School History

In 2002 a school was founded to serve the students of the Swansea, Elyria, and Clayton neighborhoods. In 2010 the school was named after beloved community philanthropist “Daddy Bruce” Randolph. Daddy Bruce was a barbecue restaurant owner who gave back to the community by providing food to those in need on Thanksgiving Day.

Who Was Daddy Bruce?

Bruce Randolph, circa 1980.

Daddy Bruce was a restaurateur who provided holiday meals for those in need in the Denver area for more than 25 years.

Read More About “Daddy Bruce” Randolph

Born on February 16, 1900 in Arkansas he was raised by his grandmother, who was an ex-save. According to Bruce Randolph Historian Reverend Ronald Wooding she gave Randolph her spiritual guidance along with her secret BBQ sauce recipe.

Randolph came to Denver in the 50s at the request of his son, Bruce Randolph Jr.

Once in Denver he wanted to go back to his first love, cooking and opened up a restaurant on the corner of Gilpin and 34th.

Daddy Bruce began feeding the hungry in the 1960s with a Thanksgiving dinner for 200 people at City Park. He carried his portable grill, and served Thanksgiving dinner to a crowd that grew every year.

It is estimated that in his lifetime he fed over 30,000 to 40,000 people on Thanksgiving alone.

It wasn’t just on Thanksgiving that he gave back to his community. Every year on his birthday he gave out clothes and food. He also supported those in need on Christmas and Easter. One Easter he dyed 25,000 eggs for an Easter egg hung in City Park!

School History: 2003 to Now


Students are not meeting academic achievement targets and school culture suffers. Bruce Randolph is recommended for turnaround. 


Kristin Waters becomes the turnaround principal, and her turnaround plan is dubbed “Challenge 2010.”


The turnaround builds positive momentum. Plans are laid out to open a high school on the Bruce Randolph campus. A 6th and a 9th grade are added. Foundations for Bruce’s turnaround include the implementation of behavior systems, a focus on high school graduation, and a coaching model.


DPS and Bruce enter an autonomy agreement, being the first school in the state to do so. Bruce how has freedom from union regulations and district requirements. A 10th grade is added.


Bruce Randolph has set a precedence for schools to achieve innovate status. Colorado State Senate President Peter Groff writes a law allowing schools to seek innovative status and freedom from union rules and district requirements. Academic achievement and student behavior continue to improve. An 11th grade is added.


In Bruce Randolph’s first graduating class, 73 students graduate. The school boasts a 97% graduation rate.


With Bruce’s impressive graduation rate, the focus shifts from getting kids to graduate high school to graduating college and career readiness based on the work of David Conley. President Barack Obama recognizes Bruce’s success in his State of the Union speech.

“You see, we know what’s possible from our children when reform isn’t just a top-down mandate, but the work of local teachers and principals, school boards and communities.  Take a school like Bruce Randolph in Denver.  Three years ago, it was rated one of the worst schools in Colorado — located on turf between two rival gangs.  But last May, 97 percent of the seniors received their diploma.  Most will be the first in their families to go to college.  And after the first year of the school’s transformation, the principal who made it possible wiped away tears when a student said, “Thank you, Ms. Waters, for showing that we are smart and we can make it.”  (Applause.)  That’s what good schools can do, and we want good schools all across the country.”

President Barack Obama, State of the Union 2011

Bruce Randolph continues to educate 6-12 students focusing on student achievement, culture, and teacher coaching with Cesar Cedillo as principal. In 2016-2017, Bruce Randolph School was rated yellow on the School performance framework.


In the 17-18 school year, the majority of Bruce Randolph teachers voted to revoke the Bruce Randolph Autonomy Agreement and instate the DCTA contract. This led to the formation of Bruce Randolph’s first SLT (School Leadership Team).   Bruce Randolph School graduates its eighth class and 97% of seniors where 100% of seniors were accepted to college.

2018 – Present

Bruce Randolph continues to educate 6-12 students focusing on high quality, standards-aligned instruction and strong school culture with Melissa Boyd as Principal.  We will partner with a variety of organizations to support each student and further the mission and vision of Bruce Randolph School, including: Colorado State University, INSPIRE, Heart & Hand, Metropolitan State University, Community College of Denver, Project VOYCE, and El Sistema Colorado. 

Randolph’s giving spirit lives on in the community that he helped.

“Our school’s values — brilliance, respect, unity, character and effort — really exemplify who Daddy Bruce was.”

Melissa Boyd, Principal Bruce Randolph SChool