Downtown Ventures partners with Hillside Connection to connect youth with Downtown business community
by Katy Houston
Fifteen middle school students from Southern Colorado Springs recently experienced a Hillside Connection Spring Break business immersion camp, a pilot program created in a partnership between Hillside Connection and Downtown Ventures, the charitable nonprofit arm of Downtown Partnership. Students were paired with local business leaders to learn about potential career paths, entrepreneurship, creativity, and more.
“You become what you see, who you affiliate yourself with. Exposing underserved youth to the business community helps to give them an equal platform to learn about various industries, develop skill sets needed for future internships and job opportunities, and build relationships with a diverse network of local leaders,” said Terrell Brown, Hillside Connection CEO & President. “I would encourage all business leaders (public, private and nonprofit sectors) to learn more about what Hillside Connection represents and how we can continue to collaborate to uplift the next generation.”
Investing in future leaders
A strategic goal of the Hillside Connection Spring Break pilot program was to increase the probability for children in southeast Colorado Springs to be able to break through systemic challenges to success. During the spring break camp, students met at Downtown Partnership member businesses to explore a diversity of economic sectors including finance, development, and creative careers.
Men’s Xchange, James Proby, Business Etiquette and Professional Dress
ANB Bank, Personal Finance
U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum Tour
GE Johnson, “Construct Your Future,” surveying the world of construction and development
Epiphany, Exploring the Culinary Arts, Chef Ben Gallegos Pardo
Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, theater workshop with Nathan Halvorson
A promising partnership
The collaboration between Downtown Ventures and Hillside Connection supports multiple goals, explains Michelle Winchell, executive director of Downtown Ventures. “We want to establish stronger ties with our adjacent neighborhoods and we also want to proactively ensure we are welcoming all people to our Downtown. This is a great way to connect young people in our community to the wealth of interesting, talented, and community-supporting businesspeople in our city center — from chefs and artists to small business owners, the tech sector and more.”
Hillside Connection was founded by Brown in 2017 with a mission to leverage the game of basketball to create pathways to opportunity for youth in Southern Colorado Springs. The nonprofit provides youth with opportunities that extend beyond the basketball court through enrichment activities, community engagement, and academic/family support services.
To date, the organization does not have full-time staff, and is led by community volunteers who serve as coaches and mentors. Since 2017, more than 450 youth have participated in Hillside Connection’s programming, most of whom come from single-parent and/or low-income households.
How you can help
With the launch of a successful pilot, Brown hopes to expand into summer programming but relies on sponsorships from the local community. See a list of current community supporters here.
Learn more about Hillside Connection here.
In addition to the businesses mentioned above that invested time and resources, we want to thank the following partners for their support:
Hillside Connection Program Coordinator: Jaylean Franck
El Pomar Foundation Extern: Adelita Aguirre
Hillside Connection coaches: Andre Breeding & Geoff Kelly
Hillside Connection High School Ambassadors: Dorian Rico & Layne Fabrizi
Hillside Connection Interns (Sachs Foundation Elevated Program): Godwin Innis & Alexis Ellison
Gray Line Tours