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Galvanizing Tomorrow's Civic Leaders

Student Scholars: Puksta Program

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The Student Scholars: Puksta Program is a four-year, developmental civic engagement program with an intentionally diverse community.

The Puksta Scholars Program requires meaningful commitment to community work, development of civic skills, and the creation of sustainable community partnerships, mentor relationships, and public work projects.

While scholars work on independent or small-group public work projects, they also work together as a larger Puksta community, supporting and mentoring one another, and taking leadership of the program itself in collaboration with CCESL staff.

In addition, scholars are supported in integrating their academics, personal values, interests, skills and career preparation, with the development of their civic identity and social responsibility as a global citizens. This is accomplished using the community organizing model, and includes curricular and co-curricular personal and civic development training, personal and group critical reflection, and mentoring.

The University of Denver Puksta Scholars Program works closely with the Puksta Scholars Programs at Colorado State University, Metro State University of Denver, University of Colorado Boulder, and University of Colorado Denver. All five programs are generously funded by the Puksta Foundation.

DU Puksta Scholars Program Core Concepts

Building Public Relationships

Working for change requires the building of meaningful public relationships—with those with whom we agree with and those with whom we disagree. Students learn to develop a public life and engage in one-to-ones, power mapping, relationship building, and mentoring on campus and in the community.

Civic Leadership

Solving community-based problems requires a non-traditional style of leadership, where students work collaboratively across differences, and lead with and not for others in the community. It also requires the development and activation of personal values in dialogue with shared democratic values such as justice, equality and responsibility to the common good.

Public Work

Systemic social change takes time, and it requires a community to dig deep into root causes, to work strategically and use power creatively. Puksta Scholars work with the community to co-create tangible, sustainable public work that is part of a larger movement to achieve our collective democratic values for more just communities.

Student Scholar Eligibility and Award Information

The Puksta Scholars Program allows Colorado students with financial need to pursue a college education and develop a civic identity and commitment. The Puksta Scholarship is awarded annually to six incoming first-year students who are Colorado residents (defined as having graduated a Colorado high school).

The annual scholarship of $6,000 is renewable for four years. In addition, each Puksta Scholar has access to grants for trainings, conferences, public projects and paid summer internships.

For more information on what it is like to be in the Puksta Scholars Program, read our Puksta Profiles.

Application Process


Incoming first-year students who are Colorado residents—as defined by having graduated a Colorado high school and have financial need—can apply for the Puksta Scholars Program after receiving their letter of acceptance from DU's Office of Admission.

Selection Criteria

Puksta Scholars are selected based on their ability to articulate a personal commitment to democratic values of justice, equality and responsibility to the common good, ability to critically reflect on their experiences, identity, community, and critically evaluate their behavior as it relates to their core values, a desire to learn civic skills, be a part of a diverse community, engage with difference, and practice their commitment to civic engagement and academics (must maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher as a Puksta Scholar).

Selection Process

Applications are reviewed by the Center for Community Engagement to advance Scholarship and Learning (CCESL), and qualifying applicants will be invited for personal interviews on campus. Financial need is evaluated by DU's Office of Financial Aid.

Application Deadline

The deadline for the 2018-2019 Puksta Scholar's application has passed. For information on other CCESL student programs, click here

Interview Preparation
Interview tips and guidelines are available here

Please send questions about the application process to [email protected].

More information

For more information, please contact [email protected]

Last updated: 8/15/19