FRANCES Wisebart Jacobs, the “Mother of Denver Charities,” will become the namesake for the newest elementary school in the Denver Public Schools system.
The DPS board recently voted to name the new ECE-5 level school in honor of the woman who founded National Jewish Hospital and who was the only female founder of the Community Chest, today’s United Way.
Jacobs is also credited with founding Denver’s first free kindergarten, designed to serve the young children of working mothers.
The school that will bear her name will be located on East Maxwell Place in Denver’s Green Valley neighborhood, not far from Denver International Airport. Construction on the school began last August and it is slated to be dedicated and opened later this year.
Acknowledging that the idea came from a committee made up of volunteers and the new school’s leadership, a DPS resolution that passed on Feb. 13 said that the name “is intended to inspire our students, their families and the community-at-large to honor the legacy of community service and join together to help build strong communities where we live, work and flourish.”
Denver businesswoman and community activist Sue Allon was among those advocating for the school to be named in Jacobs’ honor. A board member at NJH, she and the hospital’s CEO Michael Salem were joined by officials from United Way in speaking before the school board last month.
Allon told the IJN this week that she has been active with National Jewish for some eight years, primarily because she is so impressed with the institution’s educational programs for chronically ill children. “That’s how I discovered Frances Jacobs,” she says, “and what she did.”
She said that the idea to name a new school after Jacobs came from discussions she had with officials of DPS, with which she is also a volunteer. She later shared the notion with leaders at NJH and United Way, who quickly got on board.
“Frances Jacobs said that National Jewish will be the finest and that everybody deserves the finest care,” Allon said. “She also said that when women barely had rights and look at what she created.
“What an amazing role model for people, especially young women.”