Collective Impact Cohorts

DU Grand Challenges is grounded in a collective impact framework. The DUGC Collective Impact Cohorts were formed as a direct response to the aspirations we co-identified with community and university stakeholders to improve daily living, increase economic opportunity, and advance deliberation and action for the public good. Through a structured, facilitated collective impact process, Cohorts identify shared aspirations and carry out initiatives that spark change. 

Cohorts are comprised of community members, faculty, staff and students. Community members are from government and community-based agencies. Each Cohort is supported by a facilitator trained in collective impact processes and approaches. 


Current Cohorts

  • Food Justice Collective Impact Cohort

    In AY 2024-2025, a new Cohort will begin work on the issue of food justice. Food Justice addresses the immediate food access needs of communities as well as the institutions and systems that perpetuate food waste, unequal distribution of food, and poor treatment of food workers all along the production chain. Food Justice efforts support people's rights to grow, sell, and eat fresh, nutritious, affordable, culturally meaningful food. This cohort was made possible with generous funding from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations.  

    This cohort is currently accepting new members. Follow the link below to learn more:

    Learn More & Apply

  • Mental Health & Wellness Collaborative

    The DU Mental Health and Wellness Collaborative (the “Collaborative”) is an inter-professional initiative that incorporates broad faculty, community, and student input to more effectively address mental health service delivery, workforce development, and research for Colorado and beyond. The Collaborative is partnering with Thriving Families to provide support to women, babies, and families during the transition to parenthood.

    The Collaborative is currently not accepting new members at this time. 

  • Costs of Campus Sexual Assault

    This Cohort brings undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and community partners together address the economic costs of campus sexual assault. The Cohort is currently accepting new undergraduate student members. We are grateful that this Cohort was made possible with generous funding from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations.  

    This cohort is currently not accepting new members at this time. 


Community-engaged scholarship is at the core of our collective impact approach. Each cohort received support to develop and implement specific actions that result in a collective impact. Cohort participants and leaders commit to two years of service.

In addition to specific project actions, participants also identify and connect with other campus and community members who are working to solve similar issues to build distributed networks that will continue to seed new work. Cohorts balance new projects while continuing to discover needs and explore new solutions.


Cohorts receive several forms of support to accomplish their work, including:

  • A Facilitator
  • Training/ leadership development
  • Backbone support from CCESL
  • Project management tools
  • Evaluations

DU Grand Challenges has a deliberate mission to affect positive change. By combining existing resources and with new initiatives, together, we can take on the world’s most pressing challenges.

Past Cohorts

  • Education Equity & Justice

    In February 2023, DU Grand Challenges–with support from the Center for Community Engagement to advance Scholarship and Learning (CCESL), the Institute for the Study of (in)Equality (IRISE), and the Office of Public Good Strategy and Research–launched a collective impact cohort whose focus was educational equity and justice in Denver Public Schools (DPS). The cohort included the seven elected members of the DPS Board of Education and seven faculty and staff members from the University of Denver. Over the course of three months, the cohort defined a vision statement, identified indicators, collected and analyzed existing data and root causes, and brainstormed strategies to improve indicator data. The cohort’s work culminated in the creation of five strategy proposals addressing aspects of educational equity and justice in DPS.

The cohorts below were the first four established thanks to funding from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations to address an issue that is central to improving daily living, one of the three DU Grand Challenges issue areas: Crime & Safety; Migration; Just Sustainability in an Urban Environment; Housing and Food Insecurity.