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 Metro Denver Leaders Ages 14-20

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

The Piton Fellowship cohort to begin its next ascent is the Youth Cohort, a group of budding leaders ages 14-20. 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 from June 5 to July 28, 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.

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 later in 2023.

Current Cohort Experiences & Dates

The fellowship will take place from June 5th through July 28th with fellows meeting in person at the Gary offices in Union Station roughly 20-25 hours per week. Fellows will participate in individual and collective leadership learning and have the opportunity to provide recommendations for change specific to their communities. Each fellow will also have the opportunity to gain social capital from being part of the Piton Network of fellows and alumni. 

Piton Fellowship Applicant Requirements

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 this summer (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 other young leaders 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 way to better yourself. You’re going to be introduced to new skills. 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:

“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 that, but it was new to me. It’s a place to safely explore things like social-emotional learning. 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.

Application Information

The Youth Cohort application process has two strategic deadlines on March 3 & March 31

**NOTE: We have experienced some technical issues during Wave 1 of our application and nomination cycle for the 2023 Youth Cohort. We believe we have corrected those issues, but if you are still having difficulty applying or nominating a fellow, please contact us at piton@garycommunity.org.**

The first application and nomination deadline will be March 3, and the second will be March 31. Our applicant review schedules are outlined below. We will review, interview and offer in two separate waves, based on the two deadlines. If an applicant applies by March 3, they will follow the Wave 1 Timeline. Any applicant that submits an application between March 4 and March 31, will follow the Wave 2 timeline. Please note that we will prioritize applicants who submit by the early deadline, so we encourage prospective fellows to apply as soon as possible.

Have questions? Feel free to contact us at piton@garycommunity.org. Otherwise, please review the timelines and submit your application.

**NOTE: We experienced some technical issues during Wave 1 of our application and nomination cycle for the 2023 Youth Cohort. We apologies for that, and believe we have corrected those issues. But if you are still having difficulty applying or nominating a fellow, please contact us at piton@garycommunity.org.**

Looking to submit a nomination, not an application? Click here
Wave 1 Timeline – application deadline: March 3
  • Applications reviewed on an ongoing basis beginning February 20, 2023 until March 3. 
  • Applicants Empathy Interviews on an ongoing basis until March 10, 2023
  • Applicants Small Group Dialogue Circles: March 13-17, 2023
  • Accepted Applicants Notified: March 21, 2023
  • Applicants Acceptance Deadline: March 24, 2023
WAVE 2 timeline – application deadline: March 31
  • Applications reviewed on an ongoing basis beginning March 4 until March 31. 
  • Applicants Empathy Interviews on an ongoing basis until April 7, 2023 
  • Applicants Small Group Dialogue Circles: April 10-April 14 
  • Accepted Applicants Notified: April 18, 2023
  • Applicants Acceptance Deadline: April 21, 2023

Youth Cohort Application

Piton Fellowship
Please select your language.

Home Address

Enter “N/A School” if School is not applicable.

Parent/Guardian Information

We want to get to know you. Below are four questions to help us do just that. Please answer them in either a two page written response or a three minute (max) video or voice recording. You may answer questions one by one or through telling a personal story:

  • Why do you want to be part of the Piton Youth Fellowship cohort?
  • What does leadership mean to you?
  • What is something you’re passionately working on for the benefit of your community, your school, or yourself? Why is it a focus for you?

File Upload Options:

You have two options to upload your response. If you have any issues, please contact Piton@garycommunity.org

1) Upload the file directly (any file type accepted- maximum size= 35MB)
2) Upload the file to google drive and share a viewable link

Demographic Information: Note: We are using this information to ensure we have a representative group of applicants that reflect the demographics of the Denver Metro Area and to help us target our outreach when we do not.

SF Ids

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.

Looking to learn more about the fellows who’ve completed the program? The inaugural cohort of Early Career Professionals ran from Nov. 5, 2021 to April 8, 2022. Click to meet that Early Career Professionals Cohort. 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 the Mid-Career fellowship will begin their work later in 2023. Check back on this page later for more information about this group.

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.