About Us

Our Mission

Our mission is to foster academic, social, and emotional growth for children living in metro Denver communities.

Our Vision: Our organizational vision is an unwavering commitment to empower students to achieve academic and personal success.

Our vision and mission are on the foundation of our values in the belief in every child’s potential, the belief in cultivating life-long learners, and the belief in the power of every child, family, and community.

Our History

It all started in 1993 with one child, named Chanel. She was in first grade at Hallett Elementary in Denver. And she was a struggling reader. Hallett’s principal lamented to Cyndi Kahn, a volunteer at the school, that he wished there was money available for a summer school program to help Chanel and others like her. Cyndi was inspired to do something.

So she raised some money, rounded up two teachers, and set up a summer literacy tutoring program to help Chanel and 19 other students at Hallett. The program was so successful that Cyndi and many, many others – most in the Park Hill community – decided that the program should not only continue, but expand.


We're Unstoppable

We are very excited to share our 2023 Annual Report with you!

Our Team

Our Board of Directors

Tina Martinez - Chair

Tina Martinez has dedicated her career to collaborative efforts that foster a future in which all children and families thrive. In her role as Vice President of Learning and Community Engagement at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, she brings together diverse stakeholders to create meaningful experiences that connect people across Colorado with the wonders of nature and science.

Tina takes pride in serving on the boards of Scholars Unlimited and Clayton Early Learning, actively supporting their impactful initiatives for children and families in the metro Denver area.

Together with her husband, Jason, and their daughters, Santiana and J Senia, Tina shares a deep commitment to out-of-school programs, having experienced their transformative power as participants, staff, and volunteers.


Nikki K. Holmlund - Vice Chair

Nikki is a Colorado native who is currently the Business Manager for Jefferson County Open Space in Golden, Colorado. She has been a proud public servant for more than twelve years and is dedicated to the betterment of our state by helping citizens succeed on all levels. Nikki works with regional leaders and partners, community members, and several non-profit organizations to ensure that she is doing all she can to expand the range of what’s possible in Denver’s most vulnerable neighborhoods. She has a truly keen ability to listen to others and to connect with a diversity of groups and individuals by meeting them where they are and she does so to make a difference and, ultimately, motivate future generations.

Nikki graduated Magna Cum Laude from CU Denver with a BFA in wood sculpture and a focus on business management. She has worked in operations and finance for over 20 years and brings a unique perspective to the world of numbers. She loves volunteering, gardening, and spending time with her wife and daughter, and would rather ride her bike more than any other mode of transportation on the planet!

Angela Choi - Secretary

Angela Choi joined Precious Metals Summit Conferences as Vice President, Operations
in 2022. Angela is a seasoned Project and Event Manager with nearly 20 years of
experience working directly with the Executive staff across a wide range of sectors,
spanning financial institutions and banking, oil & gas, tech, public administration, and
non-profit entities. Prior to joining the Precious Metals Summit, Angela was most
recently Administrative Manager Regional Commercial Coordinator at UMB Bank in Denver, Colorado where she led her division’s planning & events initiatives for the bank’s top commercial and retail clients. A Denver native, Angela enjoys camping,
fishing, and enjoying the local music scene. She brings a unique perspective to any

Ramiro Jimenez - Treasurer

Ramiro Jimenez, is a Senior Vice President with FirstBank’s TreasuryManagement Department. His career started in 2013 in theCalifornia Market where he focused largely on Mortgage lending and business development. Looking for an opportunity to expand his commercial knowledge, he moved to Colorado in 2021 to join the Treasury Management department where he specializes in business development, commercial banking, treasury management product development, and project management. Ramiro was raised in the Coachella Valley of Southern California and earned his Bachelor’s degree in Management from the University of California, Merced. Ramiro spent the last 3 years serving on the board of the Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Consortium for Early Learning Services and Martha’s Village.

Martha Bahamon - Director

Martha Bahamón is guided by the belief in making the world a better place by harnessing the power of philanthropy to drive social mobility for under-resourced communities. By leveraging social impact investments, government grants, corporate contributions, and employee engagement, she has been able to raise over $50M to catapult non-profits and higher education institutions to new heights. She specializes in discovering where philanthropic opportunities lie by positioning organizations to promote equitable access to social services, education, and healthcare.

Martha recently served as Managing Director of Development at the National Skills Coalition (NSC) overseeing grants management and donor engagement efforts. Prior to joining NSC, she was Executive Director of Development for Foundation Relations, at the University of Denver. Under Martha’s leadership, she led campus wide funder engagement strategies securing multimillion dollar grants to support scholarships, programs, and research. 

Martha launched her fundraising career at the United Way in Newark, New Jersey, and then went on to lead fundraising efforts for the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Rutgers Biomedical Health Sciences, and the Hispanic Federation in New York City. She holds a B.A. in political science from Rutgers University, followed by an M.A. in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, from NYU’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and an MPA from the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service also at NYU. Martha has served on several non-profit boards and is an active volunteer supporting several organizations in Colorado.

Will Chan - Director

Will brings a wealth of experience in the public sector as a champion of historically marginalized and diverse populations. Currently, Will Chan is serving as the Director of External Affairs and Strategy in the City and County of Denver through executive leadership roles with the Denver Public Library, Mayor’s Office of the North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative, Denver Economic Development & Opportunity, and a former candidate for Denver City Council At-Large. Will brings a unique perspective to addressing needs for underresourced communities across a number of areas including grassroots community organizing, nonprofit capacity building, cultural equity and community engagement, fundraising, grants management, to legislative and government affairs. Will’s service continues in his work with the community, having served as a member of the Denver Asian American and Pacific Islander Commission, Denver Public School’s Mill Oversight Committee, and the Denver County Cultural Council under SCFD. He has also served as a regional ambassador for the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Currently he serves on the executive team for PlatteForum and the Colorado Nonprofit Development Center. Among his honors, Will has been awarded Denver Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 award, ColoradoBiz Magazine’s GenXYZ Award, Library Journal’s Mover and Shaker award, the EY Next Generation Leadership award with the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts, and a Denver Changemaker for the Denver Post’s 80/95 Award.

Alexandra Lansing - Director

Alexandra Liscia Lansing was born and raised in the historic Park Hill neighborhood in Denver, Colorado. She continued her studies at the University of Colorado in Boulder where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and Design and certificates in Community Leadership and Conflict Resolution. She has an eclectic career background in Architecture, Interior Design, Marketing, Graphic Design, Industrial Design, and Education. She currently runs her own business doing Architecture and Interior Design and is involved in numerous passion projects to combine arts and social justice and equity. She will also be teaching at Metropolitan State University of Denver this coming Fall 2022, in which she is creating a curriculum based on Upcycling materials into furniture and home goods, and how designers can make an impact on the world through product design. She is delighted to be a part of the Scholars Unlimited program as it influenced who she is today and will continue to have an impact on her role in the world.

Sal Mensah - Director

Sal is VP, Client Account Manager, Jacobs Engineering and an accomplished professional with more than 18 years of experience in the transportation and infrastructure industry. His expertise encompasses client account management, program and project management, bridge design, and construction quality assurance.

Currently serving as Vice President and Client Account Manager for Utah Transportation at Jacobs, Sal excels in cultivating strategic business relationships and positioning Jacobs as a trusted and preferred partner. Beyond his professional duties, Sal is actively involved in leading STEM activities as a volunteer, demonstrating his passion for inspiring and empowering others. He has participated several years in the Scholars Unlimited/Jacobs Next Generation City Builders summer volunteer day. In his leisure time, he finds joy in being active and participating in outdoor activities including mountain biking and snowboarding. Sal has been married for 21 years and is a proud parent to three teenagers.

Christine Muldoon - Director

For the past 18 years, Christine has lead programming targeted at ensuring equitable education opportunities to all children and youth-especially those who experience barriers due to disability, racism, socioeconomic status and more. 

Currently, Christine serves as MSU Denver’s Director of the Office of Education Solutions. This Office was created as a community-outreach initiative of the School of Education. The Office of Education Solutions goes beyond teacher preparation to help schools directly by leveraging the expertise and resources of the University to implement strategies cutting edge programming. 

Prior to coming to MSU Denver, Christine was the Director of Culture, Equity and Language for Sheridan Schools. This included family involvement, the McKinney Vento federal program, and the emerging bilingual program. Sheridan is a highly impacted district with 90% free and reduced lunch coupled with a large group of residents with immigration and civil rights needs.

She was thrilled to introduce the Scholars Unlimited program to Sheridan Alice Terry principal, Diego Romero, in 2018. Christine believes in Scholars Unlimited and  supported the vast amount of improvement Diego made within the school. Alice Terry Elementary received the Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Award for school year 2022. 

Christine is an advocate of extended-day programming, and firmly believes it is a necessary tool for leveling the playing field for all children and youth – especially those who experience barriers due to disability, racism, socioeconomic status and more.

Scholars Unlimited lettermark.
Esmeralda (Esme) Rodriguez - Director

Born and raised in Denver, Esmeralda (Esme) attended Montbello High School before continuing her education at Colorado State University where she majored in social work along with an interdisciplinary leadership studies minor. She was the first in her family to attend college and believes there is something powerful in giving back to the community. Over the past 10 years, Esmeralda’s work has focused on nonprofit organizations and higher education. As a proud Denver Public Schools (DPS) alumna, Esme feels a wonderful sort of deja vu, being able to work at a DPS school and with remarkable students and families who carry the dream she once carried. Esme serves as the co-chair of DSF’s Alumni Advisory Committee and is inspired by DSF’s culture and dedication to the values of equity, relationship building, and leadership. In her free time, Esme likes to travel, go to the mountains, explore new restaurants, and spend

Melissa Rosas- Director

As the first generation in her family to attend and complete college, Melissa understands the importance that education has and its path to lead to successful outcomes.  She earned her bachelor’s in civil engineering from Marquette University and has worked as a transportation engineer for a private consultant working on public sector projects for over 20 years.  She thrives being part of community-based organizations and has had experiences as a board and committee member for numerous local organizations and is passionate about the work that Scholars Unlimited is doing to foster growth of our future and therefore leading them down the path towards successful outcomes. She has proven to be an incredible leader and represents Scholars Unlimited as a Board Member with the awareness of how important it is to provide opportunities and to foster thriving communities.  She resides in North Denver with her husband and two sons.

Stephen Rousey - Director

Stephen lives in Parker, Colorado and enjoys all the outdoor activities this great state offers. A favorite family activity of Steve’s is to cheer on Colorado sports teams. He has been in the software development industry for 20 years managing teams building web and mobile applications. Stephen’s interest in Scholars Unlimited comes from his belief in the value of STEM based learning in a safe, diverse, and inclusive environment. He is married to his wife Ashley, a 2nd grade teacher in the Parker area. He has two children, Ellie, an active competitive dancer and Easton, an avid football and basketball player. As a family they enjoy the outdoors, traveling and experiencing new places.

Jessica Smith - Director

Jessica leads Holland & Hart’s nationwide Religious Institutions and First Amendment practice group and is a member of its Business Litigation Group. Jessica handles a wide variety of matters in the Religious Institutions and First Amendment Group, including defamation, reporter’s privilege, Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses of the Federal Constitution, their states analogues, tax exemptions, and other key legal doctrines specific to the First Amendment. Jessica also counsels and represents clients on the other state and federal constitutional subjects, including takings, cruel and unusual punishment, due process, equal protection, and governmental immunity. 

As a member of the Business Litigation Group, Jessica represents businesses in state and federal court, mediation, and formal arbitration proceedings. She has experience handling bet-the-company litigation for clients, and her practice focuses on complex commercial disputes in the areas of breach of contract, fraud, intellectual property, labor and employment, real estate,and other business -related issues. Prior to joining Holland & Hart, Jessica clerked for the Honorable Gregory Phillips on the United States Court of Appeals for the the Tent Circuit and for the Honorable Gregory Hobbs on the Colorado Supreme Court. Jessica has a passion to serve the community and knows that education is an entry point for children to grow and thrive.

Jamie Villarreal-Bassett - Director

Jamie Villarreal-Bassett is an experienced leader with fifteen (15) years of leadership
experience, including more than six (6) years leading equity, diversity, and inclusion work. As a Mexican American woman, Jamie has a proven track record of impactful contributions, driven leadership, and passion for ensuring team members feel included, honored, and uplifted
regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, sex, sexual orientation, or other social identity markers. Her formal education in Sociology at Colorado College and a Masters of Science in Organizational Leadership at Colorado State University provide foundation to her life’s work to
drive the advancement of a more just, more inclusive, more diverse, and more equitable
experience for all.

Throughout her career, she has set visions for, led and empowered teams to provide a high standard of equity, inclusion, and diversity. Her personal and professional lived experiences have prepared her to excel in her 10+ year tenure in Denver Public Schools, most recently as the Director of Culturally Responsive Education and in her current role as Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Pinnacol Assurance, the largest workers compensation company in Colorado. Jamie partners with multiple stakeholders to guarantee every single team member and community member, especially those who are Black, Indigenous, People of Color and other marginalized identities thrives, not by accident, but by design.

Dr. Franita Ware - Director

Franita is the CEO of Franita Ware PhD Consulting LLC and committed to improving the experiences of students in American Education. Serving on the board of Scholars Unlimited would allow Franita to remain aligned with an organization that she has a prior working relationship and viewed as a trusted collaborator.

Franita served as a principal of Denver Public Schools and Scholars Unlimited was an organization that supported her students. She knew when the leadership, Site Coordinators and others were in the building, they were all committed to the needs of the students.

Later, Franita was invited to be the Keynote Speaker at the luncheon which allowed her to encourage members of the community to support the organization. Scholars Unlimited has also collaborated with Franita when she  provided Professional Development to the Site Coordinators in 2017 and it was the first time she presented Radical Self-Care, which has proven to be her most impactful work.