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.

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 complete its ascend was the Youth Cohort. Check back on this page for updates on all application periods for the Piton Fellowship. The application to join the inaugural cohort of Mid-Career Fellows will begin later in 2022.

Current Cohort Experiences & Dates

  • Check back on this page for updates on the inaugural Mid-Career Cohort experience, which will become available later in 2022.

Piton Fellowship 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 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 experience and community building process of the Piton Fellowship is ongoing. The application and nomination period for the Mid-Career Professionals Cohort will become available later in 2022.

Meet the Piton Fellows

Mariem Dia
From the Fellow:

“Being a Piton Fellow to me means taking control of your power and recognizing it to help your community thrive and prosper — to be a voice for your community. It means building a network to help you achieve what you set out to do. It means gaining experience.”

Timmale Dotson
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
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.”

FEATURED FELLOW: Perla Bustillos

Perla Bustillos is a member of our inaugural Young Professionals Cohort. She’s 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.

Ready to Join the Next Ascent in Leadership?

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. The inaugural cohort of the Youth fellowship ran from June 21 to July 26. Click here to meet the Youth Cohort. The inaugural cohort of Early Career Professionals ran from Nov. 5, 2021 to April 8, 2022. Click to meet that Early Career Professionals Cohort.

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.