Pop Culture Classroom inspires a love of learning, increases literacy, celebrates diversity and builds community through the tools of popular culture and the power of self-expression.
Pop Culture Classroom (PCC) was inspired by the need for innovative literacy education in Colorado. The founders were a group of professional educators, artists, writers, parents, and self-described "nerds" from diverse backgrounds who knew from their own experiences how the science fiction, fantasy, and superhero stories they loved had inspired their own creativity.
They also knew that comics and graphic novels were a pathway to literacy because that's how many of them had learned to read. They set out to create comics-based lessons and workshops that could improve literacy outcomes and ignite the creative spark that lives within each of us. In 2010, they officially launched a new nonprofit based on these goals called Comic Book Classroom.
As big fans of Comic Con-an annual event held in many cities celebrating comics, sci-fi, and fantasy pop culture media-the founders decided to organize Denver Comic Con through their nonprofit. They knew that such an event could unite fans throughout Colorado while generating the funds needed to carry out their mission year-round. Today, the event-now named Denver Pop Culture Con-attracts over 50,000 people to downtown Denver per year.
Proceeds from the Con enabled the expansion of Comic Book Classroom's literacy and arts education in schools throughout metro Denver and beyond. The organization began developing additional programming with the goals of promoting literacy and arts education, introducing youth to diverse voices, encouraging creative self-expression, and building community.
In 2014, the organization was renamed Pop Culture Classroom (PCC), reflecting a broader vision for building on the success of comics-based programs by incorporating other pop culture tools into its work. PCC's mission is to inspire a love of learning, increase literacy, celebrate diversity, and build community through the tools of popular culture and the power of self-expression.
In 2017, the organization moved into a new office featuring an on-site classroom and maker space at the intersection of Denver's Sun Valley and Valverde neighborhoods, two of the city's neighborhoods with the highest minority populations and the lowest income.
Today, PCC provides educational programming to thousands of students per year through a combination of onsite and outreach programs across Colorado and at Denver Pop Culture Con. In 2020, PCC became a member organization of Scientific and Cultural Facilities District Tier II.
*The Original Founders of Comic Book Classroom and Denver Comic Con are Charlie LaGreca, Frank Romero, David Vinson and Kevin Vinson.
"Pop Culture Classroom has created the perfect way to show [parents, students, teachers, and the public] that Comic Books and Graphic Novels are true literary art forms. And the innovative way they have come up with for teaching kids… this program can change everything!" - Middle School Youth Coordinator, Denver Public Schools
"Ultimately, [Pop Culture Classroom's] Denver Pop Culture Con is a forum for geekdom in all its glorious variety. Whether you love comics, cartoons, books, films, monsters, or magic, you're likely to meet others who share your interests and appreciate your knowledge at this once-a-year gala for nerds of all ages." - Patricia Miller, Innovation and Tech Today, June 4, 2019
"I want to be a doctor, no matter what, I will never give up. Storytelling and my experiences with Pop Culture Classroom and ACC will help me tell others about my dream to be a doctor. I can apply for scholarships. I know I will need support to reach my dream, and the better I can tell my story, the more support I can find, I am sure of it. Pop Culture Classroom...helped me to better tell my story" - Shamsul, a refugee from Burma who participated in a comics workshop for high school students.
"Once again, Pop Culture Classroom has added tools to my educational toolbox." -Sherry Simmons, K-8 Speech-Language Pathologist, 2019 ED589 Participant
"This place is so cool! The kids and I had a blast at Family Game Night." - Lynn L. (Facebook, March 22, 2019)
"It's been a wonderful and different approach to teacher professional development. Very inspiring!" -6th Grade Language Arts and Social Sciences Teacher, 2019 ED589 Participant
"An awesome family experience every time!" - Alyx W. (Facebook October 28, 2018)
"In all, I thought that this year was a fantastic educational opportunity as was last year and I look eager to take these new tools, ideas and motivators into the classroom and see what impact I can make on the world."- Geography Teacher, 2019 ED589 Participant