our mission

Building long-term, life-changing relationships with urban youth, equipping them to thrive and contribute to their community.

our team

Kevin Byerley
CEO
Kevin has a life-long passion for advocating for the “unseen, unknown, and unheard”. He deeply believes that life is an adventure and loves guiding and mobilizing teams to see the greatness in themselves and others.

He has been part of the Elevate model for more than 20 years and spent over a decade working daily as a Teacher Mentor with students in Denver. Kevin now serves as CEO, where he stewards a growing affiliation committed to a national culture of “best practice” and innovation.

As a first generation undergraduate and graduate degree holder, Kevin models for students that education and character are two essential vehicles for thriving. The vision of generations of thriving leaders is embedded in his calling at work and at home. Kevin loves being with his family (two young men, and wife) and doing any kind of adventure experience with them.
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John Oliver
Chief Operating Officer
John has spent more than two decades working in the youth services industry focused on providing opportunities so they can reach their full potential. He began working with youth in Denver at Colorado UpLift and has been serving economically disadvantaged communities in America since 2001. He puts his energy into building the infrastructure that is conducive for organizational growth and scale. He believes that the only way to see the vision realized is by hiring, retaining and growing talent that enters the organization.

When John isn’t on a whiteboard with Kevin, he is either playing drums in the band with his dad, spending time with his son, or fly-fishing on the river.
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Kevin Singleton
Senior VP of Leadership Development
Kevin Singleton is a Grammy Award winning songwriter, cross cultural musician, nonprofit youth development mentor and social entrepreneur. In 2009, Kevin founded Elevate New York, located in the poorest congressional district in America. Through Elevate, he has raised and invested over $4 million into NYC Community School District 8.

Remaining active as an Elevate New York board member, Kevin recently joined the Elevate USA national team as a VP of Leadership and Development. He is also a co-founder of Trellis, a nonprofit that supports Kevin’s personal mentoring efforts with musicians and inner-city youth. Whether it’s through basketball, mentorship or music, his life and work unfolds at the intersection of leadership, teaching, and inspiration.
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Krista Adams Wallace
Director of Learning Innovation
Krista has spent her career developing and empowering young leaders - much of that time using the outdoors! Krista’s desire to equip and educate children led her to launch an international Christian school in the Dominican Republic and serve as both Executive Director and Headmaster of the Doulos Discovery School. Doulos was the first international school to implement the innovative teaching methods of Expeditionary Learning. Prior to that, she helped launch Pico Escondido, a Young Life camp in the DR. She is a social entrepreneur who keeps looking for the next adventure.

Krista lives in Evergreen, CO with her husband and border collie, Blue. When she’s not teaching, you can find her on her bicycle or coffee farm in the Dominican Republic.
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Adam Roybal
Director of Affiliate Development
Born and raised in Denver, Adam’s family is rooted 500 years in Colorado and New Mexico. Red chile and New Mexican “corridos” (songs which tell stories) are important staples of his childhood. Family roots and strong relationships are at the heart of all he does, because the root-system of a tree is just as deep as the tree itself.

Adam has a passion for creativity through art and music. Adam saw his life as a blank canvas, and has spent his time – both personally and professionally – making it into a masterpiece. From planning youth conferences as a teenager, to mentoring younger students, Adam has spent his entire career in youth mentorship, serving 10 years at Colorado UpLift (Elevate’s founding affiliate). All of this led to the important work he is able to do each and every day with Elevate USA, launching and supporting affiliates around the nation.
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Dr. Rhonda Richmond
Program Director
Rhonda comes to Elevate with more than 25 years of experience in research, academic planning, training development and curriculum design. She is a gifted educator who has been recognized as a Master Scholar from the University of Denver (2009), Educator of the Year at Aurora Public Schools (2017), and received the University of Denver Robin Morgan Outstanding Woman Award which recognizes women staff, faculty, students, and alumna who have gone to exceptional lengths to promote an empowering environment for women at DU.

When she is not evaluating the Elevate program’s quality and effectiveness, she is probably painting something beautiful (her first language), relaxing on a boat with her husband, or watching cheesy romantic movies.
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Pamela Perea
Development Manager
Pamela comes to Elevate with more than 15 years of experience with one Elevate’s founding affiliate, Colorado UpLift, where she held many leadership roles. She most recently served as a Development Director and mentor in Las Vegas with an organization helping victims of human trafficking.

Pamela has a story similar to many of the students in Elevate and knew at a young age that she wanted to work with kids and wanted to be a child psychologist, as well as a mother. She nailed the mother role and today, Pamela’s biggest joy is time with her four sons, numerous grandchildren, countless former students, and dog Jax.
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Richard Speck
Director of Finance and Impact

Richard’s professional journey began working in a field hospital in far western Nepal which had its start in serving leprosy patients.  His experience there launched a 40 year career in the arenas of organizational development, financial management and impact measurement. For the past twelve years he served as the VP of an international nonprofit developing social entrepreneurs in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Richard holds an undergraduate BA from the University of Colorado, an MABS from Dallas Theological Seminary, and an MSPH from the University of Missouri.

He still loves walking through mountains. He and his wife have hiked along the Continental Divide trail in most of Colorado and Wyoming. He looks forward to teaching his grandchildren how to fly fish and can be challenged any time on the racquetball court.

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Emma Turnbull Onstott
Director of Marketing and Communications
Emma has spent her career helping nonprofits better tell their story. She believes compelling storytelling is the single most powerful catalyst for change, and she is passionate about building teams to “make a dent in the universe”. She is forever thinking of innovative ways for branding, content, creative, and marketing strategy to move people into action. She has led successful rebrands for well-established organizations, launched widely influential campaigns, and served as Editor-in-Chief for a quarterly print magazine on leadership with a circulation of nearly 100,000 women.

Emma lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband and Bernedoodle. When she’s not creating something for Elevate, you can find her coaching high school basketball, reading Harry Potter or making weekend plans she’ll later regret having made.
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Lacey Mabe
Finance and Administration Manager
Lover of music, dance, and positive thinking. Lacey is a self-proclaimed troublemaker and class clown. She is a thriving alumni student of Colorado UpLift and a firm believer that no community or child should be without Elevate USA. Lacey is driven to show all children that you can come back from anything, it is never too late, and you are worth it. She graduated from Regis University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, and a Minor in Human Resource Management. Bringing more than 15 years of service experience, Lacey provides Elevate affiliates with the highest level of service. Lacey married Colorado UpLift alumni student, Samuel Alvarez. Together they have four amazing boys: Samuel, Ezra, Sebastian, and Elijah. It is her honor to serve and be a part of the program that has helped shape the person she is today.
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Debbi Speck
President Emeritus
Debbi has spent her career designing, implementing and leading innovative programs for youth from under-served communities throughout the country. She is committed to the impact of strong relationships that inspire hope and change and she is committed to developing programs that are comprehensive enough to make significant, long-term impact.

Debbi lives in Arvada, Colorado with her husband, Richard. When she’s not hard at work on Elevate projects, you’ll find her in the baby pool in her backyard, jumping on the trampoline or at a local park with her grandchildren. If you don’t find her there, you may find her and Richard backpacking somewhere in the wilds along the Continental Divide Trail.
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Jim Pocock
Senior VP of Leadership Development
Jim Pocock comes to Elevate USA as the next step in his distinguished career in relationship development. As the President and Co-Founder of Elevate New England, Jim has firsthand experience seeing the impact Elevate can make in a community, which has inspired him to help bring Elevate to new cities. Throughout his career, Jim’s work has been helping professional executives develop personally and join together to work toward redeeming their communities. Most recently, Jim served as a major gift officer for a private liberal arts college. He has also served as a senior pastor in Connecticut, California and Massachusetts. Jim has degrees from Bucknell University and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and lives in America’s oldest fishing port, Gloucester, MA.
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Jack McGill
Senior VP of Leadership Development
Jack McGill has spent over forty years serving the nonprofit world. In 2008, he founded ELEVATE Orlando with the mission to equip urban youth to graduate with a plan for the future.

Before launching ELEVATE Orlando, Jack worked with the Christian ministry Cru and served as a campus minister for Auburn and Mississippi State, discipling college students. Jack also worked for Priority Associates, which is Cru’s ministry to develop the personal, professional, and spiritual life of professionals in the marketplace.

Jack graduated from Samford University and holds a Masters of Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Sheri, have three adult children and nine grandchildren. Today, Jack serves on the Board of Directors for ELEVATE Orlando and helps launch ELEVATE programs across the country.
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board members

Shawn McLaughlin
CEO
Emporia Energy 
Denver, CO (Chairman)

Jay Cleary, CLU, ChFC
President
Bridge Financial Group, LLC
Denver, CO (Treasurer)

Darren Dragovich
Vice President and Associate General Counsel, The Western Union Company
Castle Rock, CO

Lyn Cook
Secretary/Treasurer
Cook Pest Control
Decatur, AL

Christine Bess
Community Non-profit & Ministry Volunteer/Board Member
Littleton, CO

Jon Jay Seal
Owner/ President
Seal Furniture and Systems
Littleton, CO

Charles E. (Chaz) Mueller, Jr.
President
Progress Residential 
Dallas, TX 

Robert Griffith, M.D.
Alabama Dermatology Assoc.
Tuscaloosa, AL (Secretary)

Zke Zimmerman
100 Black Men of Savannah
Savannah, GA

Kevin Byerley
CEO
Elevate USA
Arvada, CO

Debbi Speck
President Emeritus
Elevate USA
Denver, CO

Marydel Harris
Sparrow Charitable Foundation
Dallas, TX

Mark Engstrom
Principal
Meadowstream Advisors
Scottsdale, AZ

Celso White
CO-CEO
Igniting Business Growth LLC
Englewood, Colorado

Scott Cousino
Founder
Coella Partners
Englewood, CO

our

seven

core

beliefs

  1. We believe that EVERY CHILD is of great worth and has the desire and potential to succeed.
  2. We believe that LONG-TERM, 24/7 RELATIONSHIPS with caring adults have proven positive outcomes in the lives of our urban youth.
  3. We believe that a HOLISTIC approach is essential for a strong and healthy future for our youth.
  4. We believe that FULL-TIME, SALARIED TEACHER-MENTORS WHO COME FROM SIMILAR BACKGROUNDS as the students can have a positive influence and make all the difference.
  5. We believe that the SERVANT LEADERSHIP, creating a culture of selflessness and service, is the foundation for leadership.
  6. We believe in the intrinsic DIGNITY of every person and act accordingly.
  7. We believe that COLLABORATION yields the best long-term results, acknowledging that the complex work in our urban centers cannot be done single handedly.

our history

1982

Dr. Kent Hutcheson, Founder

Dr. Kent Hutcheson founded Colorado UpLift in 1982 as a summer jobs program for urban, at-risk youth. Dr. Hutcheson’s passion was to help urban young people find hope in hopeless circumstances.

1987

Colorado UpLift

Colorado UpLift quickly changed its strategy in 1987 to teach character qualities and life skills needed for long-term success. Elevate staff members began providing leadership and character instruction in the Public School system for students from 4th grade through college. Along with the in-school program, Colorado UpLift regularly mentored students after school and throughout the summer, improving the odds for urban youth to emerge as successful, productive young adults.

2008

Model Replication Pilot Programs

After seeing the success of the UpLift model, Colorado UpLift launched the Model Replication Program, aimed at helping new cities launch. In 2008, the first affiliate, Elevate Orlando, launched, followed by Elevate Phoenix in 2009 and Elevate New York in 2010.

2014

Elevate USA Formed

In 2014, Elevate USA was formed by Colorado UpLift advocates, allowing Colorado UpLift to focus on the city of Denver and release Elevate USA to replicate the Colorado UpLift program in cities throughout the US.

2015

Elevate Indianapolis Launched

In 2015, Elevate Indianapolis was formed and began working with students from Arsenal Technical High School in Indianapolis, IN.

2016

Elevate New England Launched

In 2016, Elevate New England was formed and began working with students from Lowell High School in Lowell, MA.

2018

Elevate St. Louis 

In 2018, Elevate St. Louis was formed and began working with students from McCluer High School.

2018

Elevate Jacksonville Launched

In 2018, Elevate Jacksonville was formed and began working with students from Raines High School

2018

Elevate Dallas

In 2018, Elevate Dallas was formed and began working with students from Thomas Jefferson High School. 

2019

Elevate Metro KC Launched

In 2019, Elevate Metro KC was formed and will start serving students at Southeast High School.

2019

Elevate Savannah

In 2019, Elevate Savannah was formed and started serving students at Beach High School.

2020

Elevate New Jersey Launched

In 2020, Elevate New Jersey was formed and started serving students at Eastside High School in Paterson, NJ.

2021

Elevate Birmingham

In 2021, Elevate Birmingham was formed and started serving students at Huffman High School.

our history

1982

Dr. Kent Hutcheson, Founder

Dr. Kent Hutcheson founded Colorado UpLift in 1982 as a summer jobs program for urban, at-risk youth. Dr. Hutcheson’s passion was to help urban young people find hope in hopeless circumstances.

1987

Colorado UpLift

Colorado UpLift quickly changed its strategy in 1987 to teach character qualities and life skills needed for long-term success. Elevate staff members began providing leadership and character instruction in the Public School system for students from 2nd grade through college. Along with the in-school program, Colorado UpLift regularly mentored students after school and throughout the summer, improving the odds for urban youth to emerge as successful, productive young adults.

2008

Model Replication Pilot Programs

After seeing the success of the UpLift model, Colorado UpLift launched the Model Replication Program, aimed at helping new Elevate cities launch. In 2008, the first affiliate, Elevate Orlando, launched, followed by Elevate Phoenix in 2009 and Elevate New York in 2010.

2014

Elevate USA Formed

In January 2014, Elevate USA was formed by Colorado UpLift advocates, allowing Colorado UpLift to focus on the city of Denver and release Elevate USA to replicate the Colorado UpLift program in cities through the US.

2015

Elevate Indianapolis Launched

In the summer of 2015, Elevate Indianapolis was formed and began working with students from Arsenal Technical High School in Indianapolis, IN.

2016

Elevate New England Launched

In the summer of 2016, Elevate New England was formed and began working with students from Lowell High School in Lowell, MA.

2017

Elevate Las Vegas Launched

In the summer of 2017, Elevate Las Vegas was formed and began working with students from Mojave High School in Clark County.

2018

Elevate St. Louis Launched

In 2018, Elevate St. Louis was formed and began working with students from McCluer High School.

2018

Elevate Jacksonville Launched Launched

In 2018, Elevate Jacksonville was formed and began working with students from Raines High School.

2018

Elevate Dallas Launched

In 2018, Elevate Dallas was formed and began working with students from Thomas Jefferson High School.

2019

Elevate Metro KC Launched

In 2019, Elevate Metro KC was formed and will start serving students at Southeast High School.

2019

Elevate Savannah Launched

In 2019, Elevate Savannah was formed and started serving students at Beach High School.

2020

Elevate New Jersey Launched

In 2020, Elevate New Jersey was formed and started serving students at Eastside High School in Paterson, NJ.

2021

Elevate Birmingham Launched

In 2021, Elevate Birmingham was formed and started serving students at Huffman High School.

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a bold take on education