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YAO-ZA! Young Ambassadors Launches its Denver Chapter

By Amy Steinhoff

The following post was written by YAO member and YAO-ZA! co-organizer Amy Steinhoff.

The organizers of YAO-ZA! (Photo: emilyelizabethphoto.com).Greetings from the Denver chapter of Young Ambassadors for Opportunity (YAO). We are thrilled to officially become part of the YAO network after YAO-ZA!, our successful chapter launch on Saturday, May 21st. Thanks to a dedicated team and the generous support of our sponsors, families and friends, we were able to raise over $10,000–enough to fund two Trust Groups at Opportunity Tanzania–and spread awareness about Opportunity International’s microfinance work, all while having a great time!

YAO - Denver co-chairs Caitlin Andrews (left) & Monica Perez cut the ribbon. (Photo: emilyelizabethphoto.com)Nearly 250 Denverites from all parts of the city came to hear about YAO and enjoy a night of local art, music, food and drink. We were lucky enough to be joined by Sonya Perez-Lauterbach, the manager of YAO, as well as members of the Board of Governors, and our keynote speaker Daniel Ryumugabe, the Transformational Impact Manager at Opportunity Rwanda. After some brief words about Opportunity International’s mission and history, we introduced the co-chairs and a few of the members of YAO – Denver, and cut the ribbon to mark the occasion.

Attendees enjoy local art plus handmade Rwandan crafts from Trading for Treasures. (Photo: emilyelizabethphoto.com)We were thrilled to find a venue for the event in Denver’s Santa Fe Art District at the Colorado Arts Center, Inc. (CACI). A huge thanks is due to CACI’s executive director Jeff King for hosting the launch. CACI is a local art nonprofit dedicated to growing Denver’s creative spaces.

Many more thanks are due to the local businesses, individuals, and nonprofit organizations that donated their time, energy, and financial support to get YAO – Denver up and running. It’s because of their collaboration that we were able to take an idea, refine it over months of weekly meetings, and develop it into a successful fundraiser and the start of an exciting new globally-minded community in Denver. With some healthy doses of trial, error, and creativity we navigated the logistical hurdles–including finding super-sized scissors for ribbon cutting!–to host this launch and future YAO – Denver events!

Opportunity Rwanda's Daniel Ryumugabe. (Photo: emilyelizabethphoto.com)Now that YAO-Denver is officially established, we have big plans to follow up with a leader retreat and a happy hour on June 9th at Diego’s Mexican Cantina in LoDo. As for the next big event, we’re inspired by other chapters who have hosted benefit concerts–like YAO – Chicago’s Tunes for Tanzania last November–and we hope to plan one of our own this fall.

YAO – Denver is so grateful for the community’s support and we can’t wait to grow our chapter.

Check out YAO – Denver on Facebook for more YAO-ZA! photos and for updates on future events. All photography by Emily Elizabeth Photography.

To join YAO – Denver, register with YAO and check the Denver box in the Chapters section.

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