Homeless

Poverty-Fighting CrossPurpose Opens Second Location in Englewood

Students and staff cut the ribbon at the CrossPurpose opening.
Students and staff cut the ribbon at the CrossPurpose opening. Westword
CrossPurpose, a nonprofit organization that helps people get on productive career paths, just opened a location in Englewood and plans to add additional spots in Aurora and north Denver.

CrossPurpose got its start in 2008 when co-founder Jason Janz and others recognized the need for programming that would help people exit poverty — and maybe even avoid it altogether. Today CrossPurpose offers free career training in over fifteen tracks in the medical, culinary, trade, peer specialist and administrative fields. It has seen 616 graduates so far and hopes to increase that to 2,025 by the end of 2025.

In 2020, CrossPurpose finalized a plan to expand from its original location, at 3050 Richard Allen Court, to three more. The organization connected with the nearby Wellspring Church, which bought a building at 3855 South Broadway in Englewood that it's leasing to CrossPurpose for free for ten years. The new location was dedicated on September 15.

"Today is a celebration of a community coming together, solving its own problems," Janz said at the ribbon cutting.
click to enlarge
Leticia Tanguma, a graduate of CrossPurpose, painted the mural inside the new building.
Westword
The City of Englewood donated around $350,000 to the renovation. "When I joined city council in 2019, we’d been talking a lot about homelessness and poverty and what programs we can put in place," says Joe Anderson, the Englewood City Council representative for the area.  "How can the government best be involved in serving the communities in our city?"

In October 2020, The University of Denver released the Tri-Cities Chronic Homelessness Assessments Results Report, which provided insights into the causes of homelessness and its implications for Englewood, Littleton and Sheridan. Of the 121 individuals assessed, 51 percent said they became homeless because of the loss of a job and other major factors, including the inability to pay rent and a change in employment status. The towns joined together and adopted the Tri-City Homeless Action Plan.

Englewood saw CrossPurpose as a good fit, since it offers resources that not only help people get mid-level jobs, but training on conflict resolution in the workplace so that they can keep those jobs. "One of the things the plan also identified is poverty alleviation to prevent homelessness, so this fit right into that action plan," Anderson says.

With the new facility added to its original spot, CrossPurpose should be able to serve more than 400 students a year. The newest class will graduate in March 2023.

Twenty-year-old Janessa Abeyta is a member of the class. She was working at spots like McDonald's and King Soopers and had to drop out of the Community College of Denver because it was too expensive. "I was like, I'm not going anywhere with these jobs," she recalls. In August, she started CrossPurpose's medical assistant program.

Eighteen-year-old Trent Arnold had hopes of opening a plumbing business, but Red Rocks Community College dropped its only plumbing course because of low enrollment. Then he discovered that CrossPurpose not only had a free plumbing program, but works with businesses in the community to support students after graduation. "They reach out to a lot of people; my coach was telling me that you have a couple companies that want to work with you, and you choose the company," Arnold says. "You choose which one is going to benefit you the most."

CrossPurpose is really helping with the homelessness and poverty issues that Englewood has been trying to solve for a while, Anderson says: "When I heard that CrossPurpose was considering coming down to this area, I just saw a hole that was going to be filled by this. These are people who actually know and love the community here."
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Katrina Leibee, a recent graduate of Colorado State University, is an editorial fellow at Westword, covering politics, business and culture.
Contact: Katrina Leibee