Led by:

Anne DePrince, Professor, Psychology and Faculty Director, Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning

Cara DiEnno, Associate Director, Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning

The University is working to enhance mutually beneficial and reciprocal opportunities for community-university collaboration. Such opportunities will serve the public good and promote social change, with special attention to underserved communities. Our aim is to engage all schools, disciplines, and departments in order to advance collaboration that will increase the public good impact of our research, creative work, teaching/learning, and service.

DU’s public good vision recognizes the multidisciplinary nature of society’s most pressing issues. Therefore, it calls forth problem-solving and solution-seeking across the university—from the humanities to the arts, engineering, business, and beyond.


Working Groups

Collaboration for the Public Good

Chris Bennett

Executive Director, Shared Services

Vickie Berkley

DU Grand Challenges Program Manager, Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning

Esteban Gomez

Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology

Heather Martin

Dean, Teaching Associate Professor, Writing Program School of Social Work

Amanda Moore McBride

Dean, Graduate School of Social Work

Lynn Schofield Clark

Professor, Media, Film and Journalism Studies and Director, Estlow International Center for Journalism and New Media

Carolyn Sommers

Assistant Director of Career & Professional Development, Career Services

The Collaboration for the Public Good working group has been working on 5 main projects:

Grand Challenges: (DUGC)

The DUGC initiative is getting a boost from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations. A $100,000 gift will be used to develop new ways for students and faculty to collaborate with the community as we work to address our most difficult issues. Read more! 

We have developed a plan to tackle “Grand Challenges.” We will harness the multi-disciplinary expertise and interests of students, staff, faculty and Colorado community members to pursue ambitious and achievable public good goals. Challenges will roll out in three-year cycles. In the first year, a challenge will be selected and aspirations will be identified. In year two, collaborative actions will be taken to address the challenge. For example, faculty and students might work with communities on research projects or creative work that addresses the challenge. The final year will be spent demonstrating achievements toward the public good goals.

Last summer, we asked you to share your ideas for issues that DUGC should address. We received over 150 responses from you, our students and faculty, and from members of the Denver community.

Thriving Communities will address three issues: Living, Working, and Participating. Each of these issues will be addressed in 3-year cycles that allow us to co-create Aspirations, Actions, and Achievement with community partners.

Connect with DUGC in the following ways: 

  1. Apply for a Grand Challenge Classes Grant! RFP
  2. Attend a DUGC Forum next academic year!
  3. Apply for a DU Grand Challenges Scholars Grant! (applications closed)

Six inaugural DU Grand Challenges Scholars Grants have been awarded to faculty for community-engaged scholarship that will tackle issues that impact daily living in our communities.  Congratulations to the following faculty!

Faculty: Aaron Schneider, Ph.D., Latin America Center, Josef Korbel School of International Studies
Title of Research: Combatting Gentrification & Building Community in North Denver
Community Partner: North Denver Community Residents’ Committee
Grant Amount: $4,350

Faculty: Esteban Gomez, Ph.D., Anthropology and Zoe Tobier, MFA, University Writing Program
Title of Research: This is My Denver
Community Partner: North Denver High School
Grant Amount: $4,500

Faculty: Heather Martin, Ph.D., University Writing Program
Title of Research: Charles Hay World School Literacy Improvement Initiative and Faculty Development Plan: Phase I
Community Partner: Charles Hay World School
Grant Amount: $4,930

Faculty: Jennifer Greenfield, MSW, Ph.D., Graduate School of Social Work
Title of Research: Barriers and Facilitators of Maternal Engagement with Preterm Infants in a Rural Colorado Hospital
Community Partner: Poudre Valley Hospital
Grant Amount: $4,979

Faculty: Kimberly Bender, PhD, MSW, Graduate School of Social Work and Matt Rutherford, PhD, School of Engineering and Computer Science
Title of Research: Design Thinking for Public Good: Youth Homelessness
Community Partner: Urban Peak
Grant Amount: $4,974

Faculty: Nancy Reichman, PhD, Colorado Womens College
Title of Research: Living A Middle-Class Life in Colorado
Community Partner: The Women’s Foundation of Colorado
Grant Amount: $5,000

As a preface to Grand Challenges, we hosted a regular series of forums designed to facilitate dialogue about collaboration to advance community-engaged scholarship. Over 60 faculty and staff from various departments across campus have attended these events, discussing and exploring collaborations on topics ranging from sustainability to scholarship for equity.  You can watch the videos of past forums and be informed of future events on CCESL’s Facebook page.

Community-Engaged Student Fellows:

This year, the cohort is comprised of 12 Community-Engaged Student Fellows from disciplines across campus including Biology, Research Methods & Statistics, English, Higher Education, Economics, Social Work, and more. The fellows are working in the issue areas of the Metropolitan Denver Nature Alliance (mDNA), Immigration, Refugees, Health Equity, Social Justice & Sustainability, Education Access & Equity, Gender Equity, Arts & Engagement, Writing & the Public Good, Urban Renewal, and DU Grand Challenges.

This student program is designed to be responsive to evolving organizational support needs for faculty, staff, and students working in multidisciplinary public good issue areas. Two public good/community engagement collaborations are a direct result of fellows work from  2016-2017, while an additional 11 projects/ideas/connections are in progress, having been seeded by the work of the fellows. Read more about one of the projects here!

Institutional Scan of Current Community-Engaged Work:

We have recently completed a survey to benchmark DU’s current community-engaged work that will allow us to identify ways to advance collaboration for the public good. We are currently analyzing and mapping the results and relationships.

CUMU-TDC (Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities and The Democracy Collaborative) Higher Education Anchor Mission Initiative: 

Joining 30 other colleges and universities across the United States, DU has been selected as an inaugural member of the Higher Education Anchor Mission Initiative, a national collaboration designed to develop and share new strategies for deploying higher education’s intellectual and place-based resources to enhance the economic and social well-being of the communities they serve.

Local economic engines and mission-driven organizations inextricably linked to the long-term well-being of their local communities, and uniquely positioned and incentivized to play a more active role in supporting the local economy. By intentionally implementing an anchor framework the whole university, including the business and administrative divisions, will be able to better serve its public mission. The Higher Education Anchor Mission Initiative will provide a national platform to accelerate this important work.

Pathways to the Public Good Curricular Innovation Project:

We created a successful pilot of a faculty-mentored student critical reflection experience on their public good identity through an (e)portfolio.

  • Six faculty mentors supported 19 students in this pilot year;
  • A new independent study course was approved called Pathways to the Public Good;
  • Assessments showed meaningful student growth in their reflections addressing their ability to articulate a clear public identity and potential to contribute to the public good; to make meaning of community-engaged work; and to integrate learning across community-engaged experiences.

Last Updated: 6/29/18

The Spirituals Project

M. Roger Holland, II

Director of the Spirituals Project and Teaching Assistant Professor, Lamont School of Music

Arthur Jones

Founder of the Spirituals Project and Teaching Professor, Lamont School of Music

In 1998, The Spirituals Project (SP) was founded to preserve and revitalize the music and teachings of the sacred folk songs called “spirituals,” created and first sung by enslaved Africans in America in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Last summer, M. Roger Holland, II was selected to be the Director after a nationwide search and also joined the Lamont School of Music faculty. In September, Arthur C. Jones also joined Lamont after serving as chair of the Spirituals Project board, as a clinical professor in the university’s Psychology Department for 18 years, and subsequently as a clinical professor and associate dean at DU’s Colorado Women’s College for seven years.

In 2016-2017, we outlined a strategic vision and preliminary five-year plan. The strategic plan focuses in four areas: Research, Education, Activism and Performance. Learn more: Spirituals – 5 Year Plan

In collaboration with the Office of Teaching and Learning, the SP developed Sweet Chariot: The Story of the Spirituals, a comprehensive multimedia educational website for use in courses, and for anyone interested in learning about the history and ongoing influences of the spirituals. The Sweet Chariot website includes an extensive historical overview, explorations of the evolving cultural and musical contexts of the spirituals, sound clips of songs, excerpts of interviews with artists, composers and community workers, and links to library and internet resources for those interested in further study.

We also hosted several concerts throughout the year. One tradition of the spirituals are the slave songs themselves, historically sung in solitude, while working, or/and communally. Another is the concertized versions of the spirituals. The Choir consists of singers of all ages and backgrounds with varying degrees of musical experience.

The Spirituals Project Choir will be presenting a free concert in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the founding of The Spirituals Project.  This event will take place on Friday, May 18th at 7:30 p.m. in Gates Hall, Newman Center for the Performing Arts, 2344 E. Iliff Ave, Denver CO 80208. Some exciting new repertoire will be included in the program. No tickets are required. Additionally, complimentary parking will be available in the parking garage located at the rear of the Newman Center, on the northwest corner of University Blvd. and Wesley Ave.

To view the Choir schedule, please visit the Lamont Performance events calendar:

 Last Updated: 4/13/18