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 around the theme of Improving Daily Living. This initiative unites diverse entities (e.g., departments at DU or agencies across Denver) in a way that supports the collective good. Through a structured, facilitated collective impact process, we carry out initiatives that spark systematic positive change.

Cohorts are comprised of community members, faculty, staff and students. Community members are from government, non-government and/or private sector agencies. Each group has two DU Faculty Leads and, as detailed below, a facilitator trained in collective impact processes and approaches.


Current Cohorts

  • 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. 


    - Anne DePrince, Associate Vice Provost for Public Good Strategy and Research | Center for Community Engagement
    - Jenn Bellamy, Research Associate Dean and Professor | Graduate School of Social Work
    - Laurel Johnson (Thriving Families), WiseWellness Clinician/Facilitator | Thriving Families
    - Angela Narayan, Associate Professor | Department of Psychology
    - Miriam Valdovinos, Associate Professor | Graduate School of Social Work
    - Tawney Wingo (Thriving Families), Childcare Provider/ Family Support Coordinator | Thriving Families
    - John Holmberg, Research Associate Professor | Graduate School of Professional Psychology

  • Education Equity & Justice Cohort

    A new Collective Impact Cohort that is a partnership between Denver Public Schools (DPS) and the University of Denver (DU). The Education Equity & Justice Cohort is currently not accepting new members at this time. 

    Cohort Members:

    • Maria Salazar, Professor, Curriculum & Instruction, Morgridge College of Education  

    • Kamilah Legette, Assistant Professor, Psychology, College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences  

    • Brad Benz, Teaching Professor, University Writing Program, Academic Affairs 

    • William Anderson, Clinical Assistant Professor, Teaching & Learning Sciences Department, Morgridge College of Education; Teacher Education Program Coordinator 

    • Linda Quintanar, Director FIRST@DU 

    • Luke Wachter, Associate Director, Educational Initiatives, The Newman Center for the Performing Arts  

    • Scott Baldermann, District 1, Denver Public School Board Member 

    • Xochitl Gaytán, District 2, Denver Public School Board Member 

    • Carrie A. Olson, District 3, Denver Public School Board Member; Visiting Assistant Professor of Practice, Morgridge College of Education 

    • Michelle Quattlebaum, District 4, Denver Public School Board Member 

    • Charmaine Lindsay, District 5, Denver Public School Board Member 

    • Auon'tai M. Anderson, At Large, Denver Public School Board Member 

    • Scott Esserman, At Large, Denver Public School Board Member 

    Cohort Facilitators:

    • Cara Marie DiEnno, Executive Director, Center for Community Engagement to advance Scholarship and Learning 

    • Marinka Swift, Associate Director, Interdisciplinary Research Institute for the Study of (in)Equality 

    • John Macikas, Student Programs Manager, Center for Community Engagement to advance Scholarship and Learning 

    Additional DU Support:

    • Anne DePrince, Associate Vice Provost, Public Good Strategy & Research; Professor, Psychology 

    • Tom I. Romero, Director, Interdisciplinary Research Institute for the Study of (in)Equality; Associate Professor, Sturm College of Law; Affiliated Faculty, History 

    • Anna Antoniou, Associate Director, Center for Community Engagement to advance Scholarship and Learning 

sleeping bags in a trunk

Past Cohorts

The first four Cohorts were established 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.

Although DU Grand Challenges funding for these four cohorts concluded by the end of 2021, many of the projects initiated through the cohorts catalyzed ongoing initiatives and projects that continue to collaboratively address Grand Challenges in the Denver region.


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.