Piton Fellowship


The Piton Fellowship

Gary Community Ventures is helping Colorado’s next generation of changemakers ascend in leadership and make a positive impact on their communities through the Piton Fellowship.

Named after the piton, a tool to help climbers ascend routes too treacherous to attempt alone, The Piton Fellowship encourages predominantly leaders of color in business, government and nonprofit sectors to expand their knowledge, network and potential to drive positive change for themselves and their communities.

Calling All Metro Denver Business, Nonprofit & Policy Leaders

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

The latest Piton Fellowship cohort to begin its ascent is the Mid-Career Cohort, a group of budding leaders with 10+ years of experience. With a strong focus on justice, racial equity, diversity and inclusion, this program 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. While fellows will gain collective benefits from being part of the Piton network, each fellow will also have the opportunity to get personalized coaching to guide them along their unique journeys of impact.

Check back on this page for updates on all cohort application periods for the Piton Fellowship. The application to join the Early Career Professional Cohort, open to those with 2-5 years of work experience, will begin in February. The Youth Cohort, open to changemakers age 14-20, will open later in 2023.

Current Cohort Experiences & Dates

The Mid-Career Cohort will follow the schedule below.

  • Application Launches: 12/19/2022
  • Application Closes: 1/20/2023
  • Candidate Interviews: 1/30/2023-2/3/2023
  • Candidates Notified: 2/7/2023
  • Candidates Offer Acceptance Deadline: 2/7-2/10/ 2023
  • Fellowship Window Opens: 02/27/2023
  • Kick-Off (within Driving Distance of Denver): 3/1- 3/3/2023
  • Session 1: 3/14/2023
  • Session 2: 4/4/2023
  • Session 3: 4/18/2023
  • Venture (tentatively in New Orleans, Louisiana): 5/3-5/5/2023
  • Session 4: 6/6/2023
  • Session 5: 6/27/2023
  • Session 6: Retreat (within Driving Distance of Denver): 9/13-15 2023

Piton Fellowship Applicant Requirements

We’re looking for leaders who…
  • Are committed to championing causes that serve Colorado kids and families.
  • Are enthusiastic about expanding their knowledge and advocacy of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion, particularly through a lens of race.
  • 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 leaders of color by building a network of fellows, experts, and community members to drive change and support civic and professional leadership.

DEVELOP talents through personalized skill-building, coaching, and real-time opportunities to advance your current and future work aspirations.

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.”

Meet Piton Fellow Alumni

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.

Apply Now

The Mid-Career Cohort application is now closed.

The Youth Cohort application period will open in February 2023. The application periods for the Early Career Professionals Cohort and the next Mid-Career Cohort will both open later in 2023. 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.

Which Cohort is Right for You?

The Piton Fellowship is open to budding leaders with an array of experiences.

The Early Career Professionals Cohort is designed for professionals with 2-5 years of work experience, the Youth Cohort is designed for changemakers age 14-20 who are eager to have an impact on their communities, and the Mid Career Cohort is open to leaders with 10+ years of experience.

Whether you’re looking to apply to the fellowship or interested in supporting our programming, we’re happy to answer any questions you may have about the Piton Fellowship. 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.