University of Colorado Denver


University of Colorado Denver
Hometown Colorado Initiative
Case Type
Program Stories
School Size
0 - 20,000
Focus Areas
Democratic Governance, Economic and Social Inclusion, Environment Sustainability
Planning, Public Administration


Website |

The CityCenter (formally known as the Hometown Colorado Initiative (HCI)) provides campus-wide community engagement for primarily graduate-level students in multiple disciplines. Currently housed within CU Denver’s College of Architecture and Planning, HCI builds upon an existing effort at the Colorado Center for Community Development to provide students with real world experience. The City of Lakewood was HCI’s first community partner, with five projects completed by students in the College of Architecture and Planning, the College of Arts and Media, and the School of Business. Projects included a walkability study around lightrail stations, a park master plan, research on green business certificate programs, a local food access study and an inventory of fun places in the city. Approximately 120 students were engaged in these five projects.

The annual report highlighting the partnership with the City of Arvada this past year is now available here. The report provides an overview of the five projects completed over the 2016-17 Academic Year, through the efforts of CU Denver faculty and students. The projects, identified by city staff as priorities focused on water conservation and housing.

The projects included designs for Garden In A Box, which replaces turf with landscape that requires little water, designs for a park, a housing survey, GIS mapping of potential sites for multifamily housing, and a water budget analysis. An estimated 16,000 student hours were spent working on community projects. Students benefit by gaining real world experience and knowing that their work is of value to the City of Arvada.

Fun Facts about CityCenter

One project that highlights how students can help a city overcome long-standing barriers to addressing residents’ issues is the Lasley Park Master Plan. This neighborhood park had been on the city’s list for improvements for over twenty years, however, a few vocal neighbors disagreed with the city’s improvement plans and no consensus could be reached. Students in a landscape architecture studio worked closely with city staff to gather neighbors’ concerns and ideas at a community meeting. Students returned after four weeks of developing design concepts, based on the input received by neighbors.

At the second community meeting, neighbors gave feedback on the design elements, indicating what they would like to see in their park. The city hired four of the students as interns to work on completing a park master plan, along with city staff. The plan was presented to the City Council, where it was unanimously approved for $1.2 million for implementation. The groundbreaking is planned for spring of 2018, where students will be invited to witness the start of implementing the plan that they helped develop. The students were able to help the city move beyond the twenty-years impasse with neighbors that had prevented them from being able to make much needed improvements to the park.

Year Program Established | 2015
Country | U.S.
Federal Region of Program | 8

Public or Private Institution | Public
Number of students at institution | 18,937

Highlight Articles/Videos

Hometown Colorado gives park new life by Vicki Hildner
New initiative puts CU Denver students to work on Lakewood development projects by Caitlin Hendee

City Partners

2015 | Lakewood • Population: 147,214
2016 | Arvada • Population: 111,707
2017 | Arvada • Population: 111,707

Contact Info

Jessi Zemetra
Program Manager

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