Drawing on the inspiration and approach from the original El Sistema established in Venezuela over 40 years ago, the founders of El Sistema Colorado envisioned free music programs for low-income students in Denver. At a time when school arts funding is severely limited, El Sistema Colorado is striving to fill the music education needs of three partner schools with Title I designations.
Low-income children are typically denied the benefits of music education as Title I schools increasingly focus limited resources on core curriculum and standardized testing. Deprived of the joy and enrichment that emanates from music programs, low-income children feel less engaged in school and the achievement gap that separates them from their privileged peers only grows.
El Sistema Colorado’s instrumental and choral ensembles provide such joy and enrichment while building students’ musical, social and cognitive skills. Central to our vision is enabling students to participate from early childhood through high school graduation. As our programs grow into full fruition, and our early participants advance through their educational careers, we are cultivating a community to support our young musicians’ academic success, self-confidence, creativity and social-emotional development.
We launched our programs in January 2012 at Garden Place Academy, initially serving over 100 students. In-school, afterschool and summer programs have since expanded to nearby Swansea Elementary and Bruce Randolph Middle & High School. Across all three school sites in Northeast Denver, El Sistema Colorado serves 700 unique students each school year.