“We have a dream that every child in our program will realize their gifts and learn to use them.”
Beginning in 1976 in the Jefferson Park neighborhood of West Denver, New Life in Christ Church, previously serving as an umbrella nonprofit for Zócalo Outreach, has been a haven primarily for low-income minorities. Through meeting felt needs such as food and purposefully building leadership skills into the attendees, the church has seen many dangerous and disenfranchised people become healthy, contributing members of society.
Along the way, they saw the need to stop the cycle of abuse, addiction and poverty early, so they started a day camp for children in 2004. In an attempt to maintain relationships with these same children, the after school educational program started in September 2006. In 2006, Zócalo Outreach was formed as a separate nonprofit to oversee these programs.
The name Zócalo was taken from the Spanish language. The life of a Mexican city often revolves around its central “Zócalo”, where people from all walks of life come together to eat, shop and most importantly, to socialize.
As the Jefferson Park Neighborhood regentrified and attracted more wealthy urban professionals, the focus of Zócalo remained on the poor and disenfranchised, so the organization relocated to an extremely impoverished area of the Denver-Metro area in 2009. This location is off West Colfax on Ammons Street.
The children served by Zócalo face serious problems of delinquency, school failure, drug and alcohol abuse, violence and teen parenting. They live in extreme poverty and are exposed to gangs and violence. Many of the families are headed by single parents. Addiction and abuse are common. They live in rundown apartments, motels, trailer parks and shelters.
The mission of Zócalo Outreach is to improve the quality of life for children who reside in impoverished areas by teaching practical life skills; developing responsible, educated and caring youth. Through a summer Day Camp Zócalo Outreach strives to accomplish the following:
- Provide year round programs for children living in poverty
- Raise up and mentor leaders from the community
- Provide parents with educational resources and support for their children