students working on designs at desk

The Presidential Initiative is intended to foster excellence and preeminence in urban and place-based research and creative work at CU Denver through offering funding, coordinating faculty across campus, communicating outcomes, enabling connections with partners in the community, and serving as a resource for sharing data and best practices. In so doing, it is intended to both increase the impact of CU Denver’s urban and place-based research and creative work, and to attract and fund faculty and students interested in this domain. While focused on urban issues generally, the Initiative emphasizes work relevant to the Front Range, particularly when it has implications nationally or internationally.

The Initiative funds projects that address critical and timely topics related to cities, such as:  Social and Environmental Justice, Equity and Inclusion, Affordable Housing, Plan Making, Public Spaces, Global Cities, Smart Cities, Urban Informatics, Artificial Intelligence for Cities, Infrastructure, Transportation and Mobility, Climate Adaptation, Green Infrastructure, Air and Water Quality, Urban Ecology, Biomimicry, Green Real Estate Development, Public Health, Water and Energy Use, Natural Hazards Mitigation, Environmental Policy, Public Finance, Historic Preservation, Creative Industries, Placemaking, Community Development, Arts and Urban Revitalization, Healthcare Access, Economic Development, Behavioral Economics, Education Policy and Practice, Public Policy and Governance, Public Safety, Public Engagement, Entrepreneurship, Urban Design, Construction Management, and much more.

The 2021 Request for Proposals for seed grants  is now closed. Full descriptions of the projects awarded in the 2020 round of funding are given from the links below.

2021 Award Recipients


Community-Based Narrative Story Maps of the Lost Auraria Neighborhood

Principal Researchers:

Brian Page

Denver’s Last Food Mile: The People and Patterns of Third-Party Food Delivery in Denver, Colorado

Principal Researchers:

Gregory L Simon

Developing protocols to better characterize and utilize networks of low-cost air quality monitors to inform public health and urban planning

Principal Researchers:

Priyanka deSouza and Ben Crawford

Educational and Labor Market Outcomes of Place-Based Scholarship Programs: Evidence from the Denver Scholarship Foundation

Principal Researchers:

Hani Mansour and Brian Duncan

Seeking Housing Affordability in the Denver Metro Area: Detailing the causes and outcomes of the housing crisis to inform local and national solutions

Principal Researchers:

Carrie Makarewicz

The role of green stormwater infrastructure in supporting plant biodiversity and ecosystem services along an urban greenway in Colorado

Principal Researchers:

Laurel Hartley and Christina Alba

2020 Award Recipients