$100,000 grant from BCS Family Foundation ensures more high-impact summers ahead for Porter-Billups Leadership Academy

If you’ve been on Regis’ Northwest Denver campus recently, you’ve surely noticed something special on the quad: Every morning, dozens of young people gather in front of Dayton Memorial Library to greet one another, play games, and prepare for a day of learning and connecting. For three weeks every summer, Regis has the privilege of hosting the Porter-Billups Leadership Academy, which brings hundreds of students to our campus for an experience that, for many, is nothing short of life-changing.

Started with just 22 students in 1996, PBLA now serves over 200 students in grades four through twelve every year. At no cost to their families, students in the summer Academy receive transportation, meals, and six hours of academic instruction each day for three weeks. Additionally, during the school year, PBLA teachers collaborate with high school students, their parents, and school counselors to monitor and encourage academic progress.

To date, 99.5% of students who complete the PBLA program graduate from high school. Although these students can apply to any college, Regis provides full tuition to Porter Scholars of limited means who participate in PBLA for seven consecutive years and demonstrate financial need. So far, 20 Porter-Billups Scholars have enrolled at Regis for the upcoming fall semester.

PBLA was founded in 1996 by Lonnie Porter, then the head coach of the Regis Men’s basketball team. In 2006, he was joined by Denver native Chauncey Billups, a former NBA all-star who now serves as head coach of the Portland Trailblazers and who, later this year, will be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Chauncey also serves on the Regis’ Board of Trustees.

Along with the dedicated PBLA staff and volunteers, Coach Porter and Chauncey create a nurturing community aimed at fostering a bright future for a diverse array of underserved youth. PBLA is a successful model of academic and leadership development, which is why it has drawn the ongoing support of hundreds over donors over the years.

Most recently, PBLA received a $100,000 grant from BCS Family Foundation which is dedicated to enriching lives through programs that provide opportunities for those in need. Based in Denver, the Foundation supports advances in education, health, and nutrition, and efforts to combat human trafficking and drug and alcohol addiction. The Foundation is led by William and Cheri Schoolcraft, who first got involved with PBLA following a visit to the summer program, at Chauncey’s invitation. The family was very impressed with the program and have since generously donated a total of $225,000 to support its ongoing work.

“BCS Family Foundation is proud to support PBLA and its 29-year mission to provide academic and leadership training to Denver’s low-income and at-risk youth,” says Cheri Schoolcraft, who serves as President of BCS Family Foundation. “We especially like the multi-year participation requirement and view this long-term commitment to the students as a key to success. We look forward to continuing to support PBLA.”

Regis is incredibly grateful to William and Cheri Schoolcraft and the entire BCS Family Foundation for their generous support of PBLA, which we are committed to building as a self-sustaining program. Contributions from annual donors, foundations, corporations and endowments will ensure Coach Porter and his team can continue their high-impact programming.

We at Regis are immensely proud of and honored to support PBLA. We are also honored to celebrate the enduring legacy of Coach Porter, who has devoted his life to guiding young people and is a role model and an inspiring leader to us all. At next month’s PBLA Gala, Coach Porter will officially hand the title of Executive Director of PBLA to Ricardo Patton, a longtime supporter of the program who has more than 30 years of experience working with young leaders. Though he will still remain deeply involved with PBLA, Coach Porter is expanding PBLA’s circle of leadership to keep moving towards the bright future the program exists to create.

Thank you, Coach Porter and Chauncey, for all that you do for the youth of our community – and many thanks to the many generous donors to PBLA, including BCS Family Foundation, who make it all possible.