The mission of New Legacy Charter High School is to offer young parents a rigorous, relevant, and engaging education so they are empowered with the skills needed to raise healthy children and graduate prepared for success in college and careers.
New Legacy Charter School (NLCS) is the only high school focused exclusively on serving teen mothers and fathers and their children in the east Denver metro area. Now in its fourth year, the organization was founded due to the disparity of higher teen pregnancy levels in Aurora, and an obvious lack of services in that area. The teen birth rate in northwest Aurora is approximately 50% higher than the state average; there were 265 births in 2015 alone to teen parents in the four primary ZIP codes that NLCS serves. For pregnant/parenting teens in Aurora, already facing significant attendance barriers by virtue of having a child (and often lacking their own transportation), NLCS is often the only safety net before dropping out.
For more than a decade, founder (and former executive director) Jennifer Douglas had visualized the possibility a teen parenting-focused school on the east side of Denver. After finding a convincing need through hard data and broad anecdotal support, she founded the 501(c)(3) and applied for charter status in 2013. Finding a suitable facility proved to be a challenge but NLCS found a key partner in the Urban Land Conservancy (ULC), which purchased a property near Montview and Dayton in northwest Aurora that is now the school's home. Construction began in early 2015, and the school opened its doors in time for the 2015-16 school year. NLCS graduated its first three classes in Spring 2016, 2017, and 2018, boasting 75%, 83% and 78% graduation rates, respectively (double the average for teen mothers). After establishing a strong foundation in the first three years of the school, Jennifer Douglas stepped down from the role of executive director in June 2018. NLCS began its fourth year of operations under the leadership of the new executive director, Steven Bartholomew.
NLCS is unique among charter and/or alternative high schools, in that it is a two-pronged multi-generational program that serves teen parents and their children, that it offers a college preparatory curriculum, and that it includes fathers. There is significant research behind this approach: Multi-generational programs reflect strong data that shows the well-being of parents is a crucial ingredient in children's social-emotional, physical and economic well-being. Children of teen parents are more likely to struggle in school, to be incarcerated and to become teen parents themselves. Additionally, these children typically have poorer math and reading scores, communication and social skills, and physical and emotional well-being than children whose mothers gave birth at ages 20 and older. It is also within early childhood that society has the greatest opportunity to make an impact; the ROI for early learning initiatives is estimated at $8.60 for every $1 spent. A college preparatory curriculum for the parents is also key to success; adults with bachelor's degrees earn on average $450 more per week than those with only high school diplomas. Yet only 2% of women who have a child as a teen earn a college degree by age 30. More than one in three single mothers/their children live in poverty, and NLCS intentionally focuses on giving teens college prep/postsecondary education skills-beyond just a school diploma or GED-to help end this cycle of poverty for these teenagers and their young children. In addition, teen fathers are often invisible and misunderstood, considered absent because of societal duty to work and provide for the family, yet the benefits of active fatherhood are momentous. A large body of research shows that father attachment can be just as critical as mother attachment for healthy child development. Early father involvement in their child's schooling is linked to later father involvement, which greatly increases student achievement.
It's easier to get attention from the teachers and I have met a lot of people here who are like me. -Samantha
Now I can go to school without worrying about and stressing about who will watch my baby while I am at school. -Iris
They gave me this great opportunity to get my education and finish school. They also make me want to be a better mom. -Shapri
It has helped me to go on with my education and it has also given me the opportunity to continue my dreams. -Julissa
I get a second opportunity to get on track with my grades to be able to graduate on time and have someone who can watch over my child. -Bianca
They gave me an opportunity to finish high school. New Legacy believed in me when no one else would. They made me grow as a person and as a mother too. -Stefanni
It has helped me get closer to graduating and helped take care of my child while I learn. The daycare teachers at New Legacy have also helped my daughter learn, handle and express her feelings, and grow. They believed in me when no one else would. --Nawal