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. This high-performing charter network focuses on college the second a child walks through its doors. With elements of college culture incorporated into each classroom, a rigorous academic program for all children and college campus visits each year, every U Prep scholar is on the path to a four-year college degree and a life of opportunity.

U Prep's first campus, University Prep —Arapahoe Street, currently serves 350 scholars in grades K-5. Its second campus, University Prep — Steele Street, opened in August of 2016 and is projected to serve 350 scholars in grades K – 5 this fall (2019). Opening with 226 children, that represents a 55% increase in enrollment 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 nearly 40% English Language Learners. Across all U Prep classrooms there is a focus on joy, pride and academic rigor. Within warm, focused and consistent learning environments, the schools strive to ensure 100% of children are meaningfully engaged in challenging, grade-level content that truly prepares them for access and opportunity.

Once a child enrolls at U Prep, the schools engage in a series of touchpoints that ensures they're enrolling the whole family. From small group orientation meetings to home visits for every family to a new family welcoming BBQ, the schools work intentionally to develop a deep partnership with every family, recognizing the two-way relationship between school and home is crucial to each scholars' success.

University Prep operates with urgency, believing that loving their 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 themselves, carrying deep pride in who they are and what they're capable of along with an unbreakable foundational education, they will have access. Some highlights of scholar achievements over the last several years of operations are shared below:

  • In the 2015-16 school year there were four elementary schools rated as "distinguished" (highest performing) on the Denver's School Performance Framework. 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 that launched in August of 2016 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 school performance framework 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. 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 students. As the leader of the staff supporting not only the daily infrastructure at the schools and the network office but also the future growth of U Prep's schools, the COO must have the ability to remain nimble and flexible while prioritizing their various work streams.

Specific responsibilities include:

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

Strategic Planning and Execution:

  • Collaborate with senior management to refine U Prep's current strategic plan; the plan currently includes opening two new schools over the next 12-48 months, which when fully occupied will double the size of the network
  • Lead project management and execution for operational aspects of the strategic plan

Systems Development and Management:

  • Identify, develop and implement operational systems improvements that will support highly efficient and effective performance as U Prep continues to grow in size and complexity
  • Oversee the creation and management of standardized documentation and turnover procedures for all core non-academic functions within the organization
Candidate Requirements:

The successful candidate will possess the following skills and attributes:


  • Five or more years of progressively increasing operational 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
  • Entrepreneurial spirit and proactive, continually looking for ways to avert problems and improve systems
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.