Timeline of Key Events

In 1993, Summer Scholars’ first summer program served 20 young students. This year, as we celebrate our 25th Anniversary, we expect to serve about 2,500 students in our summer and after-school programs. Here’s a timeline of key events that helped propel our growth.


1993: First program.

Dr. Paul Hamilton, principal at Hallett Elementary, and Cyndi Kahn, a volunteer at the school, team up to provide a half-day literacy tutoring program in the summer of 1993. The outcomes report indicates success!

1994: A data-driven organization emerges.

Cyndi enlists Jessica Pearson. Through her Center for Policy Research, Jessica is the driver behind a comprehensive approach to student student assessment and program evaluation.

1994: Rapid expansion.

Jessica Pearson invites Dolores Moreno to partner in their efforts. As a result of Dolores' commitment, Denver's Department of Parks and Recreation begins its partnership -- a partnership that continues to this day. The literacy organization and DPR provide full-day summer programming to 511 DPS students.

1995: We're official!

Summer Scholars is incorporated in Colorado, and granted tax-exempt status by the IRS.

1997: First executive director.

Anne Byrne is hired as the founding executive director of Summer Scholars.

1998: First after-school programming.

Summer Scholars teams up with Americorps VISTA volunteers to provide after-school clubs and literacy supports.

2001: Breakfast of Scholars introduced.

Our first Breakfast of Scholars -- now our signature fundraising event -- was held in a school cafeteria.

2002: First 21st Century grant award.

A grant award from the 21st Century Community Learning Center program enables Summer Scholars to hire teachers and other professionals to provide better instruction for students enrolled in the Scholars After School program.

2004: Excellence in Education Award.

Summer Scholars receives the Charles L. Tutt Award for Excellence in Education from the El Pomar Foundation.

2005: Endowment established.

Thanks to Jim Bye and The Pioneer Fund, the Helen M. McLoraine Endowment Fund for Summer Scholars is established at the Denver Foundation, with an initial gift of $1 million.

2005: Excellence in Summer Learning Award.

Summer Scholars is the inaugural recipient of the Excellence in Summer Learning Award from the Center for Summer Learning at Johns Hopkins University. Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and DPS Superintendent Michael Bennet celebrated with our scholars at City Park.

2005: Innovation Award.

Summer Scholars is awarded an Innovation Award from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation -- one of four organizations selected from more than 550 applicants.

2006: Endowment campaign.

Summer Scholars launches an endowment campaign that increases the value of the McLoraine Endowment to more than $1.7 million.

2008: Capacity building.

Summer Scholars conducts a successful capacity-building campaign, enabling the organization to build a management team and invest in upgraded IT and software solutions.

2010: Kathleen King hired.

After more than a dozen years at the helm of Summer Scholars, Anne Byrne departs and Kathleen King is named the new president of the organization.

2012: Strategic planning.

Board president Ginny Bayless leads a strategic planning process. One of the four key strategic goals identified: Create a marketing/branding campaign for Summer Scholars.

2013: Market research.

After a thorough process, Launch Advertising is selected as our marketing firm. Launch's market research confirms that the name "Summer Scholars" is no longer consistent with the organization's programs and brand.

2015: New name.

Our new identity is revealed at the Breakfast of Scholars. Say hello to Scholars Unlimited!

2016: CodeSpire is launched.

Scholars Unlimited launches CodeSpire, a social enterprise that provides computer coding classes and camps. Profits from CodeSpire supports Scholars Unlimited's summer and after-school programs.

2017: Diana Romero Campbell named president.

When Kathleen King announced her retirement, the search was on. Diana Romero Campbell was selected as our new organizational leader.

2018: Pushing boundaries.

For the first time, we provide services beyond DPS with the addition of programs at Park Lane Elementary in Aurora.

2018: It's our 25th anniversary!

We're celebrating 25 years of creating brighter futures for young children!