ACE Student Scholars Grants

What are ACE Student Scholars Grants?

Advancing Community-Engaged (ACE) Student Scholars Grants provide financial support for undergraduate and graduate students doing community-engaged research or creative works.

ACE Student Scholars Grants are offered through the Center for Community Engagement to advance Scholarship & Learning (CCESL) as part of the DU Grand Challenges initiative. They are a 4D signature experience that enables students to deepen and apply their thinking, reflect on their interests and goals, and gain new perspectives on education and life. Through their ACE Student Scholar experience, students will develop the knowledge, skills, and commitments to do authentic, ethical community-engaged work grounded in CCESL's four pathways of Think, Connect, Act, Reflect.


On this page:

Grant Benefits

  • dollar icon

    Student Compensation & Covered Project Costs

    For the Academic Year 2023-2024:

    Applicants can request up to $3,000 ($1,000 per quarter – fall, winter, and spring) if a student applies individually, or up to $6,000 ($2,000 per quarter – fall, winter, and spring) for two or more students working together can be used for student compensation, project costs and/or project-related travel expenses. Additionally, each mentor (e.g., faculty/staff) may be eligible to receive a $200 (upfront) stipend for their mentorship of an undergraduate student (or $500 for a group of undergraduate students). See the Request for Proposal (RFP) below for full details on eligible expenses and student compensation.


    For the Summer of 2024:

    Grants can be up to $3,500 for compensation per student and up to $2,000 to support project costs and/or project-related travel expenses.  Additionally, each mentor (e.g., faculty/staff) may be eligible to receive a $2000 stipend for their mentorship of an undergraduate student. See the Request for Proposal (RFP) below for full details on eligible expenses and student compensation.

  • lightbulb icon


    Recipients become DU Grand Challenges (DUGC) Student Scholars and work with either a Community-Engaged Fellow, CCESL staff member, or faculty mentor on their community-engaged research or creative work project. Faculty mentors may be eligible to receive a $200 stipend (or $500 for a group of undergraduate students).

  • group of people icon

    Access to Resources

    As DUGC Student Scholars, recipients are part of a collaborative network and can access support and resources such as CCESL’s in-person and asynchronous trainings, CCESL courses, and networking opportunities.

  • paper and pen icon

    Project Portfolio

    Recipients document their learning and project outcomes in a public-facing, ePortfolio website that students can use to share their work with their professional networks.

Application Process

What do ACE Student Scholars Grants Support?

ACE Student Scholars Grants support community-engaged research or creative work projects that are faculty-mentored and designed to:

  1. Improve daily living in our communities: For example, meeting basic needs and tackling issues like food and housing insecurity, crime and safety, migration, and urban sustainability.
  2. Increase economic opportunity in our communities: For example, expanding education access, improving transportation options, fulfilling employment rights, advancing entrepreneurship and emerging employee-owned business models, and decreasing poverty.
  3. Improving deliberation and action for the public good in our communities: For example, inspiring civic engagement, amplifying youth voices, preparing new leaders, and strengthening our connections to one another.

Community-engaged research and creative work projects are co-developed with community partners. Collaboration between students and partners should be mutually beneficial and reciprocal.

For example, a project might answer a research question that is important to the student researcher while also meeting a need that is important to the community. Potential partners include nonprofits, grassroots organizations, government agencies or entrepreneurs and businesses.


All undergraduate students currently in good standing are eligible to apply. Proposals from graduate students are accepted as funds are available. Graduate students are encouraged to contact CCESL before applying to see if funds are available.

How to Apply  

Students should submit their proposals via the Qualtrics form linked in the Request for Proposals (RFP). In addition to the Qualtrics form, students must have faculty mentor and community partner letters sent directly to from the letter’s author. For detailed application instructions, please review the RFP to help you prepare your application. 


The ACE Student Scholars Grants Rubric outlines the criteria that will be used to evaluate your proposal.

Application Deadlines

Proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis until all funds have been awarded or by the following deadlines, whichever comes first:

  • Academic Year 2023-2024 projects: April 25th, 2024
  • Summer 2024 projects: May 31st, 2024

Project Timelines

Final deliverables are due within 30 days of the project’s completion or by June 1, 2024 (for AY projects) or August 31, 2024 (for summer projects) whichever is sooner. Students may determine their own timeline for their project within this timeframe.

For detailed application instructions, please review the Request for Proposals (RFP) to help you prepare your application.

Read RFP

Looking for Project Inspiration?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

If you have questions regarding project ideas, faculty mentorship, or requirements please read the FAQ below before contacting us. If you'd like further clarification or if you're unable to find an answer below, email us at

  • General Questions

    What is the ACE Student Scholars Grant? 

    The ACE Student Scholars Grant is a funding opportunity provided by DU Grand Challenges (DUGC) for DU students to engage in community-engaged research or creative work projects that address complex societal issues. 

    What is community-engaged scholarly work? 

    Community-engaged scholarly work is an approach to academic study that involves working collaboratively with community partners. It must include either research or creative work. A community engaged research project might answer a question that is important for the student researcher while also meeting a need that is important to the community. This work should be mutually beneficial, not single-sided service.  

    Who can apply for the ACE Student Scholars Grant? 

    All undergraduate students in good standing at the University of Denver are eligible to apply. Graduate students may apply if funds are available and are encouraged to contact the Center for Community Engagement to inquire about funding availability. 

    How can I contact the Center for Community Engagement for questions about the grant? 

    You can email with "Your Last Name/DUGC ACE Question" in the subject line for project ideas, mentorship, or requirements-related inquiries. 

  • Funding and Benefits Questions

    How much funding can I receive through the ACE Student Scholars Grant? 

    For the Academic Year 2023-2024, grants can be up to $3,000 for a single student or up to $6,000 for two or more students working together. For the Summer of 2024, grants can be up to $3,500 for compensation per student and up to $2,000 for project costs. 

    What can the grant funds be used for? 

    Grant funds can be used for student compensation, project costs, and project-related travel expenses. Mentors may also be eligible for a stipend. 

    What benefits come with receiving an ACE Student Scholars Grant? 

    In addition to funding, awardees become DUGC Student Scholars and gain access to resources such as training, mentorship, and support from the Center for Community Engagement. 

  • Eligibility and Use of Funds Questions

    Can graduate students apply for the ACE Student Scholars Grant? 

    Graduate students can apply, but funding for graduate students is subject to availability. They are encouraged to contact CCESL to inquire about funding before applying. 

    Can I collaborate with other students on my project? 

    Yes, students are encouraged to collaborate with others, especially those from different majors. 

    Can I receive funding from multiple ACE Student Scholars Grants simultaneously? 

    No, students cannot have funding from more than one ACE Student Scholars Grant at the same time. 

  • Budget and Reporting Questions

    What expenses are eligible for funding? 

    Most expenses related to research and creative activity are eligible. Examples include student compensation, project costs, and project-related travel expenses. 

    What expenses are non-fundable through ACE Student Scholars grants? 

    Expenses that have already been incurred, computers/tablets, student tuition, “backpay” covering student compensation or project costs accrued before the date the grant is awarded, any amount to relieve the operating budgets of university departments or community partners, and work from students only for the purpose of class-credit (should the student go above the work level required for the class, this is fine).  

    When do I need to submit my final ePortfolio? 

    Final ePortfolios are due within 30 days of the project’s completion or by June 1, 2024 (for academic year projects) or August 31, 2024 (for summer projects), whichever is sooner. 

    Are there any policies I need to follow when using grant funds? 

    Yes, all use of ACE Student Scholars Grant funding must be in accordance with institutional policies as detailed on the DU website.  If you are collecting data from people, you probably need approval from the Institutional Review Board on campus. This includes interviewing people. Your faculty partner should assist you in this process, unless you are CCESL mentored. IRB applications are reviewed on a monthly basis so you should send your application through the IRB office as early as possible. Your grant can be approved by the CCESL office, but funds may be withheld until you receive approval from the IRB office. 

    See the Institutional Review Board (IRB) page, or contact the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP):

  • Application Process Questions

    How do I apply for the ACE Student Scholars Grant? 

    To apply, you must complete the online application, obtain letters of support from your faculty/staff mentor and community partner (if applicable), and submit a budget and budget justification. Review the submission requirements for more details. 

    What is the deadline for submitting grant proposals? 

    Grant proposals are accepted on a rolling basis until all funds have been awarded or until the specified deadlines (April 25th, 2024, for academic year projects and May 31st, 2024, for summer projects), whichever comes first. It is recommended to submit your proposal well in advance of these deadlines. 

    How will I know if my proposal is complete? 

    You will receive an automated confirmation email after submitting the online application. CCESL will also send an email to confirm the successful submission of your complete proposal once all required letters and documents have been received. 

    What should I do if I have previously received an ACE Student Scholars Grant? 

    If you have previously received a grant, your Project Narrative should address how your current proposal differs from previously funded projects. 

    What should I do if I don't receive an email with responses to my application? 

    If you haven't received an email response regarding your application, it's possible that your application wasn't successfully submitted. Double-check your submission, ensure all required components are included, and if needed, reach out to the Center for Community Engagement for assistance. 

    What constitutes a complete application for the ACE Student Scholars Grant? 

    A complete application includes the online application form, letters of support from your faculty/staff mentor and community partner (if applicable), a budget and budget justification, and all other required documents as outlined in the submission requirements. Ensure that all components are submitted correctly for your application to be considered complete. 

    How should I submit letters of support? 

    • Faculty/Staff Mentor's Support Letter: 
      • Your mentor should email a brief letter to with 'Your Last Name-DUGC ACE Letter' in the subject line. 
    • Community Partner's Collaboration Letter: 
      • Your community partner should email a brief letter to with 'Your Last Name-DUGC ACE Letter' in the subject line. 

    What should my letters of support include? 

    • Letter from Faculty/Staff Mentor: 
      • A brief expression of support for your project and acknowledgment of departmental responsibility. Clarify understanding of fund access and usage in line with institutional policies, accessible at institutional policy link. The letter should emphasize they have discussed the project and this letter requirement with you prior to submission. 
    • Letter from Community Partner: 
      • Briefly describe the assessment of the collaboration and outline potential community benefits resulting from the project. The letter should demonstrate that they have discussed the project and letter requirements with you before providing the letter. 
  • Timeline and Review Process Questions

    What is the timeline for reviewing ACE Student Scholars Grant applications? 

    The timeline for reviewing applications typically takes around two weeks from the date of receiving a complete proposal. However, it's recommended to submit your proposal well in advance of your intended project start date to allow sufficient time for review and processing. 

    When can I expect to start my ACE Student Scholars Grant project after submission? 

    It is recommended to plan for a start date that is 4-6 weeks after submitting a complete proposal, including all required documents. This timeline allows for the review process and necessary administrative steps. 

  • DU International Travel and IRB

    We ask that you work with your faculty mentor to make sure you are adhering to all the relevant institutional policies, including international travel and IRB. 

    You can find more information about registering your travel here:

    And information about IRB here:

Need a Project Idea?

Look through the Scholar Shop Community Partner database below to see an array of projects our community partners are seeking to collaborate on. To learn more about what Scholar Shop is, visit the Scholar Shop info page. If you’ve found an organization/project you’d like to collaborate with or you just want to learn more, send an email to the Scholar Shop Coordinator, at, and we'll be happy to get you connected.



ACE Student Scholars Grant Impact

ACE grant recipients embark on transformative learning journeys, documented in their ePortfolios. These ePortfolios, which assess students' accomplishments across CCESL’s Four Pathways to Community-Engaged Knowledge, Skills, & Commitments: Think. Connect. Act. Reflect, showcase the competencies students achieve through the program. In the 2022-2023 academic year, students demonstrated intermediate or advanced abilities in several key areas:

100% collaborated for social change and the public good

91% developed authentic, meaningful relationships

78% gained a deep understanding of their project's social change issue

75% demonstrated an understanding of pathways to social change

group of young students sitting on a rug on the floor

Featured Project: The Writers in the Schools Program

For the past two years, Dr. Kelly Krumrie and a team of DU students have used ACE grants to support the revival of The Writers in the Schools Program which seeks to cultivate a creative, intuitive, and dynamic learning experience for all students through the implementation of poetry, prose, and imagination throughout Denver schools.

"Writers in the Schools has further developed my passions and allowed me to discover outlets for scholarship within my community. "

ACE Student Scholar Experiences


"Working with the community and the faculty has improved my communication skills greatly. Reaching out to girls who were not able to go to school because of the lack of sanitary products helped me to realize the power in me to change other people's lives"

chat icon

"This program has helped me to gain a more adaptable skill set by engaging in experimental and community based learning, I applied what I have learned to a real world setting."

chat icon

"It was extremely helpful for me to participate in the program in order to inform the development of the community-based research I am engaging in for my thesis. I learned a lot that helped shape my project [and] got meaningful feedback and experience"

Past Projects

2023-2024 Funded Projects

Click "+" to expand and view. 

  • Immersive Stargazing: Leveraging VR/AR for Astronomy Education

    Students Murphy and Peter collaborated on a project that leverages VR/AR (virtual reality/augmented reality) to create immersive stargazing experiences that make exploration of the universe more accessible and engaging for individuals that face barriers such as urban light pollution, lack of equipment, or geographical constraints.

    Students behind the project: Murphy Li and Peter Stamm

    Project Mentors: Toshiya Ueta

  • Youth Organizing

    Youth Organizing (YO) was a youth civic engagement initiative based on the principles of community organizing, equity, and social justice. YO drew on the talents of marginalized students of color who explored the dynamics of using their voices to organize for social change. A team of DU students of color worked closely with youth in the Socially Just Education class at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Early College (DMLK) to identify, research, and take action on issues directly impacting the youth in their communities. The DU team visited the class weekly, facilitating the process based on the YO curriculum, which drew on the traditions and diversities of youth organizing and youth participatory action research. DU teams also conducted research on the impacts of this process and action on youth and community members.

    Students behind the project: Daniela Chavez, Marve Aguinaga, Giovani Valladares Giron, Yamilet Espinoza Nunez 

    Project Mentors: Adwoa Boateng, Daniela Chavez

  • Sheltering Angels

    We were five women from the Colorado Womenʼs College (CWC) with different ideas on how to help women in our community, united by the common goal of improving womenʼs reproductive health. During our sophomore year at CWC, we started a yearlong project called Partners in Community Service with the intent for it to continue beyond one year. We explored what being a woman meant to us and identified issues that had impacted us as women to find a singular focus for our efforts. Interestingly, we discovered that regardless of our diverse backgrounds, we all had to figure out our menstrual cycles on our own. Our community partner, Servicios de la Raza, was impactful in the Denver community but lacked services specifically for women. Working with them, we developed the idea of providing pamphlets and goodie bags that included menstrual products and resources for women.

    Students behind the project: Lucy Bittel, Camila Diaz, Jada Mercer, Brittania Sinclair, Elitzy Avila

    Project Mentors: Trisha Teig

  • Classical Guitar Modern Technique

    In Honduras, access to internationally standardized musical education was limited. For decades, art had been underestimated, and resources invested in it were poor. As a Honduran artist with access to international quality education in the United States, I wanted to share valuable modern musical interpretation techniques required for international competitions and university applications, which were not taught in Honduras due to the scarcity of trained teachers. Therefore, I proposed a master class for classical guitar students in Tegucigalpa, where students could acquire knowledge of these techniques. My goal was to create new opportunities for Honduran students, enabling them to increase their chances of studying abroad and raising social interest in supporting art projects in our communities.

    Students behind the project: Antonio Bustillo

    Project Mentors: Kristen Park, Jonathan Leathwood

  • Booze Free Bingo

    In partnership with FREE Recovery Community, we organized a community event called “Booze-Free Bingo” to connect FREE’s existing members with new ones in the Denver area. The event provided a welcoming and enjoyable space with free food, games, and prizes. Our initiative aimed to destigmatize substance use disorders, recognizing stigma as a significant barrier for those seeking support and resources.

    We believed in highlighting the humanity of individuals impacted by substance use disorders and their allies by creating inclusive spaces where everyone could come together as equals. FREE had a strong network of members but sought to engage younger individuals. To meet this goal, we hosted a Bingo night at FREE, conveniently located near DU’s campus. The event featured free home-cooked meals from FREE’s community and self-care baskets as Bingo prizes.

    Students behind the project: Gavin Hood, Alexis Hoy, Iris Stanfill, Maddy Voit-Chromy

    Project Mentors: Trisha Teig

  • Address Errors: Systemic Injustice for Asylum Seekers

    Throughout the immigration court process, it's crucial for migrants to have accurate and updated addresses on file to receive essential information. Those without legal representation, a permanent address, or a clear understanding of the bureaucratic process face significant disadvantages.

    The project aimed to deepen understanding of the impact of address errors, building on existing research at the University of Denver concerning injustices within the immigration court system. The study combined quantitative data on incorrect addresses observed at the Denver Immigration Court with qualitative insights from interviews with legal representatives, court interpreters, and other stakeholders.

    Students behind the project: Ella Iveslatt

    Project Mentors: Rebecca Galemba

  • Keeping Girls in School

    This project aimed to support girls in staying in school by providing menstrual hygiene supplies. In Malawi, many girls were forced to stop attending school once they began menstruating due to lack of proper protection. The intervention provided reusable sanitary pads to these girls, enabling them to continue attending school even during menstruation.

    The project partnered with Seeds of Promise Ministry, which works with impoverished communities in Bingu Masanda Village, Mpingu, in the Lilongwe District. Seeds of Promise empowers youths through education and economically supports women by teaching skills such as sewing, farming, and entrepreneurship.

    Students behind the project: Alice Kanyama, Getrude Finyiza, Isabel Makwecha

    Project Mentors: Darin Stewart

  • OK2BX*DU Diversity Festival

    Our project expanded OK2BX, a nonprofit based in Dallas, TX, to DU and the Denver community. Our group provided a space where people of diverse identities and cultures came together to celebrate their respective backgrounds through arts such as film, food, literature, and music.

    Gary Orfield, co-director of the UCLA Civil Rights Project, noted that “there’s no doubt school segregation is increasing in terms of declining contact between African-American and Latino students and white students.” This space aimed to address the paradox Orfield highlighted: the existence of segregated inclusive groups that focus predominantly on specific identities.

    Our goal was to unite separate identity groups through mutual appreciation and empathy. We aimed to bridge gaps between different minority groups, allowing them to share their experiences and cultures, thereby expanding their communities and resources to other organizations with similar goals and experiences.

    Students behind the project: Malayna Betz, Aidan McNally, Luke Pettigrew, Owen Claymon, Brasen Marlin

    Project Mentors: Joe Walsh

  • Evaluating Trauma-Informed Design in a Mental Health Setting: A Community-Based Research Case Study

    Trauma-informed design (TiD) provides a framework to implement interior design practices that foster a welcoming and responsive space for individuals who have experienced trauma.

    While current research on TiD primarily focuses on educational and housing settings, this framework offers an opportunity to design therapeutic spaces that enriched the therapeutic process. Leveraging my position as a therapist within a private practice, I engaged in a community-based research case study to explore how TiD translated to therapy environments.

    Clients and staff participated in separate advisory boards and group meetings to learn about and evaluate TiD, and to identify needs for the new office space. The findings directly informed the interior design of the new office and served as a case study demonstrating TiD’s application in therapy spaces.

    Students behind the project: Marie Spence

    Project Mentors: Nick Cutforth

  • Writers in the Schools Community Outreach

    The Writers in the Schools Program cultivates a creative, intuitive, and dynamic learning experience for students across Denver schools through poetry, prose, and imagination. The program aimed to supplement materials that were not readily accessible in grade schools, enriching creative writing education. Rooted in the pedagogies of thinkers like Maria Montessori, June Jordan, and bell hooks, who championed intrinsic learning desires, the program expanded students’ knowledge beyond the classroom. It aimed to instill a lasting passion for art and creative writing in their daily lives. The program focused on finding joy in working with children, sharing literature, learning K-12 pedagogical models, and developing professional skills.

    Students behind the project: Lydia McCann, Maread McLaughlin, Hayley Sayre, Kansas Wood

    Project Mentors: Kelly Krumrie

  • Summer 2024: Community Advisory Board for Survey Development

    In 2023, the PI interviewed 16 community members from neighborhoods in Northern Indiana to understand how residents’ connections with each other changed their perceptions of their neighborhood (neighborhood disorder/decay) and city investment. Participants identified communication/awareness, social ties, and the impact of built environment(s) as areas needing further research.

    Building on the 2023 project, this expanded initiative aims to develop and distribute a quantitative survey. The PI will partner with a key community development corporation (CDC/neighborhood association) to form a Community Advisory Board (CAB) consisting of neighborhood residents. The CAB will co-create the survey instrument, distribution plan, and results dissemination plan to report back to the community. The CAB will meet three times during the summer of 2024, and the survey instrument is set to be distributed summer 2025.

    Students behind the project: Taylor Coats, Sarah Caldwell

    Project Mentors: Lisa Reyes-Mason

  • Summer 2024 : Perspective Shifting: Developing a participatory photovoice training to support professional quality of life through participatory engagement of healthcare workers in Nepal

    Centered on the Nepali healthcare community, this study seeks to discover local perspectives (and idioms) on (1) definitions of wellness, (2) experiences of burnout, (3) social determinants of mental wellbeing, and (4) culturally harmonious mental health training methods. A collaborative research team of DU students and Nepali community leaders will create an integrative wellness training informed by this local knowledge. While literature supports incorporating Photovoice (a participatory photography intervention) in mental health training in Nepal, we're uniquely positioned to make community-tailored adaptations to this method in pursuit of ethical best practice and efficacy. The process and analysis of semi-structured key-informant interviews will guide adapting Photovoice, building local capacity, and co-developing a training that is steeped in cultural context. Future plans involve implementing the culturally and linguistically grounded training at Scheer Memorial Adventist Hospital in Banepa, Nepal. The pilot study will be augmented through ongoing collaboration with IDP and GMHPSS Network.

    Students behind the project: Ali Argo, Lauren Skulina

    Project Mentors: Gwen Mitchell

  • Summer 2024: Educational Empowerment – Interactive Learning of Children's Rights with Performing Arts

    The project aims to utilize Performing Arts, specifically circus disciplines, to educate youth on the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Partnering with Girl Scouts Colorado, the goal is to adapt the successful framework of PlusSport, previously used in various projects and UN initiatives, into PlusPerformingArts. PlusSport involves using movement and athletic activities to enhance learning effectiveness and engagement.

    The project explores parallels between Sport and Performing Arts, leveraging the unique characteristics of Performing Arts to promote holistic child development and understanding of children's rights, incorporating physical movement and trust-building activities.

    Students behind the project: Lilith Diringer

    Project Mentors: Timothy Sisk

  • Summer 2024: Strengthening livelihoods and wellbeing of queer communities in Kurdistan, Iraq

    This project will adapt a Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) to strengthen safety and wellbeing of queer communities living in Kurdistan, Iraq. The participatory work will be conducted alongside a Kurdistan-based community agency called Psychologia and the Global MHPSS Network affiliated with DU. In partnership, a psychosocial peer support intervention, Doing What Matters in Times of Stress, will be adapted to facilitate community engagement, psychoeducation, and empowerment for queer communities. Intended impact will be strengthening knowledge and skills for coping with daily stressors of Kurdistan-based queer communities who face human rights abuses and safety issues related to their identities. The unique psychosocial needs of queer communities will be identified centered on the voices of queer communities’ lived experiences in Kurdistan. Practical psychosocial tools that promote grounding, stress management, and safe authentic expression will be developed through collaboration with Psychologia, queer community members, and the GMHPSS Network.

    Students behind the project: Yara Balouk

    Project Mentors: Maria Vukovich 

  • Summer 2024: Youth Voices in El Movimiento: Strengthening community partnership between DU and the History Colorado Museum, Area Libraries, and Archives (and other community based organization)

    Working with The History Colorado Museum, a group of faculty have been collaborating to develop Youth Voices in El Movimiento, a curricular initiative that is bringing students from twelve 2023-2024 and 2024-2025 undergraduate courses (several of which fulfill common curriculum requirements) into the work of collecting and curating oral histories with those who have been involved in El Movimiento of the Rocky Mountain West. The project gives students anti-racism training as well as opportunities to engage around topics that familiarize them with the histories that have shaped and continue to shape the contemporary region. The project also provides community leaders with a college student audience and an opportunity to have their stories amplified. As students work with faculty as well as staff from History Colorado Museum, they develop skills in collecting oral histories and reviewing archival materials, producing these materials into podcast and other forms for educational and public use while also enhancing their own commitment to community engagement.

    Students behind the project: Christian Chavez Balbuena, Jasmine Salgado Simental, Anahi (Mildred) Sanchez Corral, Kimberly Zamora Perez

    Project Mentors: Lina Reznicek-Parrado

  • Summer 2024: Impacts of Community Trauma Informed Training on Caregiver Stress, Child Emotional-Behavioral Regulation, and Caregiver-Child Relations in Grenada

    Caregiver-child maltreatment has been one of the leading causes of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) in Grenada (UNICEF Eastern Caribbean, 2017). Specifically, prior research shows residential housing, or group homes devoted to caring for children whose biological parents cannot, is negatively related to childrens’ overall emotional wellbeing (Desmond et al., 2020). Often, caregivers’ in residential settings are stressed due to an overwhelming caseload, which in turn might cause harsher discipline, like corporal punishment, towards children in residential settings (Deater-Deckard & Panneton, 2017; Orlando, 2020). Trauma-informed training increases one’s understanding of the impact of various discipline types on childrens’ developmental outcomes, as well as ways to manage stress when interacting with children (Champine et al., 2022). Thus, we aim to understand the implications of a six-week trauma-informed training on potentially 1) decreasing caregivers’ stress levels, 2) shaping childrens’ emotional/behavioral regulation, and 3) understanding caregiver-child relations at two residential care homes in Grenada.

    Students behind the project: Christina Dimova, Kaitlyn Reyes

    Project Mentors: Kamilah Legette

  • Summer 2024: Visible Voices: Amplifying Perspectives of Street Children in Nepal

    In collaboration with Voice of Children (VOC) in Kathmandu, Nepal, a reintegration center for children who have experienced abuse and homelessness, Visible Voices aims to use Photovoice to provide a medium and platform for the children to define and explore their own ideas regarding a central cultural question. During this project, children will work together to define their own central question. They will then explore individual answers to these questions using photography and discussions around central themes. Additionally, they will engage in advocacy and dissemination of their collaborative findings to key community "power brokers" through a Visible Voices exhibition. Visible Voices seeks to create a space for the children to engage in critical dialogue and use their collaborative expression skills while simultaneously supporting their confidence in self and public advocacy and increasing public knowledge of the community and the issues it faces.

    Students behind the project: Casey Kemper

    Project Mentors: Neena S Jain

  • Summer 2024: Exploring Factors that Buffer the Influence of Early Childhood Trauma on Maternal Self-Efficacy

    Childhood maltreatment and toxic stress pose significant risks to individuals and communities, perpetuating negative outcomes across generations through intergenerational trauma. Early intervention is crucial to disrupt this cycle by leveraging resilience and protective factors during the perinatal period. Prior research has supported that higher levels of benevolent childhood experiences and social support may enhance self-efficacy, potentially mitigating the effects of childhood trauma. This study, conducted at MotherWise Colorado, will entail data collection on both adverse and benevolent childhood experiences as well as social support, exploring the moderated relationship between trauma and maternal self-efficacy, particularly for low-income and minority women. Statistical analyses and subsequent results will inform clinical training within the organization via an informational workshop. This workshop is aimed at enhancing therapists' ability to support clients in the perinatal period by fostering their self-efficacy. By elucidating the roles of resilience, social support, and maternal self-efficacy, this study seeks to promote positive perinatal outcomes within the community.

    Students behind the project: Brigid Magdamo

    Project Mentors: Julia Roncoroni

  • Summer 2024: Quality Improvement of Empowerment Programming for Global Concerns India

    Our project is about empowering women who have experienced violence and abuse through an education-based, holistic healing, and community-engaged program. Combining psychoeducation about coping mechanisms and trauma utilizing yoga and mindfulness practices, we aim to empower 75 Kannada- and Tamil-speaking women in Bangalore, India aged 20-45, to practice body-mind-soul movement and techniques to promote physical, mental, psychological, and emotional well-being. We will pilot the program to assess its effectiveness, understand barriers to participation, and develop scale-up recommendations. We will use pre/post-interview surveys and focus group discussions over eight weeks. The first and the last week will be dedicated to pre/post QI assessments. The six weeks of integrated training and home-based exercises will be divided based on decolonized psychoeducational topics integrating a holistic approach and community engagement. We will create community support and engagement to develop a safe and nurturing environment that promotes healing and empowerment. We will be creating and evaluating a program that can be offered sustainably and impactfully for the wellbeing of women.

    Students behind the project: Pooja Mamadapalli, Diksha Shaileshkumar

    Project Mentors: Neena S Jain 

  • Summer 2024: The Invisible Consequences of FERM: Continuing Research Assessing Impacts and Outcomes on Families

    The purpose of this project is to inform my MPP capstone and expand on research conducted under Professor Galemba in a Qualitative Research Methods master’s course at Korbel, focusing on the Family Expedited Management (FERM) program, in coordination with the Colorado Asylum Center and Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network. Implemented an alternative to detention, FERM lacks sufficient research, and key stakeholders, such as immigration judges and attorneys in the Denver area, have limited knowledge of the process and struggle to locate families in FERM. This significantly impacts families, who must quickly secure housing, nourishment, and legal support while remaining largely invisible to potential helpers. These challenges hinder due process and lead to unjust family removals and unfair asylum hearings. By continuing this research for my MPP capstone, I aim to inform advocacy efforts to improve FERM by highlighting its inefficacy and its impact on fair hearings for families.

    Students behind the project: Kelly Nilan

    Project Mentors: Rebecca Galemba

  • Summer 2024: Using PGIS methods to understand locals’ perspectives on resource management and stewardship impacts in the Kenai River Watershed

    The Kenai River in Alaska faces declining populations of Chinook salmon, raising concerns about the sustainability of other fish species (especially sockeye salmon) as well as livelihoods that depend on healthy fisheries. While efforts by Alaska Fish and Game aim to address overfishing, these top-down regulations alone are insufficient for effective management and do not capture more informal local factors that shape interactions with the river. This study builds on previous research on management of common-pool resources (like fisheries) to explore local stakeholder dynamics and co-management practices using surveys, in-depth interviews, and participatory GIS. We aim to leverage Elinor Ostrom's Institutional Analysis and Development framework to identify attitudes, polycentric governance arrangements, and obstacles shaping river use beyond regulations as well as recent changes to those arrangements in response to ecological, climatic, cultural, and/or tourism-related factors. Ultimately, our study results will support the creation of data-driven, locally coherent strategies that our partner organizations on the Kenai Peninsula can use to promote long-term river sustainability.

    Students behind the project: Alexandra Van De Water

    Project Mentors: Hanson Nyantakyi-Frimpong

  • Summer 2024: EMDR Intensive Intervention Outcome Research

    The worsening mental health crisis in the U.S. has especially impacted LGBTQ adults, who have higher rates of mental health issues and trauma. Providers must increase familiarity and trust within this community to improve access to care. This project’s aims are to: 1) understand the facilitators and barriers experienced by LGBTQ adults in obtaining mental health treatment, and 2) evaluate the effectiveness of brief intensive EMDR treatment in improving clients’ quality of life. Staff therapists at Cairn Counseling, a mental health treatment center in Denver, CO, owned by DU GSSW graduate Kelly Klaine, will collaborate on every step of this project with the student researchers. Results will help reduce stigma and increase the community’s trust in mental health treatment. By connecting research with therapy practice, the community partner is hoping to document the effectiveness of EMDR for their LGBTQ clients. These results will help their effort to increase access to their services within the community.

    Students behind the project: Keiko Yoneyama Sims

    Project Mentors: Jennifer Greenfield

  • Summer 2024: Nurturing Valverde: Gardens and Green Initiatives in West Denver

    We present two initiatives to improve the well-being of West Denver’s Valverde Neighborhood. First, the "Gals Who Garden" (GWG) project aims to tackle food insecurity by building a community garden and establishing a paid work-study program for and at the Florence Crittenton High School (FloCrit) campus. Our project will gather and analyze community feedback, especially from the adolescent moms at FloCrit, to understand their preferences so they can be incorporated during the garden’s construction. Second, the Alameda Corridor Tree Advocacy Project aims to improve the environmental beauty and health of the Valverde community by campaigning to plant trees along Alameda Avenue. In collaboration with community advocate Evon Lopez, we will start an electronic letter campaign using sites such as JotForm or Action Network to collect support. Through these projects, we hope to increase community engagement and contribute to the development of sustainable and resilient neighborhoods in West Denver.

    Students behind the project: Avery Young

    Project Mentors: Cara DiEnno

  • Summer 2024: School-Based Poultry Farming at Chilida High School, Mzimba District, Malawi

    This proposal outlines an innovative project aimed at establishing a school-based poultry farming initiative at Chilida High School in Mzimba District, Malawi. The primary objectives of this initiative are twofold: to address the pressing issue of food insecurity within the community and to provide students with practical agricultural education. By fostering a strong community partnership with local agricultural experts, the project aims to enhance student learning through hands-on experience, promote sustainable agriculture practices, and contribute to the local economy.

    Food insecurity is a significant challenge in Mzimba District, where many families struggle to access sufficient and nutritious food. This situation is exacerbated by factors such as low agricultural productivity, poor soil quality, unpredictable weather patterns, and a lack of access to modern farming techniques. As a result, malnutrition and related health issues are common, particularly among children and adolescents, who are especially vulnerable to the detrimental effects of inadequate nutrition. Addressing food insecurity is, therefore, a critical priority for the community.

    Students behind the project: Nebert Kamoto

    Project Mentors: Thomas Walker

  • Summer 2024: Youth Voices in El Movimiento: Strengthening community partnerships between DU and The History Colorado Museum, Area Libraries, and Archives

    This project is part of the Youth Voices in El Movimiento initiative, a curricular partnership between History Colorado and a group of DU faculty (including Professor Escobedo), to collect and curate archival sources and oral histories with those involved in El Movimiento of the Rocky Mountain West. My specific student research angle will focus on the history of Latinas and the reproductive justice movement in Colorado, with an emphasis on the history and founding of the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR). This project will provide community leaders within the reproductive justice movement with support in unearthing and sharing their histories, amplifying their stories with a wider audience. In working on this project, I will develop skills in collecting oral histories, reviewing and analyzing archival materials, and developing curricular and public-facing historical materials that highlight the history of El Movimiento and the reproductive rights and justice movement.

    Students behind the project: Erika Leon

    Project Mentors: Elizabeth Escobedo

  • Summer 2024: Co-op Design and Community Building

    Our project, in partnership with the Center for Community Wealth Building, aims to enhance economic resilience and inclusivity within our community by engaging with local businesses in comprehensive and open discussions. We will work closely with diverse local businesses to evaluate their operational strengths, challenges, and potential for cooperative development. Our primary objective is to identify local businesses with the capacity and interest to transition to or form cooperatives through which we hope to foster a collaborative economic environment in our community. Through establishing relationships with our local businesses, we will explore the feasibility and desire of establishing a Co-op Council. This council would serve as a hub for resources and promote the use of sustainable and cooperative business practices. Our project aims to empower local businesses with cooperative structures and to create a more inclusive and prosperous local economy.

    Students behind the project: Jacob Tonozzi and Soffy Anderson

    Project Mentors: Paul Kosempel

  • Summer 2024: Community and Cooking With Ruby's Market

    Working with local community caregiver and businesswoman Michelle Lasnier, Community and Cooking With Ruby’s Market provides funding through the ACE Grant Program to support the research and procurement of cultural foods for Denver food insecure populations. This funding will go to Ruby’s Market where emergency supplies are collected and donated to local refugee families through “Newcomer Welcome Bags.” The Pantry emphasizes culturally appropriate food welcome bags so that refugee families can make choices about what they eat and choices that align with their cultural practices. This project aims to enhance the inclusivity and effectiveness of Newcomer Welcome Bags by integrating culturally diverse items that reflect the varied backgrounds of our community members. This includes expanding the bags to include a variety of Latin American countries such as Venezuela and Guatemala. To ensure these efforts reach the widest audience, we will also revamp Ruby’s Market’s digital presence.

    Students behind the project: Wren Pratt Phillips and Soffy Anderson

    Project Mentors: Julia Senecal

  • Summer 2024: Immigrant and Refugee CNA Workforce Development Initiative

    In collaboration with the Wezesha Dada Center,  Sandra Lin will support programming for immigrant women. The Immigrant and Refugee CNA Workforce Development Initiative will provide minority women with the opportunity to develop skills that will help them enter the competitive workforce with the credentials necessary to work as CNAs in Colorado. Immigrant women often face challenges include language barriers, complex certification processes, financial constraints, cultural differences, limited professional networks, and legal/immigration issues. The Immigrant and Refugee CNA Workforce Development Initiative provides support and offers solutions to such problems. The initiative includes language training, certification support, financial support, mentoring, community engagement, childcare, transportation, flexible scheduling, housing referrals, and post-program guidance.

    Students behind the project: Sandra Lin

    Project Mentors: Madelin Risch

2022-2023 Funded Projects

Click "+" to expand and view. 

  • The Power of Youth Artivism

    Through this project, The Power of Youth Artivism, students at DSST: Byers Middle and High School used theatre, social-emotional activities, and Pedagogy of the Oppressed methodologies to explore the changing perceptions of LBGTQ+ people over time. Students participated in healthy, constructive, and supportive conversations that explored queerness and effective allyship. At the end of April, they performed She Kills Monsters: Young Adventurers Edition and featured a lobby exhibit to highlight their collective research and one student’s interview-based play which explored queerness and trans identities.

    Students behind the project: Maddie Heiken

  • Writers in the Schools Community Outreach

    The Writers in the Schools Program seeks to cultivate a creative, intuitive, and dynamic learning experience for all students through the implementation of poetry, prose, and imagination throughout Denver schools. The Program expanded the learning of creative writing by supplementing materials that may not be accessible to grade schools. The program aimed to expand students’ knowledge in the classroom carry the excitement of art and creative writing into their everyday lives. Through the Writers in the Schools Program, English students found joy in working with children, sharing their love of literature, learning K-12 pedagogical models, and practicing “professional development skills” in an authentic manner.

    Students behind the project: Lydia McCann, Hayley Sayre, Mario Da Silva Melo

  • Reported School Climate for Diversity and Feelings of Belonging for Latinx Students: Moderation of Feelings of Belonging by Parent’s Academic Aspirations and Expectations

    The purpose of this study was to examine associations between teachers’ perceptions of school climate and third through fifth grade Latinx children’s school belonging. Previous research investigating Latinx students’ feelings of belonging and associations with school climate had focused on adolescent populations. This study aimed to extend the literature by investigating these associations with children in middle childhood. The development of feelings of belonging for children start very early on in education. In aiming to understand the school climate and feelings of belonging at a critical age for development and socialization, intervention gaps can be identified specific to elementary aged Latinx students. 

    Students behind the project: Lydia McCann, Hayley Sayre, Mario Da Silva Melo

  • Health Outreach of Latin America Volunteer Trip

    HOLA is a Denver-based nonprofit that provides vertically integrated health care systems in rural communities of Latin America. This particular trip with the DU Chapter occurred during the spring break (March 18th- March 26th, 2023) at Managua, Nicaragua. During the trip, students shadowed local obstetricians and gynecologists in operating rooms and various wards. Students conducted some public health work relating to the provision of resources for women in their postpartum period. Students were also involved with research designed to lower counts of unintended teen pregnancies in the communities.

    Students behind the project: Naya Ogbonna-Ukuku

  • Pollution Solution

    This project addressed the issue of climate change by providing young students with access to the outdoors and environmental education. By bringing students of all backgrounds and identities together in an outdoor experience that is not only exciting but also informative, this program hoped to instill a passion for the environment in young students that will drive them to take action in the future. By working with community partners at two of Denver’s public schools, Cole Arts and Science Academy and Garden Place Academy, students designed a program to address the gaps in environmental education. The program's goal was to take students out into nature and run classroom-based learning sessions twice during the month of April. These sessions consisted of fun activities as well as informational segments to both engage and teach students about the issues of climate change and its effects on the world around them. This project blended research, creative work, and community impact with a focus on the impact students can have on young people’s interests in the natural world as a way of combating climate change. An outcome was an entirely new curriculum based on creative activities, field trips, and hands-on education for elementary school students to compel them to be conscious of our planet’s health. 

    Students behind the project: Annabelle Kiely, Loklin Nord, Brady Rogers, Madelyn Kavalieros, Jacob Hughes, Kabe Aberle

  • Enhancing Equitable Community Listening

    You be You Early Learning (YbY)–Colorado’s first and only nonprofit mobile preschool and teacher-led cooperative–seeks to formalize and strengthen their early childhood program to meet the diverse needs of students and families by enhancing organizational approaches to effective community listening. Via a community-based research approach, PhD C&I student, Kristopher Tetzlaff, collaborated with co-investigators to design an evidence-based photovoice/video annotation protocol embedded into routine instruction. In so doing, YbY staff (1) gleaned the perceptions of young children vis-à-vis YbY’s pedagogical practices; (2) ascertained programmatic assets; and (3) identified/addressed pedagogical gaps to advance the efficacy of their program. Additionally, the research collective operationalized humanizing conceptual frameworks to (1) facilitate capacity-building; (2) democratize knowledge, resources, and decision-making processes; (3) co-create a research tool for teachers of young children; (4) learn how to effectively employ said tool; and (5) collectively analyze, report, and disseminate data and findings to advance educational equity while enhancing their praxis.

    Students behind the project: Kristopher Tetzlaff

  • Addressing the Nature Gap for DEI Students

    A group of students created a program for schools in lower-socioeconomic areas to earn the National Wildlife Federation Certification in an effort to bridge the "Nature Gap," a phenomenon wherein underrepresented students have less access to outdoor education opportunities. The program taught the students about environmental science and involved activities to help them pursue sustainable practices and understand ecosystems. As part of the grant, the students implemented the curriculum they developed at Highline Academy and Monarch Montessori at Denver in April.

    Students behind the project: Alisha Pravasi, Zeyta Whitson-Deherrera, Kate Courtney, Logan Simson, and Maite Montes Gonzalez

  • Are Placed-Based Storytelling Tours an Effective Way to Combat the Effects of Redlining? Case Study in Valverde, Denver, Colorado.

    Academic literature has extensively documented the effects redlining has on climate resilience. The Valverde Neighborhood is a historically redlined neighborhood. The legacy of redlining is still felt and seen in Valverde today. To combat environmental impacts caused by redlining, transformative research methods like ’Toxic Tours’ have been used to 1) explore practices that restore or establish people’s connections to places and 2) inspire actionable responses to the crisis at hand. However, ’Toxic Tours’ perpetuates a damage and deficit-based narrative of communities. The literature lacks regenerative and desire-based models to tell stories that both name harms, recognize resilience and desire within neighborhoods. This project is a place-base storytelling tour in Valverde which hopes to be a transformative research method to combat the impact of redlining. This project includes a steering committee to co-create the tour, Valverde residents to record their own stories, a pilot tour, and a focus group. The follow-up focus group will help evaluate if place-based storytelling can increase connections and motivation to reverse environmental impacts caused by redlining.

    Students behind the project: Jenna Wyatt

  • The Right Foot Project

    The Right Foot Project aims to help every Thomas Jefferson High School student achieve their goals, starting with the SAT. The SAT can arguably determine what university the student will be able to attend. For an exam so essential to their futures, every student should be able to take the SAT feeling confident. However, there are many things that could be going on in a student's life outside of Thomas Jefferson High School that prevent them from being able to face their exams feeling prepared.

    Allowing students to start off on the same foot nutritionally can help to boost scores alone. The Right Foot Project provided all students taking the PSAT and SAT at Thomas Jefferson High School with a warm, calorie-dense, and nutritious breakfast. The next step was to connect the students with The Conscious Alliance, a national nonprofit that brings healthy food to underserved communities, to ensure that the project is a sustainable support to the school and community. The Conscious Alliance will help to stock the school's food pantry with healthy and nutritious food to ensure that all students can always start off their day on the right foot. 

    Students behind the project: Soffy Anderson, Lauren Butler, Sergio Sandoval, Cade Palmer

  • Sustainable Tourism Becomes Interactive

    This project developed an educational workshop about sustainable travel. A group of Girl Scouts grade 6-12 was coached to generate a concept including physical and digital material for teaching kids how sustainability and tourism interact. The team members learned about SDGs, received insights into how to plan and book a sustainable trip, and learned how they can become a Changemaker to achieve a healthy interaction between tourists and the environment. They learned educational and leadership skills while developing an interactive workshop to educate younger kids. 

    Students behind the project: Lilith Diringer

  • Youth Organizing

    Youth Organizing is a youth civic engagement initiative in which young people address a social justice issue based on the principles of community organizing. Supported by the CCESL Student Programs Manager, a team of CCESL scholars and Community-engaged Fellows served as coaches and worked closely with a group of high school students from one of CCESL's partner schools to identify social justice issues that students cared about within their school and community.

    Students behind the project: Will Sciepko, Brandon Arneson, Daniela Chavez

  • Ricks' Sustainability Engagement

    In the United States, sustainability education is not consistently taught in the classroom. This is also the case in Denver Public Schools. Students collaborated with Ricks Center for the Gifted to develop an after-school sustainability club for this purpose. This project focused on two research questions: How can a team of undergraduate students create meaningful partnerships based in regenerative practices with a K-12 school within their local community? and How could said team of undergraduate students use the experiences of working with K-12 students to broaden their own understandings of regenerative practices?

    Working specifically with Preschool-8th grade level children who are particularly interested in after-school work, these students brought weekly hands-on activities to meet the needs of diverse students. They developed the curriculum in direct partnership with the host teacher as well as the students themselves in order to foster sustainably minded community members.

    Students behind the project: Melissa Kreppein, Soffy Anderson

  • Sand Creek Regional Greenway Project

    The Sand Creek Regional Greenway Project aims to create equitable access to the greenway throughout surrounding communities. By connecting people to the diverse habitats, cities, and communities along the greenway, the project aims to improve community health, environmental awareness and promote curiosity. The project entailed collecting feedback from the community to contribute to research. This was done by organizing materials for community engagement activities. At the end of the project, there was a final report to analyze feedback from community members surrounding Sand Creek with the final report including supporting factors and barriers that surround accessing the greenway.

    Students behind the project: Ella Williamson

  • DU-Westminster STEM Mentoring Collaboration

    The University of Denver (DU) collaboration with Westminster High School is a near-peer mentoring program for students interested in STEM and their biomedical capstone course. The aim of this collaborative program was to encourage high school seniors to pursue STEM careers after graduation. The proposed project set out to discover how STEM mentoring by DU students has impacted the lives of the mentees from Westminster High School. Surveys were distributed weekly to gain mentee feedback. Quantitative analysis of their answers was used to identify major themes and capture the significance of the mentoring program to help future DU students mentor the Westminster High School students more efficiently, better prepare them for college, and help them get more out of the program.

    Students behind the project: Seraphina Loukas

  • Food Pantry Community Outreach

    Students worked to broaden the scope of the DU food pantry to reach more DU community members and expand the food pantry to provide organic foods from local sources. 

    Students behind the project: Nick Greenspan

  • Sand Creek Greenway Equitable Engagement Project

    The goal of this project was to inform comprehensive, equity decision-making that ultimately leads to a reduction of the barriers faced by historically underserved populations. Additionally, this aimed to increase the use of the Greenway and participation in Sand Creek Regional Greenway Project programs by ensuring equitable delivery of resources and benefits of the Greenway. The project team performed comprehensive data collection to determine where these underserved populations are and conducted a literature review to determine how to best approach and involve these communities in the process of revitalizing the Sand Creek Regional Greenway for their use.

    Students behind the project: Eli Zehe

  • Youth Organizing Addressing Mental Health for Students

    The students at Dr. Martin Luther King Early College have decided to address the lack of equitable mental health resources and guidance within their school and create a more sustainable form cultivating a safe mental health environment for upcoming students.

    Students behind the project: Daniela Chavez

  • The Valverde Movement Project

    The Valverde Movement Project is a collaboration of the Valverde Neighborhood Association, city and regional government, university researchers, and non-profit organizations who are all striving to expand community health and wealth in Valverde through investing in transportation and street safety. Through this project, students are working to identify priority needs by conducting community meetings and creating an interactive "story map" of the Valverde Neighborhood to provide policymakers and planners a better understanding of this culturally rich neighborhood. They are also working to establish career pathways for people from under-resourced communities by ensuring that green jobs provide livable wages and benefits from employers.

    Students behind the project: Maria Roth

  • The Stories of Valverde

    This project involved transcribing, analyzing, and producing public-facing materials from the story cards gathered after the Ulibarri Park Naming Celebration and identifying common themes to gain a deeper understanding of the characteristics that the residents value in their community. From this, public-facing materials were created to allow people across Denver to see and read the stories of Valverde residents. These efforts helped convey the residents' collective desires and the changes they sought.

    Being part of this project advanced Jocelyn's scholarly development, teaching her extensive qualitative research methods and effective public communication. She deepened her understanding of community dynamics, involvement, and the importance of resident feedback in fostering stronger, united communities.

    Students behind the project: Jocelyn Buenrostro

    Project mentor: Cara DiEnno

  • Documenting the Past, Fostering the Future: Youth Voices in El Movimiento and the Struggle for Racial Justice along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountain West

    The project Documenting the Past, Fostering the Future (DPFF) is an initiative to develop curriculum for over 14 scholars regarding social justice movements in the Front Range Rocky Mountain West region and throughout Colorado. This will be accomplished by supporting classes with a focus on racial justice movements through the creation of lesson plans and assignments. The project focused on how youth have impacted social justice movements through recovering and documenting archival materials, with an emphasis on the importance of visual and oral histories. The research focused on El Movimiento in the 1960s in order to bring to light how the local Chicano movement played a role in the development of identity and El Movimiento. At the end of this project, the content was disseminated to the public through other Colorado educators and web-based resources such as a podcast series.

    Students behind the project: Quisi Rodriguez-Oregel, Linh Nguyen, Helena Bolle  

    Project mentor: Esteban Gomez

  • Youth Voices in El Movimiento: Strengthening Community Partnerships between DU and Community Partners Serving Local Spanish-Speaking Communities

    In collaboration with several community partners, a group of faculty and Dr. Lina Reznicek-Parrado developed "Youth Voices in El Movimiento," a curricular initiative. This project involved students from twelve undergraduate courses during the 2023-2024 and 2024-2025 academic years, including several courses fulfilling common curriculum requirements. The initiative engaged students in collecting and curating oral histories from individuals involved in El Movimiento of the Rocky Mountain West. It provided students with anti-racism training and opportunities to explore the region's historical influences. Additionally, it offered community leaders a platform to share and amplify their stories with college students. As part of this collaboration, students continued internships started in the spring, aiding faculty in maintaining and strengthening relationships with key community partners for the 2023-2025 initiative.

    Students behind the project: Ainhoa Calderon, Daisy Hernandez, Mina Khadem, Mildred Anahi Sanchez Corral, Isaac Troxler, Alexandra Terrazas, 

    Project mentor: Lina Reznicek-Parrado

  • A Leer Más Cuentos at the Denver Public Library

    A Leer Más Cuentos" presented a selection of classic short stories translated into Spanish for the Denver Public Library, with live performances featured during Hispanic Heritage Month at the library and online. Manuel Calvillo de la Garza, a current PhD student in English and Literary Arts, selected and translated a weekly series of short stories into modern Spanish, published on, a site known for publishing fiction translations for years. The stories ranged from murder mysteries to sci-fi by authors such as Oscar Wilde, Ray Bradbury, Agatha Christie, and many more. The translations and live readings created a space for individuals in the US who are not fluent in English to enjoy these classic pieces of literature and encouraged bilingual speakers to use their skills.

    Students behind the project: Manuel Calvillo de la Garza

    Project mentor: Joanna Howard

  • Impact of the Friends of the Children of El Salvador charity on Student's Education

    This project examined the impact of the charity, Friends Against the Children of El Salvador (FOCES), in improving the prospects of future wellbeing for its direct beneficiaries and their families. Extreme poverty and gang violence in rural El Salvador prevented many children and adolescents from attending school, fueling migration and leading to a displaced, uneducated community without the means to grow. FOCES sought to combat these obstacles with their scholarship program, aiding children and their families with educational expenses. To complete this project, I traveled to El Salvador with FOCES to observe their work firsthand. I interviewed both current and former students about their education levels compared to those of typical individuals in their community. Finally, I summarized my findings in a digital portfolio, which was also published on FOCES’s website to demonstrate the tangible impact of their work.

    Students behind the project: Pascale Correa-Bruzzese

    Project mentor: Zulema Lopez

  • Health Outreach for Latin America, Summer Volunteer Opportunity

    This project provided students with clinical experience and research and leadership opportunities. Health Outreach for Latin America (HOLA), a Denver-based nonprofit, facilitated the project by supporting healthcare and veterinary work in rural communities in Nicaragua.

    Students behind the project: Aaryn David

    Project mentor: Nancy Lorenzon

  • Mutual Benefits of Near-peer Mentorship in STEM Postsecondary and Career Development

    Students behind the project: Naichen Zhao

    Project mentor: Barb Hurtt

2021-2022 Funded Projects

Click "+" to expand and view. 

  • Amplifying Youth Through Art

    Through this project, Amplifying Youth Through Art (AYTA), this student encouraged youth at Aurora Public Schools (APS) and Denver Public Schools (DPS) to talk about issues affecting them using artistic outlets such as photovoice and theatrical performance. AYTA uses art activism to embolden youth to realize their voice matters in social movements and their communities while also cultivating a space based on trust and respect. At the end of the academic year, students shared their photovoice images and performance with community members. 

    Students behind the project: Maddie Heiken

  • Valverde Movement Project

    As a part of the larger ongoing Valverde Movement Project, this student collaborated with the Valverde community members to gather stories, oral histories, and archival documents to highlight their individual stories which has been key to combating the false narratives that often result from suppressing marginalized communities such as Valverde. This collection was presented to the community in June and sent to media outlets to uplift the history and voices of Valverde. View Video

    Students behind the project: Brandon T

  • Earth Day of DUing Video & Reflection

    Earth Day of DUing is an event organized by the University of Denver and the Center for Sustainability that brings volunteers together to work on sustainability projects on campus and throughout the greater Denver metropolitan area. To inform people of the impacts that small scale actions can have and inspire others to take similar action outside of Earth Day, two students went from site to site documenting these projects and interviewing volunteers which then appeared as a short film. 

    Students behind the project: Lydia Bazikos, Alexa Fontes

  • Addressing Admissions Inequality in the University of Colorado System for Low-Income Students

    This project addressed inequitable admissions processes in the University of Colorado (CU) system. It focused on the low enrollment rates of low-income students in the system. Compared to public universities in other states, the CU system enrolls far fewer low-income students on average, which contributes to stagnation and generational poverty by severely limiting the educational and economic opportunities of Colorodans in impoverished communities. The students examined data from the Colorado Department of Higher Education, such as percentages of enrolled students who are Pell Grant recipients and/or come from families with combined incomes below the poverty line, to determine the extent of this disparity. Via interviews with staff and students at CU - Boulder, the system’s flagship institution, they identified the enrollment barriers low-income students face and the types of support or interventions that make college more accessible. Through this data, they evaluated the effects of low enrollment rates on the educational and economic outcomes of low-income students, which in turn, will help understand how these issues should be approached through policy solutions. 

    Students behind the project: Eli Soss, Alex Thai

  • Food Bank Partnership

    Students partnered with Hunger Free Colorado, We Don't Waste and The DU Food Pantry to build connection and strength between these three organizations. The goal was to reduce the stigma around food assistance and encourage increased use of resources like SNAPP and the DU campus food bank. They accomplished these goals by organizing two on-campus events with these community partners. They then shared this project's outcomes and final report with their community partners by inviting them to a final presentation. The report contains analytical data and statistics such as the total number of applicants from the SNAPP awareness and application event and the percentage increase of DU's food pantry uses. 

    Students behind the project: Hillary Boakye, Ariana Cuevas, Camiya Ibanez, Anahi Mendivil

  • StrivePrep Sustainability Education

    CCESL Scholar Students created and delivered culturally responsive sustainability curriculum to middle school students at STRIVE Prep Rise, a charter school within DPS with a diverse student body. Normally, sustainability education isn't prioritized, but through this project they were able to teach students about food deserts and other environmental issues who otherwise wouldn't have access to this education.  

    Students behind the project: Sarah Schuller, Megan Holiday

  • Black History Tomorrow

    Black History Tomorrow was a month-long project celebrating Black History Month in 2022. The intent was to use Black History Month as an opportunity to give a voice and platform to the creatives who will be the most instrumental to the creation of our future yet have the leastprivilege. As part of the project. there was a professional development workshop and gallery opening/poetry slam on the topic of Afrofuturism. In the 2nd weekend of January 2022, there was a youth art, photography, and poetry workshop that taught emerging Denver artists of color between the ages of 15-17 about Afrofuturism and gave them the opportunity to imagine and depict how they would like to construct their future. During the month of February, the project hosted a gallery exhibit in the Community Commons’ Student Gallery with the art that was developed in the workshop. The gallery opening event in February 2022 also served as a poetry slam for the students who chose to write poems in the workshop. 

    Students behind the project: Bertrand Evans-Taylor

  • Learning from the Sunrise Movement

    In addressing the current climate crisis, youth will have a pivotal and important impact on both current and future action. Youth today will also be disproportionately impacted by climate change. The Sunrise Movement is a youth led movement aiming to enact social change addressing the climate crisis. student scholars established a relationship with the local Denver chapter of the Sunrise Movement. They first attended local meetings and engaged with the community. Through this relationship, they created a partnership that enabled them to participate in the DU Center for Sustainability's Earth Week event. 

    Students behind the project: Alicen King, Zach Harker