Justin Darnell, Founder and Director

Justin founded Launch to close the opportunity gap for 3rd-5th grade students.  By scaling down to the size of a classroom and shifting authority to students, families and master educators, stronger relationships can be formed and leveraged to best serve everyone closest to students. Before creating Launch, Justin helped create and implement the Teacher Leadership and Collaboration strategy in Denver Public Schools. Justin also helped build out a Professional Development system aligned with a new teacher growth and performance system. Justin spent 6 years as a science teacher at Bryant Webster ECE-8 and was selected as the 2010 Colorado Teacher of the Year.  He was incredibly humbled and fortunate to have shaken hands with President Obama. 

Sarah Rauenhorst, Lead Partner for Launch@Stedman

Sarah is a lifelong educator dedicated to closing Denver’s opportunity gap by ensuring all students have the opportunity to discover, cultivate, and follow their passions. After serving as an educator in Denver Public Schools for 6 years, Sarah joined Launch because its small and nimble approach gives students opportunities to discover their passions and niches and provides space and time to engage families and communities in a meaningful and holistic way. “Throughout my years of learning and teaching, I have seen the power of being exposed to a variety of experiences that allowed myself and my students to identify what we are passionate about and foster that passion through unique learning experiences. Instead of educating students with a one-size fits all school experience, I am dedicated to finding a way for students to customize their education, especially students who deserve better than what has been given to them.”

Sade' Cooper, Lead Partner for Social Emotional Learning and Positive Identity Development

Sade’ Cooper is a native to Denver Colorado. She is the founder and Executive Director of C.H.I.C. (Collaborative Healing Initiative within Communities). C.H.I.C was created to help tackle the disparities and economic shortcomings that directly affect families, communities and members of local gangs. C.H.I.C. works directly with females between the ages of 10-25 who are from low to middle-income communities imbued with violence, substandard living conditions, and inequitable educational systems. Sade’s commitment to her community has led her to volunteer opportunities and community leadership roles including Project Voyce, Second Chance Home Ministries, and Goodwill’s Summer Bridge Mentor Program. 

Dane Washington, Lead Partner for Social Emotional Learning and Positive Identity Development

As a native of Colorado, Dane has a passion for the arts and media and does the work because believes that education, equity, and equality are key in today's society. Dane has a passion for the work as the father of four sons, two that are currently scholars in DPS, as a product of Denver Public Schools, and a current community partner investing into the lives of scholars at Wyatt Academy in Northeast Denver. Dane is a volunteer football coach (10 years) for the Pirates Youth Football Organization and leads as the Executive Director of Kids Above Everything (KAE), an outreach effort to lift the lives of students in NE Denver, and as Lead Designer/Founder of High Above Everything, a graphic design and media arts company. "Remembering my own challenges throughout my teenage and young adult years moved me to become someone that can serve as a mentor to kids and show them how to make positive choices and decisions in their lives. I feel it is my job to motivate and show our youth how to obtain success despite statistical information that would lead them to believe otherwise."

Katherine Casey, Lead Partner for Strategy and Development

Katherine is an independent consultant with specialties in innovation, personalized and competency-based design, and research and development. Most recently, she was a Co-Founder and Director of the Imaginarium Innovation Lab in Denver Public Schools. Katherine was also a founding design team member at the Denver school of Innovation and Sustainable Design (DSISD), a competency-based public high school. Prior to her work in DPS, Katherine worked in education nonprofits across the country, and received her Doctorate in Education Leadership focused on the intersection of innovative school design and advocacy for school integration. 

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