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

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

Date: 11/1/2021
Principal Researchers: Gregory L Simon

Unit: Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences

Project Abstract: Food delivery from restaurants, stores and delivery drivers using online apps such as Grubhub and Instacart has skyrocketed over the past few years with 13.9% revenue growth in 2021 alone. Using a robust online survey, semi-structured interviews and analysis of driving data, this research will examine the effects of third-party food delivery platforms on restaurants, stores, and delivery drivers in Denver, CO. Our research will gather data on food delivery around four themes: trends and governance, demographics and participation, experiences and vulnerabilities, and patterns and movements. We expect our findings will reveal key insights concerning the labor, business, and mobility impacts of this emerging trend in Denver across the urban-suburban gradient and within different demographic communities. A number of key community stakeholders have been enlisted to ensure our research design addresses the most relevant and pressing issues facing Denver.

Bio: Gregory Simon is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Denver. He holds several other affiliated faculty positions at both CU Denver and CU Boulder. Dr. Simon earned his PhD in Geography from the University Washington and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University where he was a Principal Investigator in the Spatial History Project Lab. He has subsequently held visiting scholar positions at Stanford, UCLA and ETH Zurich. Among other professional appointments, Dr. Simon is the Environment and Society Section Editor for the journal Geography Compass. He served as the Chair of the Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers and has been a Core Advisor to the United Nations Foundation. Dr. Simon’s research recognizes that in both local and global contexts, humans are radically modifying the environment and producing new societal risks, which disproportionately impact marginalized communities. With these developments in mind, his program of research has examined topics ranging from wildfires and outdoor recreation in the American West to sustainable development and climate change mitigation initiatives in India. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation on several occasions. His most recent book is titled Flame and Fortune in the American West (University of California Press). Dr. Simon is honored to receive a Presidential Initiative Research Award as he works with talented CU Denver students and community partners to investigate the rise and implications of platform-based food delivery in Denver, Colorado. 

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2020 Award Recipients