Education & Youth Programs

DICP’s educational programs provide a rigorous education curriculum, a supportive network of adult mentors, and pro-social activities.

The La Academia Coding Institute provides computer coding and computer science programming to underserved youth in the Denver metro area.  The LACI offers a hybrid curriculum built around Code work’s all-encompassing computer science curriculum and more specific coding curriculum and hands-on projects from The Raspberry Pi Foundation.  We work with partner schools to provide programming during elective or out-of-school time at no cost to the partner school. Coding and computer science skills are a growing necessity for employment, and the LACI prepares young people to pursue coding and computer science after high school.

The La Academia Puentes program is a post-secondary bridge program, run through a volunteer committee, with the goal of increasing the percentage of graduates who have successful collegiate and post-secondary careers. Puentes offers one-on-one mentoring as well as test-preparation and content-area classes to prepare and guide students to an appropriate post-secondary education, including college, trade schools, and professional certification programs. All students are assigned a mentor who is with them through high school graduation and stays with them through their college careers.


Veggie RX

Health and Wellness

Veggie Rx is a program designed to increase education and access around healthy foods for individuals who have been diagnosed with a disease related to obesity, such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, gout, some cancers, gall bladder disease and gall stones, osteoarthritis, breathing problems such as sleep apnea, and asthma.


This 10-person program follows an eight-week curriculum, meeting Thursday mornings, and includes taking field trips to local food providers and vendors to raise awareness and increase knowledge around nutritional options and how to add them for overall healthier living.

DICP concluded the pilot program with ten participants, all senior citizens, in the first eight-week course in April, 2019. The pilot program included a collaboration with the Sociology Department at the University of Colorado Denver, which culminated in the data-driven study and evaluation entitled “Food Security among Clients of the Denver Inner City Parish.” The second class is currently in progress.

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Steve Johnsen Scholarship


La Academia was founded in 1971 and originally went by the name La Academia de la Gente. The school was started by Steve Johnsen as a small program of the Denver Inner City Parish with less than 10 students. Over time La Academia grew, but its innovations and success were always based on its small size, low student to teacher ratio, and strong relationships. The goal of La Academia was, from the start, to be a place where students could find success and build on that success after graduation. In the 1970’s, options after graduation were a bit different than they are today. But one thing remains true: the more education you get after high school, the more options you will have in life.

Thousands of students have attended La Academia over the years. Graduates have continued their education in certificate programs, trade schools, community colleges, and universities. La Academia has supported its students, through the Puentes program, with applications, assistance with filling out financial aid documents, and micro-scholarships for books and fees. Following this long tradition, the Denver Inner City Parish is excited to offer the Steve Johnsen Scholarship. The scholarship is designed to provide substantive and long-term financial support for recipients pursuing post-secondary education. 

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Applications are due Friday, May 21st by 5PM

The Steve Johnsen Scholarship promotes the Denver Inner City Parish’s mission of loving and supporting individuals and families in our community and empowering them to break the cycle of poverty. Post-secondary certificates and degrees provide educational support that leads to better employment. The number and financial amount of the scholarship awards will vary by term. The scholarship money is for the equivalent of one academic term (for example: a single semester or a multi-month certificate program) and winners are encouraged to reapply pending continued enrollment.


Eligibility Details

The scholarship is available to former La Academia students, relatives of former La Academia students, and friends of DICP who are involved in other DICP programs. Applicants must be accepted and enrolled into a post-secondary educational program that offers a credential upon completion; this credential can be a certificate, a licensure, an associate’s degree, or a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Applicants must demonstrate financial need by completing the Free Application for Financial Student Aid (FAFSA) and providing a copy of FAFSA or the Student Aid Report (SAR) to DICP in the application. If you are not sure of eligibility, please contact Marc-Paul Johnsen by phone at 303-629-0636 ext. 223 or at with any questions.

Scholarship Application Requirements - Due Friday, May 21, 2021, by 5pm MST

1. A completed application form emailed to

2. Either a two-minute video or a 500-word essay on your current goals, adversities you are currently facing in obtaining those goals, and how your specific educational plan will help you to achieve your goals.

3. Copy of your completed FAFSA or a copy of your SAR.

4. A simple budget outlining your educational costs (tuition, fees, books, living expenses) and how you will use the scholarship if it is granted to you. Please use the attached form for guidance.

5. Proof of admission and registration. The scholarship may be used for any of your educational costs.

6. Name and contact information (email and phone number) of a personal reference.


**If you need help applying for the scholarship, DICP can schedule a one-on-one meeting to assist you in completing the application and gathering the necessary documents.  Contact Marc-Paul to arrange an appointment.


Selection Process

Once Denver Inner City Parish receives your completed application, the scholarship committee will review all applications, in-person or zoom meetings will be held with finalists, and winners will be contacted based on information provided on the scholarship application.


Expectations of Awarded Students

Once a winner has been chosen and notified, the winner will:

-Sign an acceptance letter that lists guidelines

-Sign a photo/narrative waiver for DICP distribution

-Create a plan for how funds will be distributed (directly to school, other)

-Be assigned a mentor and set up a check-in schedule. Winners must meet with a mentor on a

schedule established by both people, no less than 2 times per semester (or 4  month period).

-Plan to attend a DICP event or board meeting once per academic year.


FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Is there a GPA requirement? A. No

Q. I am in high school. Can I apply?  A. Yes, you can apply in the last semester of your senior year of high school for funds to be used for post-secondary educational costs in a program you are starting after graduation.

Q. Can I reapply for subsequent terms? A. Yes

Q. When does the scholarship award money have to be used? A. It must be used for the term for which you are applying.  If, for whatever reason, you are unable to use awarded money for that term, you forfeit the money for that term but are encouraged to apply again once you are ready to return to school.

**Post-secondary is any education you pursue after graduating high school or earning your GED.