Enterprise Coworking Community Spotlight: Denver Families for Public Schools

This month Lauren sat down with Clarence Burton Jr. CEO of Denver Families for Public SchoolsDenver Families for Public Schools works with public school families, educators and community members to increase civic engagement and electoral participation, so that together they can contribute to educational equity, help shape the education policy that impacts students, and create the best school district for all.


LAUREN: [00:00:02] Hello and welcome back to Enterprise Coworking Community Spotlight. This month we are talking to Clarence Burton, CEO of Denver Families for Public Schools. Clarence, thank you for sitting down with us today and telling us a little bit about your company.


CLARENCE: [00:00:17] Thanks so much, Lauren. So our company, Denver Families for Public Schools, is a nonprofit organization here in Denver. And our mission is to engage the community civically and electorally in public education here in the city with the goal of repositioning community as the power brokers in public education.


LAUREN: [00:00:38] Oh, awesome. Awesome. How long have you guys been in business?


CLARENCE: [00:00:42] So we were founded in December of 2020, and so we've been here up and running for about two and a half years.


LAUREN: [00:00:52] Awesome. Um, what makes Denver Families different from other companies in your guys's field?


CLARENCE: [00:01:01] Sure. So when it comes to our work, I like to break it up into to three things. The first is our grassroots organizing work. And so we have a organizing team that you'll see walking all throughout the office here at Enterprise, and they're always coming and going because they're in school communities every day. So they work with parents and educators to get them engaged civically and electorally in public education. The second area of our work is our what we call sort of leadership development work, and that is things like our Lead 101 program, which gives again, folks from school communities exposure to what it looks like to think about running for school board someday, or learning more about high level education policy or politics here in the city and how they can pull on the levers of power to make sure that their voices are heard. And then the last piece is just broader leadership in the community. So we both do grant making to school communities and community based organizations to give them resources to engage civically here in local education work, as well as bring together folks either joining tables or building tables to have conversations about the future of public education in the city. And so all of that, when you think of sort of what's unique about our organization, is that from the grassroots to the grasstops, we really intentionally try to focus on bringing folks together in a way that's representative of the diversity that we have here in Denver and in our school communities to make sure that everyone has a seat at the table in deciding the future of public education in Denver.


LAUREN: [00:02:44] Nice, nice. This is very interesting because I feel like a lot of people might not know about this, you know, functions behind the scenes of all of this. So very cool to learn about here. Um, why did you guys choose Enterprise Coworking?


CLARENCE: [00:02:59] Yeah. So we decided sort of coming out of the pandemic, we wanted to get back and get office space and have some time with flexibility for the team, but some time where we could all be in an office environment together. And so we did do sort of a full sort of look around at the different options in Denver, both sort of traditional and coworking spaces. We ultimately felt a coworking space was the right fit and then did some visits of different options. And I won't sort of, you know, talk about any of the competitors here. But it became pretty clear that Enterprise was the best option. We just love the energy. When we were walking through sort of a couple of the other environments, it just kind of seemed like folks had their walls up or were kind of quiet or kind of dimly lit. And we just felt like, Hey, if you're coming into the office, something upbeat where folks really seem like they're having a good time and it's a real community, That's what that's what you want. When for us, we're in the office a couple times a week. And so we just love the energy of enterprise and that is what attracted us to the space.


LAUREN: [00:04:04] Love that. Yeah, we love having you guys around. I always see you guys in different areas of the space. You really take advantage of the whole building, which I love that. Um, so our last question, speaking to our viewers, is there anything else that you would like them to know about Denver Families?


CLARENCE: [00:04:23] Yeah, absolutely. I just like to talk about the work a little bit more and really the some of the challenges that we're trying to address through our work as a nonprofit. And, you know, one of the stats I like to start with is that when it comes to public education in Denver and say school board elections, which are one of those important levers, when you think of the leaders that are making decisions about our public schools, only 1 in 4 eligible voters actually votes in school board elections in Denver. And increasingly, that electorate doesn't look like the diversity that we have in our in our community and in our city. And so, one, want to encourage folks to get more engaged because you can't have a strong city without a strong public education system. What happens in our schools, in our city every day impacts all of us. And if you'd like to become more engaged, we have a lot of opportunities to do so. So really encourage you to visit our website at denverfamilies.org. Get connected to us in the hallway. If you just see me or someone on my team walking around, we'd be happy to introduce you to ways to become more engaged when it comes to defining public education in our city.


LAUREN: [00:05:33] Awesome. Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Clarence, for telling us a little bit about Denver Families. And we love having you guys as members in the space. If anybody like Clarence said, if anybody wants to learn some more or wants to find ways that they can engage more, please go to denverfamilies.org and check it out. Thanks, Clarence.


CLARENCE: [00:05:57] Thank you Lauren. It's my pleasure.