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Sanija Hodzic has been employed by CDI for 11 years, the last two as customer service manager. He has reason to be proud of his work: A company survey last year found that 93 percent of CDI's customers would recommend the computer refurbisher to a family member or friend.

At its most fundamental level, literacy represents the ability to read, write and communicate. Unfortunately, too many adolescents lack the literacy skills necessary to navigate the reading and writing requirements of high school and the future world in which they will work and live.

When Tim Marquez graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in the Denver Public Schools, he was clueless on how to get college scholarships. He eventually attended the Colorado School of Mines, where he received a degree in petroleum engineering and became highly successful.

In 2006, he decided to give back to his city by establishing a $50 million challenge grant (it meets every dollar that Denver schools raise) to provide every needy student who applies with a scholarship of up to $6,000 for as long as five years to any Colorado-based university.