The Community Challenge School (CCS) opened in the 2000-2001 school year to serve Denver’s most high-risk students. The mission of the school, which remained consistent throughout its existence, is the following:
The mission of Community Challenge School (CCS) shall be to continue to re-engage high-risk youth and families who have not experienced success in mainstream educational systems into a pro-social, positive peer culture educational milieu. CCS shall continue to bolster academic achievement through challenging, non-traditional teaching methods, and to support the student and the family with human services to enable them to develop a level of learning and a sense of responsibility as a community member.
This is reflected in CCS being designated by the State of Colorado as an alternative education campus with 100 percent of its students meeting one or more high-risk criteria. Criteria include being involved with gangs, alcohol or drug abuse, and expulsion from their previous school.
To meet the needs of these students, CCS offers a program that is unique to Denver Public School by integrating extensive human services program into the school. The Adolescent Counseling Exchange (ACE) is a non profit organization that is licensed by the Division of Behavioral Health (DOBH). ACE has served over 11,000 youth and families since its inception in 1994 and maintains positive relationships with many organizations that assist youth and families in developing a positive educational and social trajectory. Many of these youth are referred to ACE by the DPS as required by Policy Procedures JK-R, 1-6 and JICH-R. Prior to the establishment of CCS, ACE provided educational services for expelled students through a contract with the DPS.
In response to community demand, a proven need to assist Denver’s youth in getting back into school and completing at least a high school, and the success of its earlier efforts to combine educational and human services, in the year 2000, ACE created CCS as a separate entity in order to provide educational opportunities for more high risk students who would not likely finish high school. ACE/CCS now functions as a combined human services/education program with the same board of directors overseeing both organizations.