Project VOYCE

Project VOYCE empowers Denver's youth

February 23, 2011

Engaging high school-aged students has challenged educators for decades. Now students at three Denver high schools say they are being heard through Project VOYCE (Voices of Youth Changing Education).

Five students who have been involved with Project VOYCE gathered Feb. 22 to discuss the program and to share their personal experiences. The event: Tapping the Power of Student Voice to Accelerate Teacher Effectiveness and Student Engagement was hosted at the University of Colorado Denver’s Lawrence Street Center, Terrace Room as part of our P-20 Speaker Series.

CU Denver’s P-20 Initiative is headed by Janet Lopez, PhD, who reminded those assembled that “classroom effectiveness starts with teachers and students actually connecting in the classroom.”

Project VOYCE has been developing ways to utilize the insights and passions of inner city youth to improve Colorado schools and change students’ lives since 2006. This is an effort recognized by President Barack Obama in his recent State of the Union address. It also was the subject of an article last December in the New York Times: What Works in the Classroom? Ask the Students.

During the VOYCE session on campus, 10th grader Brenda Rodriquez said “The Project has helped me to improve myself. And, it helped me to have a voice in my school.”

Lorenzo Sanchez, now a Daniels Fund Scholar at the University of Denver, admits he “ditched school a lot at Bruce Randolph,” but now he is studying to be a teacher himself.

Manual High School senior Sir Martin said he “was headed to being a thug” but he “found I am a better person than where I was headed. Now, I’m trying to help create other leaders. I’m a man with a plan targeted to middle schoolers.” Martin explained that his “inspiration is based on chess and making the right moves.”

As the program wrapped up, Martin asked members of the audience – many who are studying to be teachers – to consider what they think motives student and to recognize the value of peer interaction as supported by Project VOYCE.

Next event in the Speaker Series: Tuesday March 15, 2011: How Colorado Builds a “Whatever it Takes” Community. This presentation will feature Dr. Maria Guajardo, Office of Denver Mayor; Miguel In Suk Lovato, Daniels Fund; and Dr. Nate Easley, Denver Scholarship Foundation. For more information on the event please click here. To RSVP please email