DENVER-- Some were born to teenage mothers and became victims of abuse. Others face poverty and other disadvantages.
More than 65,000 students in Denver are considered to be at-risk, born into difficult circumstances.
Many are determined to succeed by putting their troubles aside and working to help those in need in another country as part of the Colorado Uplift program.
The students have raised about 22 percent of their $50,000 goal to fund a trip to Tijuana, Mexico, where they will build much-needed homes.
The trip is slated for April so they are working hard to garner community support. A crowdfunding page has been set up to help the group.
The organization’s goal is to help students who were dealt a tough hand in life take charge and change the game.
One student, Shafeeq, said his mother brought him into the world at a young age and although things were tough, he follows her example of strength and is determined to make it in the world.
His dream is to work in marketing one day or own his own business.
Shafeeq said he looks forward to helping those who face even greater challenges.
“My first time going out of the country … doing something I never thought I'd be doing (will be) going to help somebody less fortunate than myself," he said.
Colorado Uplift helps break the cycle of poverty by providing leadership, business and financial training in programs that can help students earn college credits.
Organizing an international trip and building homes for those who are struggling provides first-hand experience in a range of areas, while building confidence and cultivating compassion.
Clara, 16, says when she was young, her family couldn’t afford to keep the lights on in their home.
She struggled then, but after participating in Colorado Uplift, she now maintains a 4.3 grade-point average, hopes to attend Stanford University and become a doctor one day.
She says there’s no need to wait to give back.
“You're never too young to change the world," she said.