L.C. Fulenwider, Inc. to donate 10 acres of land worth $3M for STEAD school
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Cal Fulenwider, III, Chairman and CEO of L.C. Fulenwider, Inc. announced Tuesday a major donation of 10 acres of land, valued at an estimated $3 million for a 27J public charter, science-based high school, focused on next-generation agriculture.
The school is slated to open in Commerce City in the fall of 2021, with 165 ninth graders and will support an estimated 660 students at full build-out, growing a grade per year.
With an anticipated groundbreaking in late summer/early fall 2020, the STEAD School (Science, Technology, Environment, Agriculture, and Design) will be one of only a few schools of its kind, offering project-based learning and career and technical education to support the changing realities of modern agriculture. The curriculum is designed to attract and educate students with an interest in a broad range of career pathways in the animal, plant, environmental, and food sciences arenas, representing thousands of career possibilities for future leaders in business, policy, science, energy, and health.
“This concept is long overdue,” Fulenwider said. “Agriculture is a $41 billion dollar industry for Colorado, employing more than 170,000 people across the state. The agriculture industry remains one of the largest contributors to the state’s economy and we need to educate students to ensure sustainability for generations to come.”
Agriculture runs deep in the Fulenwider family. In the early 1900s, L.C. Fulenwider, Sr. staked his claim in real estate when he moved to Colorado from Missouri. Fulenwider Sr. helped write Colorado Real Estate Licence Laws and his grandson Cal continues to hold Colorado Real Estate License No. 1.
“He was a true pioneer — a farm and ranchman through and through,” Cal said. “He was one of the first brokers to combine farms and ranches through real estate deals.” Those deals are how the Fulenwiders came to own a large portion of the property that is now Denver International Airport, which was incorporated in 1938. “Our family’s philosophy has always been to use our land to create something the community can be proud of. Our enthusiasm for the STEAD School is absolute.”
STEAD is a science-based, personalized learning experience for students using a hands-on project-based learning platform open to all high school students from School District 27J, as well as students outside the district based on availability and open-enrollment policies. The school will integrate business entrepreneurship development into the curriculum, to be aligned with post-secondary institutions like Colorado State University and Colorado’s community college system. This integration offers students the opportunity to earn college credits while enrolled in high school.
The dynamic nature of the school builds upon nearly two decades of community-centered work that Oakwood Homes has invested in under the leadership of founder, Pat Hamill, president and CEO of Oakwood Homes LLC, along with its BuildStrong Foundation, also founded by Hamill. “Agriculture affects all of us every hour, every day,” said Hamill. “We need a committed and educated population of leaders who understand how to care for the land and make it sustainable for generations to come.”
The STEAD mission is to transform the educational experience from a listen-and-learn to an experience-and-do. “STEAD will allow students to follow their passions, dig deeper, ask more, debate with confidence and push boundaries as they apply their hands-on learning to tangible issues locally and globally,” said Amy Schwartz, director BuildStrong Foundation and co founder of the school. “The campus will spark ideas, encourage meaningful debate and broad thinking.”
The curriculum combines science, technology, engineering and math with the important elements of the environment, agriculture, and systems-design thinking that are each necessary in the environmentally conscience world students are concerned with today. Although STEM schools are emerging nationwide creating an amazing transformation for the K-12 educational system, the STEAD approach creates a learning environment engaging and empowering students who will own their paths from the first day they walk onto STEAD’s campus.
Kelly Leid of Oakwood Homes, former director of operations for Denver Public Schools, served Oakwood Homes as director of the company’s education initiatives. He began exploring the concept behind STEAD during his next role, leading the redevelopment of the National Western Complex. He returned to Oakwood to work on the Reunion development and brought the educational component with him. “Not only is STEAD one of the first of its kind, it’s a fresh approach to education that encourages students to experience and steer the impact of their learning right out of the gate,” said Leid. “The campus will look and feel like an active farm including crops and animals, with the addition of a high-tech, high-touch learning environment that promotes innovation, exploration and collaboration.
Brad Buchanan, CEO of the National Western Center, the ag-focused organization charged with redevelopment of the longtime National Western Stock Show site notes, “The creation of the STEAD School is exactly what the 2015 master plan envisioned. It will be located just a few miles away. We share the same mission. It’s an ideal situation.”
STEAD will invite students from all walks of life, not just those whose learning styles are analytical in nature, to interact and engage. “We’ll have students who aren’t engineering or math-focused but still want to engage in this type of learning,” noted Leid. “We want to produce students who are problem solvers and creative thinkers who can collectively anticipate and solve problems in the world which have not even begun to emerge.”
Cal Fulenwider knew the location for the STEAD school would be an ideal reflection and a testament to his grandfather’s experience in farming and ranching. “More than a century ago, my ancestors invested in and were devoted to the land, while creating a livable city. They dedicated their lives to this area in particular,” said Fulenwider. “We are proud to support a learning environment that will focus on creating a better world that will include agricultural and environmental learning. We look forward to working closely with Oakwood Homes to make the STEAD School a reality.” “Cal and his family are keenly aware of the responsibility that comes with heritage. Their generosity sets the stage for the next generation. This unwavering stewardship is, and always will be, the Fulenwider legacy,” said Hamill.
Located at 106th and Walden Street, STEAD will be part of the developed Northeast Quadrant around DIA within the Reunion master-planned development. The 2,500-acre area, originally developed by Shea Homes, is anchored by the Buffalo Run Golf Course; Pe ñ a Station North, a 270-acre business park, and most currently, Peña Station NEXT, a mixed-use transit-oriented development near DIA that is anchored by Panasonic City Now.