Pop Culture Classroom was inspired by the need for innovative literacy education in Colorado. The first volunteers were a group of professional educators, artists, writers, parents, and self-described “geeks” from diverse backgrounds who knew from their own experiences how the science fiction, fantasy, and superhero stories they loved had inspired their 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. With this motivation, these volunteers 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 (CBC).
A Pop Culture Community
As big fans of Comic Con—annual events held in many cities celebrating comics, sci-fi, and fantasy pop culture media—the volunteers decided to organize a convention that would provide exciting content for all ages, showcase CBC’s year-round educational endeavors, and encouraged community across Colorado in a “comic con” setting.
In 2011, the first Denver Comic Con was held and over time the convention grew, welcoming thousands of people to downtown Denver per year.
Proceeds from the show 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.
Likewise, in 2018, the name Denver Comic Con was changed to Denver Pop Culture Con to better reflect its inclusion of all forms of pop culture media.
Finally, in 2021, Pop Culture Classroom formed a collaboration with FAN EXPO HQ to bring FAN EXPO Denver to the community. Though this shift brought the end of Denver Pop Culture Con, it opens new and exciting opportunities for our community and educational goals. Pop Culture Classroom continues its collaboration with FAN EXPO Denver as FAN EXPO Denver’s featured charity and offers engaging, educational content for fans of all ages at the event. The transition also allows PCC to primarily focus its resources on doing more in classrooms and communities to spark literacy, learning, imagination, and inclusive communities through pop culture.
Our Mission in Action
Today, the driving power behind Pop Culture Classroom continues to be our passion to celebrate and promote the positive influence of comics and other pop culture media.
We develop innovative tools for children to increase their literary skills using age-appropriate comic books and graphic novels, and encourage critical-thinking through costume design, game development, and other related pop culture media. We envision individuals transformed by the educational power of popular culture who create diverse, inclusive, and engaged communities. And we believe that literacy, creativity, and creative thinking are essential abilities for our children as they prepare to navigate both the successes and challenges of life.