First Advisor

Mairi-Jane Fox

Second Advisor

Nina Miller


Ursula Miniszewski


Regis College

Degree Name

Master of Development Practice

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Number of Pages

108 pages


Environmental injustices in Denver follow the same patterns that are seen throughout the country, which is that low-income People of Color are, relative to White people, disproportionately impacted by poor air and water quality, food deserts, displacement, and a phenomenon known as urban heat islands. The literature review conducted for this proposal revealed that despite the 2019 U.S Census Bureau indicating that Denver is 80.9 percent White, 29 percent Latino, and 10 percent Black, neighborhoods with predominantly Black and Latino residents are the neighborhoods experiencing environmental injustices in Denver.

For this project proposal, a literature review was conducted along with interviews with three Denver-based environmental organizations and one backbone organization based out of Boulder. Interwoven into this project design are also observations that the author has made as the result of being born and raised in Denver, the author’s experiences completing a field placement with the backbone organization that was consulted with for this project, and observations made by the author while working in two of the neighborhoods that have been indicated as being at high risk for becoming urban heat islands.

Denver has numerous environmental organizations with individual mission statements, but ultimately these organizations want Denver to be an environmentally healthy city for its current residents and future generations. In the nonprofit sector, both throughout the country and in Denver, individual organizations often work on large-scale systemic issues and then report on their progress as individual entities. Collective impact represents a paradigm shift for the nonprofit sector’s traditionally more individualistic approach to solving problems. A collective impact initiative brings partners from multiple sectors together to solve large scale systemic issues, such as environmental justice issues. Brining partners from multiple sectors together is critical because systemic problems are the result of multiple sectors. A collective impact initiative brings key actors and their expertise together to solve the problem at hand.

This project proposal concerns the creation of an organization called 5280 for Environmental Justice (5280 EJ), which is a backbone organization, designed to support a collective impact initiative in Denver whose mission would be to end environmental injustices in Denver. 5280 EJ will work as the nervous system that supports and brings together partners from multiple sectors to mobilize and advocate for systemic change in order to put an end to Denver’s environmental racism.

Date of Award

Spring 2020

Location (Creation)

Colorado (state); Denver (county); Denver (inhabited place)

Rights Statement

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