Our local and global communities face complex, urgent, and persistent challenges. DU Grand Challenges is a family of programs that bring together university and community change-makers to address the most difficult and far-reaching issues facing our society today.

DU Grand Challenges addresses three inter-related issues in our communities: improving daily living, increasing economic opportunity and advancing deliberation and action for the public good. 

DU Grand Challenges programming is made possible by a generous grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations.


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In January 2016, the University of Denver approved its strategic plan, DU IMPACT 2025. Based on this plan, the Collaboration for the Public Good Working Group was established to lead the development and implementation of the DU Grand Challenges (DUGC) initiative.


What are Grand Challenges Initiatives?

University-led grand challenge initiatives have emerged nationally with the goal of addressing large, multidisciplinary public problems. With a focus on public problem solving, these initiatives offer a way to re-engage the public’s imagination and faith in higher education. The model that was developed still serves as a framework that engages the university and community at multiple, intersectional levels. No single discipline has the capacity to address these challenges in isolation, which is why a focus is placed on encouraging civic participation.

To further dive into university-led grand challenges initiatives, read Anne DePrince's (Associate Vice Provost, Public Good Strategy & Research) and Cara DiEnno's (Executive Director of CCESL) published article:


Tackling Grand Challenges: Community Engagement and Collective Impact in Public Problem Solving


Opportunities to Affect Change

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    A Community Table

    A Community Table is an online platform through which you can engage in structured, meaningful, solution-oriented conversations about the issues that matter most to you and your community. DU Grand Challenges provides the tools (sample invitations, conversation guides, facilitation training webinars, and more) that you need to host a  conversation. You choose when, on what platform, and with whom to have that conversation. It's that simple. 

    Prior to COVID, A Community Table was an annual event that fostered public dialogues by encouraging groups of 8-12 to collaborate in their favorite community locations. It was designed to uncover our most pressing challenges and generate action items for Grand Challenges to take on.

    A Community Table

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    Campus and community experts share bold and provocative ideas that spark discussion among attendees on how the topic impacts our communities, providing fuel and inspiration for bold actions that help our communities thrive.


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    DU Grand Challenges invests in community-engaged research and creative work projects that address our three issue areas: improving daily living, increasing economic opportunity, and advancing deliberation and action for the public good. Grants are available to both students and faculty.


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    Collective Impact Cohorts

    Collective Impact Cohorts bring together community and university voices to develop and implement collaborative work to create measurable change to improve daily living.

    Collective Impact Cohorts

Issue Areas

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Improve Daily Living

Improving Daily Living aims to identify and address the interconnected challenges that affect daily living in our communities. Through intentional community-university collaboration​, we seek to address the issues that affect people’s basic needs, from violence and just environmental sustainability to health equity and wellness.

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Increase Economic Opportunity

Increasing economic opportunity can include actions that range from expanding education access and improving infrastructure to fulfilling employment rights and decreasing poverty. 

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Advance Deliberation and Action for the Public Good

Advancing deliberation and action for the public good includes means amplifying youth voice and deepening civic engagement, as well as preparing new leaders and strengthening our connections to each other.