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

Five Points to Five Notes

Date: 10/1/2020
black american west museum
Principal Researchers: Kristin Wood and Laurie Baefsky

Unit: College of Engineering, Design and Computing and Comcast Center

Project Abstract:
The Five Points to Five Notes project, as a comprehensive effort, is a community co-created creative work consisting of a large-scale public art installation involving a commissioned granite and bronze sculpture by Denver artist (and CU Denver graduate) Walter Ware III; a mural installation by another Denver artist; and a digital artist walk spanning the entire River North (RiNo) Art district, which will take the form of a multimedia augmented reality (AR) app for viewers to explore content related to place and history. This broader project is intended to honor Denver’s African American cultural heritage in the River North neighborhoods. The physical art will focus on the jazz history of the Five Points neighborhood.  The digital artist walk will present a broader look at the African America history and cultural heritage of the region and will represent the many locations valued by the residents of the area, beyond sites that are just widely known. The particular focus of this Presidential Seed Grant is to develop the foundational elements of the digital artistic walk. The objectives of this portion of the project are to 1) create lasting art to enhance the area, 2) engage the community in meaningful reflection of and to lift up their heritage and cultural history of place, and 3) educate CU Denver students in a variety of skills, including understanding creative placemaking and the process of community empowerment through arts engagement. The project will be implemented with significant assistance from our primary community partners; City and County of Denver, RiNo Art District, Black American West Museum & Heritage Center, and History Colorado. 

View project updates from the 2021 Fall Research Showcase [PDF]

Kristin Wood Bio:
Dr. Wood, a global leader in Design Innovation, is the Senior Associate Dean of Innovation and Engagement for the College of Engineering, Design and Computing and Inworks Director. He leads the college’s strategy to impact the Denver urban corridor and Colorado through strategic partnerships with the public and private sector that span education, research, and professional development. Dr. Wood has published more than 550 refereed articles and books, has received more than 100 national and international awards in design, and consulted with more than 100 companies and government organizations on Design Innovation and Design Thinking. Dr. Wood has also led and mentored 25 start-up companies, and is currently an ASME Fellow. 

Laurie Baefsky Bio:
Dr. Baefsky has built and directed arts programs within academic, non-profit, and government sectors for close to 20 years. She is the Associate Dean of Research & Strategic Partnerships for the College of Arts & Media. Dr. Baefsky supports and develops faculty and student research expertise, impact and success that cuts across fields, and is committed to the critical role of arts and design in creating healthy, resilient communities, and is dedicated to elevating arts and culture as a core sector in an equitable society. Trained as a classical flutist and music educator, Dr. Baefsky holds degrees in flute performance from Stony Brook University, University of Michigan, and California State University, Fullerton. She has appeared with the Minnesota Orchestra, Utah Symphony, was a 15-year member of the Virginia Symphony, and founding fellow with the New World Symphony.

2020 Award Recipients