumni Collective, a growing coalition of recent Denver Public Schools alumni who want more from their public education system. As a leader of the collective, Perla is helping Ednium collect insights from alumni while offering them a space to develop leadership skills and an advocacy platform to move ideas — like new K-12 financial literacy and ethnic studies curriculums — into action.

Anya Dickson-Arguello
Hue-Man Experience Coordinator, Tattered Cover Bookstore
From the Fellow:

“If I could’ve had the same sort of support and community that I’ve found in Piton at 14-20 years old, I can only imagine the difference it would’ve made. I think I’d be a lot more confident. I think I’d be more sure of myself. Young people deserve that. We all deserve to explore questions like, Who are you as a person? What do you want for yourself and your community? How are you going to get there? This program will help you answer those questions.”

Timmale Dotson
On-Air Personality, Rocky Mountain PBS
From the Fellow:

“Piton is a great thing to get involved with to better yourself. You’re going to be introduced to new skills and techniques. Some you’ll use, some you won’t. But that intro is huge. You should never get too comfortable in life. You should always look to improve yourself. Gary offers that. Also, you’re gonna meet some plugs, man. Straight up. Cats who are plugged in. Now your network is stronger. It’s not necessarily what you know, it’s who you know. You get to experience different people, different places and different work.”

Laura Valle Gutierrez
Senior Policy Analyst, Bell Policy Center
From the Fellow:

“I think it’s one of those spaces where you get to be around people who are like you. It can’t be understated how important those spaces are that allow you to be an authentic version of yourself. Some people have already had opportunities like this, but it was new to me. Having a space to explore a little bit more about social emotional learning. It’s a place to safely explore. This is not a space where you’re going to be the only Latina, either. You don’t have to explain why you’re here — you can just be yourself.”

Ready to Join the Next Ascent in Leadership?

The Youth Cohort application period ended April 1, 2022. The Mid-Career Professionals Cohort application period will open later in 2022.

Check back on this page for updates on all application periods for the Piton Fellowship. For prospective fellows who applied for the Youth Cohort, please note the response dates below:

  • Final Acceptance Deadline
    • Application closes: April 1
    • Phone screens: April 1-20
    • Virtual dialogue circles: April 25-29
    • Accepted applicants notified: May 4

Once again, please note that applications for the Mid-Career Professionals cohort will become available later in 2022. The Early Career Professional cohort of the Piton Fellowship began on Nov. 5, 2021, and will run through April 8, 2022. Applications for the next Early Career Professionals cohort will become available towards the end of 2022.

Have questions? Feel free to contact us at piton@garycommunity.org.

Discover New Possibilities

Together, we will create the change our community wants to see. Whether you want to discover more about our ventures, or connect with a member of our team, we want to hear from you.