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Aurora community and CU create million-dollar partnership for health, jobs

It’s all about “the connection we all have to each other”

3/17/2014
Anschutz Medical Campus

By Dan Meyers | University Communications

A new partnership between the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and its neighbors in Aurora and Denver is designed to improve health and opportunity in the community.

The Community-Campus Partnership (CCP) will create a virtual and physical hub for convening and connecting efforts between the campus and the community groups and leaders around it.

The partnership has received start-up funding of about $1 million over three years from the CU Denver | Anschutz Chancellor’s Office, the School of Medicine and the Denver Foundation. Other schools and departments across campus and the City of Aurora are providing various in-kind contributions to this effort. 

“This is a win-win situation,” says Lilly Marks, University of Colorado’s vice president for health affairs and executive vice chancellor of the Anschutz Medical Campus. “Nurturing our relationship with our neighbors is one of the pillars of this campus.

“Working together with those around us, I believe we can improve the health of our community. But this effort also will make us better at the research, teaching and clinical care that are integral to our campus.”

Partnership member Ruben Medina, senior recreation specialist and director of Aurora’s Moorhead Community Center, put it this way:

This partnership for me is the connection we all have to each other.”

High on the list of priorities for the partnership is expanding workforce development in neighboring communities.

“The location of the Anschutz Medical Campus in one of the most economically challenged communities in Colorado presents an array of attractive opportunities, economic and otherwise, for collaboration,” says partnership Director Robert McGranaghan, with the medical school’s Department of Family Medicine.

The Anschutz campus, located on a former military base in Aurora, occupies more than 200 acres and includes five CU health care schools and the Graduate School, numerous centers and institutes and University of Colorado Hospital and Children’s Hospital Colorado.

One of the pillars of the campus, along with education, research and clinical care, is community.

CU’s McGranaghan says the partnership is founded on qualities such as equity, mutual respect, sustainability and responsiveness to health-related problems. From CU’s point of view, he says, “We want the campus to be a good neighbor.”

Partnership member Mark Burry, a life-long resident of North Aurora and member of numerous community organizations and associations, became involved with the initiative last year because “I want to see North Aurora become revitalized into a more thriving community.”

“By accessing the resources and opportunities that the Campus provides, I believe this area can be rejuvenated economically,” he says. “I also hope to see some of the area’s health-care needs addressed and resolved through the partnership."

Another member of the partnership, Carol McBride, development director for Academic and Career Pathways for Aurora Public Schools, says this could be good for kids of Aurora. The Aurora LIGHTS Health Sciences Pathway program already uses campus visits to help students set goals for a future in health and allied health professions.

“Those goals are fueled by life-changing campus experiences and founded on growing confidence in the prospect of living and working in a healthy Aurora community,” she says.

Start-up funding is being provided by the university for an initial three years for staffing, operating costs and new community projects. The Denver Foundation is contributing funds for a community liaison.

The CCP has a governing body of some 30 community and cross-campus leaders that has been guiding its work for the past year. Although the initiative focuses primarily on Aurora at first, the intention is to expand to the metro area.

“We are the sum of many,” says Medina, with the Moorhead center. “We all have gifts and talents and when we share them we open up opportunities for all to share and give and we learn more about each other so we can truly begin to build a genuine, meaningful and trusting relationship that will benefit all who reside in our community.”

The partnership offices will be located in two buildings -- the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center on the campus and in the City of Aurora’s Aurora Strong Resilience Center, at 13th Avenue and Peoria Street.

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Contact: Dan.Meyers@ucdenver.edu

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