Our History


2023 – 100,000 Confidence and Connections Student Books Sold

After launching this proprietary curriculum in 2019, Intercambio has experienced significant increased demand, year after year. In 2023, we were proud to cross an inspiring milestone – 100,000 student books sold!


2022 – John Lopez Hired as New CEO

John Lopez, CEO

After Founder Lee Shainis stepped down from his position as Executive Director in the 2021, Intercambio launched a national search to find the next CEO. After months of vetting candidates from all over the US, John Lopez, PhD, took over leadership in 2022.


2020 – Begins Offering Online Classes

When in-person classes came to an abrupt halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Intercambio pivoted to online classes using the Confidence and Connections curriculum.


2019 – Launches New Curriculum, Confidence and Connections

Intercambio’s very own curriculum, Confidence and Connections, was launched in 2019 for our local program and 600 partner organizations nationwide.


2015 – Purchase Longmont Building

Opens a campus in Longmont, featuring 7 classrooms, 7 offices, a childcare room, community space and kitchen. At capacity, the space can hold 111 students in classes at one time!


2014 – Chosen as Pilot for Social Enterprise Investment SVP Program

Intercambio was selected to receive enterprise assistance from Social Venture Partners in Boulder County for one year to help build capacity through hiring additional staff for managing their educational resources and develop a national partnership strategy and improve marketing efforts.


2012 – National Program Offers Curriculum and Resources to Other Organizations

National Program reaches across the country to sell curriculum and all other Intercambio immigrant resources to similar organizations.


2011 – Distributes over 20,000 copies of The Immigrant Guide

Intercambio shares their award-winning model and The Immigrant Guide with communities in Michigan, Georgia, Missouri, Rhode Island, California, Oklahoma and Arizona.


2007 – Purchases Boulder Office and Completes New Curriculum

Intercambio now owns its main office in Boulder, Interactive English Adult ESL Curriculum is ready to go to press, and receives more awards from a grateful community: Boulder Champions of Diversity Award from YWCA Innovation IQ Award from Boulder County Business Report Nonprofit Business Citizen of the Year Award from Microbusiness Development Corporation.


2006 – Longmont Office Opens and Curriculum Under Development

Intercambio begins to develop its own adult, life-skills-focused curriculum to be taught by volunteers.


2005 – English Classes Offered to Immigrants from All Countries

2005 – English Classes Offered to Immigrants from All Countries


2004 – Lee Shainis Receives Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award

Lee Shainis, Executive Director and co-founder of Intercambio, receives the Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award, University of Michigan Business School.


2003 – Affordable English Expands to Lafayette and Longmont

Efforts to reach more immigrants expands the program to Lafayette and Longmont. Intercambio receives NOVA Award from Community Foundation for Education Innovation and Excellence.


2002 – First La Fiesta Celebration Draws 1,300 People

The First La Fiesta celebration draws 1,300 people.


2001 – Lee Shainis and Shawn Camden reach out to Latin American immigrants to begin to teach them English

Intercambio was born from a desire to connect immigrants and volunteer teachers in Boulder County to lift lives and strengthen our community. Lee and Shawn learned that language was a huge barrier but not the only one — immigrants expressed feelings of deep loneliness and alienation. They also possessed great talents that were underutilized for the community. At the same time, volunteers were excited to teach English and connect with newcomers, so they created a simple, safe platform to connect these segregated populations through English classes.