This is an excerpt from a 3-page letter we received from a former student… sitting in his jail cell.
“I’m 40 years old and almost half of my life has been in prison. I thought I’d be found “not guilty” at trial and could visit the Denver Street School again, but that day never came. I was convicted of murder and am serving life in prison without the possibility of parole.
I never forgot how important and how influential you all have been on my heart, and the impression you left… and I wanted to tell you that in person. But then I realized it wasn’t too late to write to you.
The work you’re doing will last a lifetime. I’m just one guy but I know there are many more.”
Years after he was expelled from DSS, this former student still remembers the mark we left on his life. And while the fire in his heart didn’t ignite then, a small spark did. And today, he carries that light.
He knows Jesus.
“If anyone comes to mind that’s going through a hard time, could you please tell them about me?
… Tell them about my bad decisions I so deeply regret.
… Tell them about the fury I concealed that hurt lives in ways that can’t be undone.
… Tell them it’s easier to work hard and live right for Jesus than undo years of loneliness in prison.
I’m sparing you the details of my life, my journey leading to prison, and my path since incarceration. Just know I’m ‘bout dat Jesus-life 24/7… and I’m not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I often tell people that prison didn’t change me and facing the death penalty didn’t change me.
What has changed me is the love Christ has for me.”
At DSS, this kind of story isn’t rare.
We see it all the time. Be it those who graduated from Denver Street School or those who were here for a short while, we shine the light of Jesus in meaningful ways. We treat them with dignity. We show them their value. We help students identify and overcome obstacles that keep them from success.
And we celebrate who God made them to be.
We hire talented teachers, create challenging curriculum, ensure program accreditation, fill in education gaps, provide trauma-informed care, and call students higher. Each day, we invest in their lives through advocacy, teach them life skills, and help them determine the next step after graduation. We may be a school first and foremost, but watching a student find Jesus is at the heart of what we do.
And when you partner with us, you’re part of that too.
Every time you invest in the Denver Street School, you’re investing in kingdom work. You’re walking out Matthew 5:14 which says we are the light of the world. You may not be in the hallways or classrooms, but your partnership enables these struggling students to hear about Jesus.
What God sparked in our founder, Tom Tillapaugh, almost 40 years ago… and what Tom ignited in the Denver metro area… we are now the torchbearers of His mission. Together we are a light for struggling students and working as one to fan the flames of hope in each soul that enters the doors of DSS.
Please continue to stand with us.
Your support will directly impact the Gospel going forward and ignite hearts for Jesus. Education may affect their future, but a relationship with Jesus will affect their eternity.