CO - Denver metropolitan area
About the Organization

University Preparatory Schools ("U Prep") are tuition-free public charter elementary schools currently operating within Denver Public Schools. Every family has a dream for their child, and at U Prep the team works hand in hand with families to ensure those dreams come true. The network's two K-5 schools in Northeast Denver have a clear mission - prepare every child for a four-year college degree and a life of opportunity.

U Prep's first campus, which opened in 2011 as a fresh start, University Prep —Arapahoe Street, currently serves 330 scholars in grades K-5. Its second campus, University Prep — Steele Street, which opened in August of 2016 as a full school turnaround, also serves 330 scholars. Starting with 226 children in its founding year, Steele Street's enrollment growth represents a 46% increase since launching. The student composition across U Prep's campuses is currently 85% Free and Reduced Lunch, more than 90% students of color, more than 10% students with special needs, and more than 30% English Language Learners.

U Prep is all about helping each child develop into the best version of themself. The schools support scholars in building college-ready academic skills, a strong sense of character, and a powerful vision for their future. That combined with a genuine partnership between school and home means opportunities for U Prep scholars are limitless.

Academics - Academic excellence for every child sits at the center for the organization. U Prep offers all scholars challenging, college prep content, along with the support and encouragement necessary to master it. They believe every child will achieve greatness when they are equally challenged, supported and loved.

Character - A focus on growing good students and good people is at the heart of the networks' mission. U Prep knows that to succeed in life, scholars must have a strong and confident character. U Prep schools go beyond a foundation of academic skills and knowledge with the development of PREP values - Pride, Responsibility, Enthusiasm, and Perseverance.

Vision - You can only dream as far as you can see – U Prep makes sure all of its scholars see what's truly possible. All children deserve the opportunity to see the opportunities that live outside of their classrooms. Within the network's K - 5 experience, scholars get to see a range of colleges and careers that will become their reality.

University Prep operates with urgency, believing that loving children and families means setting and achieving a high bar for EVERY scholar. The organization embraces the critical reality that a foundation of character and academic success at the elementary level is absolutely essential for future opportunity. When a child leaves their elementary career as the best version of themself, carrying deep pride in who they are and what they're capable of along with an unbreakable foundational education, they will have access to meaningful opportunities. Some highlights of scholar achievements over the last several years are shared below:

  • In the 2015-16 school year there were four elementary schools rated as "distinguished" (highest performing) on Denver's School Performance Framework (report card). While the average Free and Reduced Lunch percentage of the other three schools was 13%, University Prep - Arapahoe St. earned the same rating serving more than 80% of children living in poverty.
  • In the 2016-17 school year, University Prep - Steele St., a full school turnaround restarting all grade levels, K - 5, had the highest growth in mathematics across 1,500 schools in the state and the eighth highest growth in English Language Arts (ELA). U Prep's transformation of the school propelled it from being the lowest performing school on the district's report card to ranking in the 91st percentile against nearly 200 schools across the city.
  • In 2017-18, scholars in 5th grade at University Prep - Arapahoe St. dramatically outperformed the state's average proficiency rates in ELA and Math. 65.5% of University Prep scholars met or exceeded expectations in ELA compared with 47.4% in Colorado and 58.2% of University Prep scholars met or exceeded expectations in Math compared with 35.5% across the state.

Looking forward, U Prep intends to expand its network of elementary schools thoughtfully as growth opportunities present themselves in and around the Denver region. The network recently completed strategic planning for two additional U Prep campuses over the next five years. For more information on this outstanding network of schools, please visit its website:

About the Position

As a member of the executive team and reporting directly to the Founding Executive Director ("ED"), the Chief Operating Officer ("COO") will play a key role in leading and supporting the organization's capacity development and strategic growth plan. In addition to being a vital thought partner to the ED, Board, and other members of the leadership team, the COO will oversee the high-performing teams and external partners responsible for Finance and Accounting, Talent and Human Resources, External Affairs, School-based Operations, Information Technology, and Legal Services.

The COO must possess a strong and palpable commitment to the mission and values of U Prep. This is a new leadership position for U Prep, and a spirit of entrepreneurship along with a "service" approach to all stakeholders (including instructional and non-instructional staff, students, parents, and Board members) will be critical to success.

As a small but growth-oriented charter management organization, U Prep seeks someone who reflects its culture, and who believes "no job is too big or too small" to support the success of all children. As the leader of the staff supporting the daily infrastructure at the schools and the network office and making future growth possible for U Prep, the COO must have the ability to remain nimble and flexible while prioritizing their various work streams.

Specific responsibilities include:

Strategic Planning and Execution:

  • Collaborate with U Prep's Executive Director and other senior management to implement U Prep's recently approved strategic plan (August 2019 U Prep Board Approved); the plan currently includes opening two new schools by the 2023-24 school year, with the next school opening within 24 months. When both new campuses are fully occupied the size of U Prep's network will double.
  • Lead the development, communication and implementation of effective growth strategies and processes
  • Drive U Prep schools to achieve and surpass recruitment, enrollment and operational goals while planning for future growth
  • Identify and implement systems and processes to ensure efficiency and effectiveness as U Prep grows in scale and complexity
  • Assess the efficacy of all processes internal and external. Provide timely, accurate reports on the network's operating condition to the Board and senior management.
  • Serve as an external facing communicator and representative of network with political constituents, community organizations school district staff and board members, charter authorizers
  • Attend meetings and events with external stakeholders to represent U Prep
  • In partnership with the Executive Director, support board governance by planning and preparing board materials, participating in meetings, serving on board committees as needed, and communicating regularly with board members

Team Leadership and Performance Management:

  • Oversee day-to-day management of non-instructional departments including Finance and Accounting (financial reporting and analysis, payroll, budgeting, compliance, procurement, asset management), Talent and Human Resources (talent acquisition, development and retention, policies/procedures, HR compliance, benefits, risk management), External Affairs (dotted line oversight of fundraising, communications, marketing, policy and advocacy work, local politics and strategy; ED will maintain oversight of some of this work as well)
  • Support the management and success of School-based Operations and School-based Deans of Operations (day to day school-based operations that directly support children, families and staff, facilities, construction and renovation, safety, supplies, food services, transportation), Information Technology (systems and networks, data platforms), and Legal Services through coaching, professional development, resource sharing and in close partnership with Principals
  • Provide outstanding management and coaching to a high-performing team of three direct reports and three dotted line reports; design and implement targeted professional development for non-instructional staff; recruit, hire, train, manage and develop future operations staff as needed
  • Monitor all external vendor relationships; oversee tracking of U Prep's physical assets; serve as a liaison to all outside consultants and professional services staff
Candidate Requirements:

The successful candidate will possess the following skills and attributes:


  • Five or more years of progressively increasing leadership experience for a growing, multi-site organization
  • Experience leading, planning and managing in an entrepreneurial, client-service-oriented setting; excellent talent management, communications, and interpersonal skills
  • Demonstrable track record of developing, implementing, and managing business systems and processes to support a growing multi-million-dollar organization, including significant experience with at least several of the following functional areas: finance, human resources, external affairs, site-based operations, information technology, and legal services
  • Ability to negotiate and execute contracts, and manage the quality of service providers and vendors, including but not limited to: auditors, HR operations partners, IT and other administrative / facilities functions
  • Ability to exercise excellent judgment in decision-making, soliciting and leveraging stakeholder input when appropriate, and using available data to drive decision-making

Personal Values and Leadership/Management Style:

  • Unquestionable integrity and commitment to U Prep's mission and community, and commitment to the belief that outstanding schools will enable all students to achieve excellent life outcomes
  • Extremely high expectations for staff, students, parents, donors, and Board members in a supportive, assets-based manner
  • Ability to serve as a role model for colleagues, students, staff, and parents
  • Trustworthiness in dealing with confidential matters
  • Ability to multi-task and thrive managing concurrent projects under tight deadlines
  • Player-coach mentality and ability to work both collaboratively and independently
  • Proactive, continually looking for ways to avert problems and improve systems with an entrepreneurial spirit


Compensation and benefits:

Salary and benefits will be competitive and commensurate with experience.

U Prep is committed to hiring teachers and leaders who share the diverse backgrounds of the students they serve.

On-Ramps is deeply committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We believe social change happens when people with a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, and identities come together with common purpose. We're partnering with the team at University Prep to build a diverse team that demonstrates this commitment. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply.