DENVER (CBS4) – It started out in 1962 with an enrollment of six children and two teachers, but Denver’s HOPE Center is now one of the city’s largest community based organizations.
HOPE Center helps special needs as well as talented and gifted children ages 2 1/2 to 5.
Gerie Grimes has been with HOPE Center for 33 years, and has spent 15 of those years as Executive Director.
It’s her passion because she says the program works.
“Of all the statistics how many children of color by the time they get to kindergarten are not prepared? And that’s not going to happen at HOPE Center,” she said.
HOPE Center has a diverse staff and the teacher-to-child ratio is low.
“We just take pride and say ‘We know we’re a model program,’ ” she said.
Grimes says teachers stay with HOPE Center on average for 15 years.
“When we talk about generations of kids coming back and when they come back and say ‘My teacher is still here!’ At a early childhood program that is unheard of in our field,” Grimes said.
Jessica Ntepp spent time at HOPE Center as a youngster. She’s now in her last year at the Denver School of the Arts, where she’s a dance major.
Ntepp told CBS4 the center nurtured her creativity and helped both her and her parents recognize she was gifted and talented.
“I just remember it was very creative and fun and everyone looked colorful,” she said.
“I come back here and I just remember that it was such a special place to be. It’s not just a normal school or day care for little kids to go to. It’s something that actually grew me,” she said.
Those words don’t surprise Grimes.
“We know we have a niche because we do it well,” she said.
You can help the HOPE Center by donating to them at hopecenterinc.org.