We had the good fortune of connecting with Shalelia Dillard and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shalelia, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
When I first founded my nonprofit, I enrolled in every leadership program, skill building workshop, and learning opportunity that I could. I knew that with an educational background, I needed to gain business skills in order to sustain a thriving business, so this step was very necessary for me. During this time, I learned as much as I could about running a successful nonprofit. Although I still have much to learn, I’ve realized that the time that I spent with my children and husband were valuable! I made a commitment to completing my learning opportunities and taking a two year break so that I can have more balance in my life. It’s tough when you are starting your own venture and you have so many people depending on you, but the lesson I learned is if you don’t commit to taking time for yourself and your loved ones, you will quickly burn out! For me, balance is about all parts of your life moving forward. You can’t dedicate all of your efforts into one area without another being affected, time is precious and balance means leveling out those extremes in your life.
What should our readers know about your business?
I love how I was able to create my dream job through founding my nonprofit, SCD Enrichment Program. SCD Enrichment Program (SCDEP), is a school-based nonprofit that recruits and supports middle and high school students of color in advanced coursework. We support students with a comprehensive critical thinking ethnic history course that allows them to understand the brilliance in their cultural history so they can embrace their giftedness with cultural appreciation. We also support our students with a college student of color mentor program and leadership opportunities. We are the only nonprofit of its kind here in the Denver Metro area! The idea for my program came from my personal experiences as a gifted and talented student in advanced coursework and eleven years of teaching experience. I often saw the low percentages (4%) of Black and Brown students in advanced coursework, so I created a program to increase students of color in these classes by providing academic and cultural support in order for them to take advantage of advanced coursework. When I began my journey, I quit teaching and dedicated all of my time to developing a research-based program. I am fortunate to have an amazing husband that supported our family as I created my dream. The journey to founding this nonprofit has been tough, but now after two years, I am finally able to pay myself a salary and hire staff! Throughout this journey, I depended on the support from my family, my amazing community and unbreakable drive to push through. I learned as much as I could in a short amount of time in order to create SCDEP for students with similar backgrounds that guides them through their giftedness.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
For great places to see, I would definitely take them to the historical Five Point Area to see the “Halem Renaissance of the West”, Red Rocks, Pikes Peak, 16 Street Mall, and give them a nice mountain experience in the hot springs. For amazing food, I would take them to Welton Street Cafe for some real Soul food, Chubby’s for the best Mexican-style smothered fries with chicharrones, and Cuba Bakery for authentic Cuban food!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to shout out my brother, Daniel. He is more than a big brother to me, he is my best friend! I truly would not be where I am today without out the constant support that he has given me. Daniel gave me wisdom and support to excel in school, helped enroll me in a scholarship program, and supported me all through secondary school and my undergraduate studies. He sacrificed so much in order for me to be successful and make it out of our circumstances as a child. I will forever be grateful to him!