Open World Learning (OWL)


What I like about OWL is how my teachers help me to learn to program code, which will help me in the future. I like the hands-on experiences where I get to choose my own project to show what I’ve learned, so I coded a program where a girl brings her dog to a river and they swim across it. Another thing is that I learn a new thing every day while doing my favorite hobby. -Ashley, OWL Student

Program Type

Curriculum/Instructional Materials
Hands on/Project-Based
Informal /Out of School

Target Audience

All Students


Black/African American


English Language Learner

Low Socio-Economic Status

Teachers/Educational Leaders




Pre-K - 5
Grades 6 - 8

 Accomplished link

Program Impact

OWL’s holistic, technology-focused programming decreases the achievement gap and addresses the need for more STEM education and access to technology in the Denver metro area, where many of OWL’s students have limited access to computers at school or at home. Compared to their non-OWL peers, OWL students on average receive 600% more computer lab time, show improved attendance and higher standardized test scores than their non-OWL peers. As students progress through OWL, earning a laptop, parents develop a positive relationship to their children’s schools and education, wanting their childen to attend college.


Program Overview

Open World Learning (OWL) offers in-school, after-school and summer technology programs for 3rd – 8th grade Title I students at 15 schools and three universities in the Denver metro area.

OWL’s mission is to support students’ school success by tapping the power of digital technology and peer teaching to develop leadership and ignite a love of learning. OWL offers its after-school programs during the critical time of 3-6 pm, when a high proportion of youth crime occurs and young children are unsupervised. Accordingly, OWL’s programs incorporate nutritious snacks, homework support, physical activity, computer lab time and peer mentoring.

OWL’s middle school program for 6th-8th graders embraces middle school students’ desires to chart their own course. The core of the program is divided into courses including robotics, computer science, and multimedia design. Students work through the program components by creating projects, researching career fields, and visiting local universities and prominent companies.

Summer Programs for 3rd-6th graders use weekly themes to teach students different advanced technology tools and provide fun field trips in addition to reading time and physical activity. Summer programs are designed to inspire continued learning during the summer months when the learning gap often increases.

How To Get Involved

Corporate support enables the company to observe OWL students in action, share employee volunteers, host a career panel, meet with site sponsors, OWL board members, and enjoy company recognition opportunities. For the after-school program, one school sponsorship costs $40,000 or $1,000 per student. For the summer program, the cost per student is $1,200. OWL offers corporate sponsorship packages ranging from $1,000 to $50,000 with various volunteer, recognition, speaking and promotional opportunities, tickets to events, site-sponsorship and more.

Funders and Partners

Harvey Family Foundation, Denver’s Office of Children’s Affairs, Mile High United Way, Gates Family Foundation, The Anschutz Foundation, Daniels Fund, Helen K. & Arthur E. Johnson Foundation, Rose Community Foundation, EcoMedia, IHS Markit, Comcast, Deloitte, Denver Public Schools, Jeffco Public Schools.


Lee Ann Reitzig, CEO

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Design Principles

The programs in this database clear a high bar. STEMworks reviewed each program against the Design Principles for Effective STEM Philanthropy.

  • Accomplished
  • Developing
  • Undeveloped

Overarching Principles

  • Need

    Identify and target a compelling and well-defined need.

  • Evaluation

    Use rigorous evaluation to continuously measure and inform progress towards the compelling need identified.

  • Sustainability

    Ensure work is sustainable.

  • Replication and Scalability

    Demonstrate replicability and scalability.

  • Partnerships

    Create high impact partnerships

  • Capacity

    Ensure organizational capacity to achieve goals.

STEM Principles

  • Challenging and Relevant Content

    Offer challenging and relevant STEM content for the target audience

  • STEM Practices

    Incorporate and encourage STEM practices.

  • Inspiration

    Inspire interest and engagement in STEM.

  • Under-Represented Groups

    Identify and address the needs of under-represented groups.