The 68 Denver women who make up the Denver Chapter of The Links, Incorporated represent an impressive variety of backgrounds and professions. They are newsmakers, activists, role models, mentors, and pillars of the community. And they all share a commitment to the core value of service.
The Links, Incorporated, in Denver in particular, have always represented women who are successful in their professions, deeply rooted in their community, and committed to the betterment of the African American Community," says LaDawn Sullivan, Director of Leadership and Equity at The Denver Foundation and current president of the Denver Chapter, The Links, Incorporated.
The Denver Chapter is the local arm of a national service organization, The Links, Incorporated, an African American women's organization whose 15,000 members work to improve the lives of people of color and the marginalized around the world.
Since its formation in 1952, the Denver Chapter has contributed more than $1 million in the areas of service, national and international trends and services, the arts, and health and human services. Those gifts include nearly $250,000 in college scholarships for local African American high school students. As part of the chapter's 50th-anniversary celebration in 2002, the Denver Chapter contributed $50,000 to help establish the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library in Five Points. The library is now a vital community resource, a place of inspiration, and home to an abundance of knowledge of African American history in the West.
Like many of The Denver Foundation's community partners, the Denver Chapter employs a broad definition of "philanthropy" that considers gifts of time, talent, and testimony as well as treasure. In addition to dollars, members donate about 5,000 hours of volunteer service annually.
Over the past eight years, many of those hours have been spent at Hallett Fundamental Academy in Northeast Park Hill, where African American youth comprise 75% of the student body; Hallett is the only elementary school within Denver Public Schools with a majority African American population. Denver Chapter volunteers support "Stepping into the Future," a full-spectrum program that includes weekly math and reading tutoring, journalism and reporting, creative writing, the arts, healthy eating and cooking, career exploration presentations from local African American professionals, and recreational programs like an annual ski trip.
"The partnership between the Denver Chapter and Hallett has had a tremendous effect on our school," says Jason Sanders, Principal of Hallett Fundamental Academy. "The impact has been huge."
"The partnership between the Denver Chapter and Hallett has had a tremendous effect on our school community."
When the Denver Chapter began working with Hallett Fundamental Academy in 2009, the school faced the possibility of closure due to low standardized testing results. Today, Hallett has received recognition for major improvements in school performance.
The Denver Chapter's relationship with Hallett Fundamental Academy is an example of the positive impact that can follow when generous people and groups invest time, money, and compassion into developing our local communities.
"The sense of community that is instilled has been palpable," says Sanders. "The work that our students do with the Denver Chapter brings stakeholders together to build a strong sense of connectedness and community."
As the Denver Chapter celebrates its 65th-anniversary in 2017, the women look forward to contributing to our community for another 65 years.
"There's something to be said about the sisterhood of women in The Links," says Sullivan. "We come together because we believe in friendship amongst women and commitment to the community. Because of these values, we recognize that our impact in the community will be much greater when we come together as a group, rather than try to accomplish these things on our own."
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