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Natural Sciences & Mathematics

Donald Burnes

PhD, Columbia University


  • Research on the demographics and causes of homelessness
  • Research on evidence-based best practices to eliminate homelessness
  • Research and technical assistance on conducting evaluations and using evaluation information to improve practice
  • Academic interest in the politics of homelessness and of efforts to address social problems in the U.S.
  • Academic interest in the U.S. Civil Rights movement

professional biography

Donald Burnes spent much of his professional career in the field of educational research and evaluation with a special focus on the education of poor and disadvantaged children, working both for the federal government in Washington and for the Education Commission of the States in Denver. In 1986, he became the Executive Director of the Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington (DC), a church- sponsored nonprofit organization serving the poor and homeless. Following his three years of work there, he and his late wife wrote A Nation in Denial: The Truth about Homelessness, published in 1993. They spent the next two years traveling throughout the U.S., speaking to various groups and working with states and local communities helping them establish appropriate services for the homeless.

Following his wife's death in 2003,Burnes returned to Denver and became involved with the development and implementation of Denver's 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness. He also joined the Board of the Metro Denver Homelessness Initiative (MDHI) for several years, and he served on the Governor's Council on Homelessness in both Gov. Ritter's and  Gov. Hickenlooper's administrations. Shortly after returning to Denver, Burnes became involved in the Housing and Homelessness Funders Collaborative, a group of funders providing grants to groups engaged in system-wide change in the area of affordable housing and homelessness.

Burnes is currently engaged in the development of the Burnes Institute, a nonprofit organization that conducts research and provides technical assistance to policy makers and practitioners in the homelessness arena for the state of Colorado.