Regis University welcomes more than 175 Denver youth to campus

June 08, 2017

Regis welcomes students entering grades 4 through 12 to its Northwest Denver Campus for the Porter-Billups Leadership Academy on Monday, June 12. More than 175 students will attend the daylong, three-week academic program that targets at-risk and low-income Denver youth.

The Academy prepares students to become leaders among their peers and gain skills for succeeding in college. Students who complete seven years of the Academy and qualify academically are provided scholarships for tuition and fees to attend Regis University.

Since longtime Regis men’s basketball Coach Lonnie Porter founded the Academy in 1996, it has graduated 139 students, at least 100 of whom have gone on to college. Forty-six of those students have graduated from Regis.

Three of those Regis graduates include Alma Vasquez, ’06, a Denver certified public accountant, and Jeremiah Keelan, ’06, Wes Keelan, ’13, brothers who graduated from the Academy eight years apart then received Porter-Billups scholarships to attend Regis. Today, they’re both Denver police officers.

“Forty years ago, I thought I was brought here to win basketball games,” said Porter, who coached basketball at Regis for 38 years, retiring in 2015. “That wasn’t why I was brought here. It was for the Academy.”

Porter, 74, says he’d like to fundraise himself out of a job and hopes to get the Academy fully endowed so he eventually may retire.

“It’s hard to change these kids when they are 18 years old,” said Porter. “We need to start sooner, and that’s what this Academy does. It does this important work of giving children a steady future.”

In 2006, 17-year NBA veteran Chauncey Billups joined Porter and the Academy was renamed. Billups, now an NBA analyst for ESPN, joins Academy students each summer to provide support and motivation. He usually attends the graduation ceremony, which is June 29 at Regis University.

The Academy’s primary fundraising events are coming up in July: an annual dinner on Saturday, July 22, at the Ritz-Carlton in Denver and its annual golf tournament at the Cherry Creek Country Club in Denver on Monday, July 24. To register for either event or to learn more about how you may support the Academy, visit its website, call 303.458.4094 or email


Regis University is a premier, globally engaged institution of higher learning in the Jesuit tradition that prepares leaders to live productive lives of faith, meaning and service. Regis University has four campus locations in the Denver metro area and Colorado Springs. For more information, visit