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Tackling Grand Challenges: DU Grand Challenges by the Numbers

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By: Katie Kleinhesselink, Associate Director, CCESL

Article  •

Thanks to a generous grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations (AVDF), DU Grand Challenges (DUGC) has built and greatly expanded a campus-wide program suite that intertwines community engagement, collaborative problem-solving, and undergraduate student development to improve daily living, increase economic opportunity, and advance deliberation and action for the public good.  

In a year that by all intents and purposes should have been a wash, AVDF funding allowed DUGC to: 

  • Support 95 DUGC Student Scholars representing 39 disciplines in developing and implementing social justice action plans, a 296% increase over AY 19-20 

  • Engage 301 campus and community members, almost a third of whom were students, in DUGC Forums that inspired conversation on collaborative action to advance deliberation and action for the public good, a 20% increase over AY 19-20 

  • Provide professional development to almost 100 faculty members from across campus on community-engaged pedagogy and other high impact practices 

  • Award almost $45,000 in ACE Grant funds to support 13 faculty-mentored community-engaged research projects involving 38 undergraduate students and 19 community partners, a 12% increase over AY 19-20 

The numbers, of course, tell only a portion of the story. Here’s what students have to say about their participation in DUGC programs: 

“Through this experience, I witnessed the efficacy of community-centered solutions and gained an understanding of the power of collaboration. These are insights that I will take with me as I pursue medical school and the path to becoming a physician.”  – DUGC Student Scholar   

“I’ve gained vital experience in both qualitative and quantitative research as well as grant writing, partnership cultivation, and community engagement. I was able to explore future career avenues, even applying and accepting a position with the Colorado Legal Services Migrant Farmworker Division.” – DUGC ACE Grant Recipient  

“I have realized the importance of adaptability, recognized that we can spread compassion, and support the efforts of organizations even remotely. In striving to create sustainable, impactful change, I have learned a great deal about doing community engaged work not just for, but also with and alongside our partners. I will continue to look for opportunities to lift communities in the future, no matter the circumstance.” –DUGC Student Scholar  

With AVDF support, DU Grand Challenges will continue to scale and evolve these programs to support undergraduate student development and build thriving communities. We’re looking forward to doing just that in AY 21-22.