Our Mission

We work with government and community partners to create data-informed solutions to Colorado’s most pressing problems.

Our History

The Colorado Evaluation & Action Lab launched in 2017, thanks to the vision of former Governor John Hickenlooper and Lt. Governor Donna Lynne, with seed funding from private philanthropy. As an innovative government-research partnership, the Colorado Lab, housed at the University of Denver, was designed to meet the unique needs of the state, serve as a strategic connector to accelerate a culture of evidence-based decision making in Colorado, and remain responsive to the flow of governmental decision making across administrations.

a man in a black blazer poses for a headshot standing in front of the colorado flag
“The Lab is the first program of its kind in Colorado. We owe it to the citizens of our state to ensure that the programs we undertake not only deliver on what they set out to do but that they are high quality, measured, and push for improvement.” John Hickenlooper Former Governor

Our Essential Elements

We conduct research with rigor to obtain the best available evidence to address Colorado’s most pressing social problems and improve the lives of Coloradans. To do this, we build relationships, work to understand and reform systems, and collaborate with partners to take action. With these Essential Elements guiding our collaborative efforts to improve the lives of Coloradans, our goal is to leverage data to inform policy and practice, set the wheels in motion to achieve and sustain change, and position our partners to pursue additional, meaningful change for the communities they serve.

Hover over any bubble to reveal more information: each bubble represents a data point, and hovering on it will provide additional details.


Building mutual relationships is at the heart of the Colorado Lab’s work.


  • Prioritize relationships by listening to diverse needs and insights, making connections, and modeling responsiveness and flexibility.
  • Are committed to learning together with our partners to move the needle toward desired outcomes.
  • Serve as a bridge to the research community, fostering connections within Colorado’s research and evaluation community, and engaging external partners to harness their subject matter and methodological expertise.


We apply systems thinking at every step of building evidence so that issues and solutions move beyond silos to collective impact. We:

  • Apply rigor to obtain the best available evidence matched to decision-making goals.
  • Make connections across players in different systems to find alignment in opportunity.
  • Welcome risk for reward to disrupt core causes that hold problems in place.


The end goal of every Colorado Lab relationship and project is meaningful action. Our work does not stop at the generation of research evidence. We:

  • Activate findings by investing in pathways that move results into opportunities for sustained change that crosses generations and systems.

Essential Elements Blog

Our special blog series highlights elements that are essential to our work with a broad range of government and community partners. The effectiveness of the work we undertake together is key to advancing systems and policies that strengthen opportunities to meaningfully improve the lives of Coloradans.

Our Approach

Visit our approach page to learn more about how we use the Steps to Building Evidence.

Our Team

Visit our team page to learn more about the people behind the Colorado Lab.