Peak Education

The Peak Education Story


Peak Education was born 20 years ago in the aftermath of a drive-by shooting on Valentine’s Day in 1997, a tragedy which left two teenagers dead and two others imprisoned. Co-founders Dr. H. Dalton Conner, a periodontal surgeon, and attorney Steven U. Mullens began almost immediately working with police and the principal of Carmel Middle School in the heart of that Southeast Colorado Springs community to design an outreach program to help students, both boys and girls, escape lives where violence, drugs, gangs, premature sex, and unwanted pregnancies were far too common.

Peak Education initially was conceived as a scholarship-based incentive program but quickly evolved into deep, long-term engagement with students and families focused on four strategies for success – college and career readiness, building students’ capacity for leadership, full family engagement in their students’ journeys, and creating broad-based community connections.

The bedrock outcomes sought literally since our beginning are:

• On-time graduation from high school,
• Pursuit of educational opportunity beyond high school, and
• Persistence until completion of those educational goals.

Over the history of Peak Education, more than 95% of our high school seniors in Harrison and Sierra high schools have graduated on-time in four years, and more than 90% have gone on to pursue education beyond high school. Our persistence rates to completion of our scholars’ educational goals have exceeded 80%. During the past five academic years, however, our outcomes are even better. All of our seniors have graduated from high school on time and all of them have pursued education opportunities beyond high school. Also, in the past five academic years, the number of students in our program has increased approximately 130%, from 105 to nearly 250.

Peak Education is a core partner of Harrison School District 2. While we are a community-based, fully independent 501 C 3 nonprofit organization, we would not be successful without this partnership and its bridge to our students. We present an annual briefing to the Harrison School District 2 Board of Education during a regular public meeting. The superintendent meets periodically with the CEO and Peak Education board leadership, and the Peak Education team works closely with building leadership, counselors and teachers on recruiting and programming support in the schools we serve.

Now in its 19th year, Peak Education has developed a proven model of success built on four effective strategies:

• College and Career Readiness
• Leadership Development
• Family Engagement
• Community Connection

These strategies have contributed to the success over the past four years of 100% of our Peak Education students graduating from high school in four years and 100% of those graduates pursuing higher education. Peak Education students now have more confidence in their abilities and a strong sense of hope for the future.

Looking Forward

Looking ForwardAs Peak Education moves forward, the following four initiatives are the focus for the future growth and impact.

1. Growing Peak Education’s Capacity to Serve. Expanding program staff capacity to manage unprecedented growth in scholars served. Number of scholars served has grown by 130% since 2013, while staff level today is unchanged from 2012, with only 2 FTE now serving nearly 250 scholars. Estimated maximum cost per year for the equivalent of 1 additional full-time program/resource development officer for salary.

2. Full STEAM Ahead Academy. Creating sustainable funding stream for community partnership to provide access to intensive 3-week 21st Century experiential learning academy for 30-40 Peak Education middle school scholars each summer. Approximately 140 Peak Education scholars have attended the past five summers.

3. ‘Rite of Passage’ Outdoor Leadership. Creating sustainable tuition scholarship funding pool for Peak Education scholars to attend community-based outdoor leadership programs of their choice. Envisioned culminating experience would be a 7-day “Walkabout” between 10th and 11th grades.

4. College Discovery Tours. Building a funding pool for up to four overnight college tours for Peak Education high school 11th and 12th grade scholars each year.





Throughout the 11 years Peak Education has been a part of my family, I have benefited from opportunities I would never have had such as Outward Bound. I am so grateful to the Kane Family Foundation for removing the financial barrier to college. I will graduate this summer from UCCS with a degree in Engineering and look forward to working at Aeroflex Colorado Springs where I have been an intern for four years. I’ll keep an eye open for opportunities to help others as Peak Education has helped all the Scholars.

Jose Alvarez – 2011 College Graduate

My parents stopped going to school after 8th grade because they had to work. They are so proud of me working hard to go to college.

Solomon – Peak Education Student

I love these kids. It’s such a joy to hear about their passion in being the first in their family to go to college and to see how hard they are working.

Mary Lou – Volunteer

The most important thing to me is being set on the right path and help in getting ready for college. Peak Education keeps me motivated and focused. I will be the first in my family to graduate from college.

Kavada – Peak Education Student

Thank you to Peak Education for supporting me and my family when we first arrived in Colorado Springs. I would have been lost without the encouragement, tutoring and opportunities that Peak Education gave me. Peak Education helped prepare me for UCCS as the recipient of a full-ride scholarship.

Jesse – Peak Education Student

Peak Education helps us get ready for college and keeps us on track. I like that we can ask for help when we need it.

Dominick – Peak Education Student

I’ve never had so many opportunities. I even got to go to The Conservatory!

Marcus – Peak Education Student

Through Peak Education I have learned new things, have met new people and have done things I never thought I would do…like going to the top of Pikes Peak and camping. I like the volunteering experiences and also our visits to the Wolf Rescue Center in Woodland Park.

Porschae – Peak Education Student