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In 2008, a group of Northeast Denver residents affected by the impact of poverty on their neighbors set out to serve their community and walk with the poor. Following a traditional relief model, we worked with over 5,000 people in poverty over the next four years, including single moms, refugees, and the formerly incarcerated, but by 2012, we were struck by how little impact our work was making in the lives of our neighbors.

It was becoming clear that the fragmentary approaches to poverty alleviation that we, along with most other government, nonprofit, and church agencies had employed, were not working. In fact, many of the systems in place were actually keeping our neighbors in poverty. To make any significant change, we realized we had to stop asking the question “how do we help someone in poverty?” and ask instead, “how do we get someone out of poverty?”

Around the same time, Tom Gamel, a local business executive and philanthropist, who had become frustrated with the lack of substantial, long-term impact of the education initiatives he had been supporting, approached us with a desire to get families in Denver out of poverty. 

Our shared goal was simple - to help as many people in poverty as we could in the most substantial way possible.

So, together we launched Upstream Impact in October of 2012, with a mission to abolish all forms of poverty through career and community development. It wasn't long before we began to see substantial life-changing, economically empowering results for our neighbors. 

Tom passed away in 2015, but his vision to see 1,000 men, women, and children in Denver escape poverty continues today.


In Loving Memory of Thomas Gamel: Co-Founder, Visionary, & Friend