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

Learning from the Travel Experiences of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs)

Date: 10/1/2020
poor sidewalks in denver
Principal Researchers: Manish Shirgaokar

Unit: Department of Urban and Regional Planning

Project Abstract:
This project investigates the travel behavior of persons with disabilities (PWDs) focusing especially on barriers that they experience in the Denver region. Researchers know a great deal about mobility and safety of the broader population. However, the micro-geography of travel of PWDs, who travel largely on infrastructure that is designed for those without disabilities, is not well understood. Using a smartphone app, our primary objective is to map, at a fine grain, the travel patterns of volunteer PWDs and compare these trips with those of non-PWDs. Our community partner is the Denver Regional Mobility & Access Council (DRMAC). We aim to learn from DRMAC as subject matter experts and work with them to disseminate our findings for identifying gaps and adjusting infrastructure standards in the Denver region and the Front Range communities. Specifically, we aim to reassess standards for sidewalks and transit with a focus on curb cuts, transit stops, street furniture, and parking for micro-mobility devices such as e-scooters. We also designed this project as a proof-of-concept to test within the Denver region and will seek funding for scaling up to other cities with more diverse populations (including older adults over 64 years), topography, and weather.

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

Manish Shirgaokar Bio:
Manish is an assistant professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the College of Architecture and Planning. His research and teaching are centered on transportation and social equity. He teaches seminar and lab-based courses in transportation planning/policy, data analytics, and geographic information systems at the University of Colorado Denver. As a scholar, Manish focuses on how transportation systems help or hinder the mobility of disadvantaged groups such as older adults, women, immigrants, and low-income households. He works on topics in the United States, India, and Canada.

He has been a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) of the American Planning Association (APA) since 2014. Before joining academia Manish worked as a private sector consultant in India (2005-07; 1997-99) and at the Institute of Transportation Studies, Berkeley, CA (2003-05).Prior to starting the position at CU Denver, he was an assistant professor in the School of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. Over the 4.5 years I spent in Canada, Manish taught and supervised research students in Planning, Geography, and Transportation Engineering in classroom/seminar, studio, and lab-based settings. He is the 2017 recipient of the Emerging Scholar Award of the Regional Development and Planning Specialty Group of the American Association of Geographers.

2020 Award Recipients