Regis University and Aria Denver Awarded Major Grant to Improve Health of Northwest Denver Community

July 31, 2014

Regis University was awarded a major grant to further fuel an effort aimed at promoting health and improving community connections in northwest Denver, an area that lags behind in the growth and development seen in other vital areas of the metro area.

The grant, one of the largest received by the University for a healthy-living cooperative project, aims to unite the University and a private development team (Urban Ventures and Perry Rose) in a unique partnership with adjacent neighborhood residents to promote health in the environments in which we live, work and learn.

The nearly $1 million grant from the Colorado Health Foundation bolsters the project, called Cultivate Health, that strives to collectively impact health by building places, social connectivity, physical activities, improve access to food and health care.

“We believe in and are excited about this ambitious project that has such great potential for creating an environment that’s conducive for healthy living for residents in Northwest Denver,” said Kelly Dunkin, vice president of philanthropy for the Colorado Health Foundation. “By forming a safe and active community, the residents around Regis University will enjoy the benefits of healthy living because of their and their many partners’ commitment to community health. We are excited to see Denver partnering to bring healthy infrastructure to this neighborhood.”

The grant will fund physical improvements like sidewalks, outdoor adult exercise equipment, a 3.7 mile wellness walk, bike lanes, nutrition and physical activity programs at Beach Court Elementary School and a one acre production garden which will supply fresh vegetables to the neighborhood through a Pay-As-You-Can Farm Stand. Regis University will add academic work in urban agriculture and students in urban agriculture, health care and nutrition programs will use Cultivate Health for community engagement.

“The Cultivate Health project epitomizes what Regis University stands for in the community, and that’s leading lives that matter,” said Dr. Janet Houser, one of the Cultivate Health project leaders and Academic Dean/professor within Regis’ Rueckert-Hartman College for Health Professions. “Through this unique relationship of a developer and university combining resources to build an environment of health within an existing neighborhood, we hope to empower and equip our community toward healthier living through improved access to nutritional food and preventive health care.”

Studies show that people without convenient access to fresh food and physical activities face significant barriers to achieving health. More than 14,000 people of diverse ages, ethnic groups and income levels live in the area; 22.4% are below the federal poverty level; 98% of children at Beach Court Elementary School receive free or reduced lunch; 24% of adults have not completed high school. This project addresses and removes those barriers.

“The Cultivate Health project brings our development team into a very rare relationship with a university, and a host of committed partners and residents. We believe this unique mix will result in positive and lasting changes to this northwest Denver neighborhood,” said Susan Powers, President of Urban Ventures LLC.

Regis continues to seek funding to support building a health service in the neighborhood to provide preventative and personalized care to further enhance neighborhood health. It will be operated by an inter-professional team of Regis faculty and students.

Learn more about the Cultivate Health project