DU as an Anchor Institution

What is an Anchor Institution?

Anchor institutions are, as their name implies, enterprises that are necessarily tied (anchored) to their locations, such as universities or hospitals. Because these institutions can’t move to another city the way most private businesses can, anchor institutions have a great opportunity to build long, meaningful connections, partnerships and friendships with other local businesses, non-profits and community members. Additionally, institutions like universities and hospitals wield vast economic, human, intellectual and institutional resources, which can serve to improve and grow local economies and build stronger communities.

As a private university working for the public good, the University of Denver is able to use its own purchasing power to support and empower local companies, and to help traditionally marginalized populations in our city thrive. In 2015, DU had a nearly $1 billion impact on the city of Denver, through university purchasing, student spending, visitor spending and construction projects. We are dedicated to directing more of that impact toward small local businesses, particularly ones owned by women, minorities, veterans and other vulnerable populations.

Who is Doing this Work in Denver?

The Denver Anchor Network (DAN) provides a mechanism to accelerate the learning and progress of anchor institutions in the Denver metro area. The DAN is a project of The Denver Foundation, Mile High Connects and the Center for Community Wealth Building. DAN’s vision is for anchor institutions, as powerful economic engines in the region, to commit to aligning institutional resources to close the racial wealth and economic opportunity gaps in the Denver metro area. Strategies include, but are not limited to, local procurement, local hiring and local investing.

In partnership with Denver Anchor Network, the University of Denver has been identifying potential partners and opportunities to direct our university spending toward local women- and minority-owned business enterprises (WMBEs). When we do this, our money stays in our local economy and helps all members of our communities thrive.

16% of contractor spending for Dimond Residential Village and Community Commons Project goes to veteran/WMBEs

30% of contractor spending for Burwell Center for Career Achievement Project goes to veteran/WMBEs

WMBEs in Contracting

Facilities Management and Planning is leading the way at the University of Denver in advancing our goals around our role as an anchor institution. In 2018, they held a series of forums to seek feedback from and engage local veteran-, women- and minority-owned contractors. The department then set a goal for 15 percent of the contractor cost for the Denver Advantage building to be through veteran/WMBEs in Denver. They exceeded that goal.

The Facilities commitment to support WMBEs goes beyond costs for new construction on campus. They have found success in contracting with these local companies for smaller renovation projects, as well; DU’s many construction needs will continue to support historically under-supported businesses long after new buildings are complete.

denver skyline background

Supporting Alumni Businesses

A huge number of DU alumni have finished their time at DU and stayed right here in Denver to open thriving restaurants, cafes, breweries, bars and other businesses. To honor these accomplishments and to make eating and drinking in alumni-owned establishments more accessible, the Office of Alumni Engagement kicked off the Crimson and Gold Trail, a passport program that helps DU staff, students, alumni and friends find and enjoy the alumni-owned businesses all over the city.

Explore the Crimson & Gold Trail

Local Food Sourcing at DU

The Center for Sustainability, in partnership with the Center for Community Wealth Building, and event planners across the university have worked to increase the portion of that catering spend that goes to small, local catering companies owned by women, immigrants and other minority populations. In February 2020, this group hosted the Eat Local Food event, which brought nearly a dozen such caterers to campus in order to introduce them and their food to event planners at DU. The hope is that by making connections between these smaller catering companies, DU event planners will find they have many choices for who they go to for event catering, while uplifting and empowering marginalized communities in Denver.

Interested in accessing this list of caterers? Contact the Center for Sustainability.