UW News

May 3, 2017

University of Washington, City of Tacoma announce Livable City Year partnership for 2017-2018

UW Sustainability

The University of Washington’s Livable City Year (LCY) program has selected the City of Tacoma as the program’s community partner for the 2017-2018 academic year. This partnership establishes a yearlong relationship connecting students and faculty with city staff working on projects that advance goals outlined in its One Tacoma: Comprehensive Plan and Tacoma2025 strategic visioning framework.

“As Tacoma continues to evolve and attract more residents, we want to ensure that this growth is sustainable and our entire community benefits,” said Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland. “We are pleased to be selected as a University of Washington Livable City Year partner and we look forward to a partnership that will achieve realistic, specific and measurable goals to address education, employment, equity and accountability. We are particularly excited about the opportunity to strengthen our ties with UW’s Tacoma campus.”

The Livable City Year program will connect UW courses with projects identified by Tacoma related to the city’s livability and sustainability needs. The program works with faculty across all UW schools, colleges and campuses to match the projects to courses and students who can best address the real-world problems, while providing city staff with the resources of UW student and faculty research and project work.

“The University of Washington is incredibly proud to honor our public promise through partnerships like this one, which creates so many opportunities for our students, faculty and staff to work with the Tacoma community toward a tangible, positive impact,” said UW President Ana Mari Cauce. “We’re especially pleased to be doing Livable City Year in the home of our UW Tacoma campus, and can’t wait to see how these interdisciplinary and hands-on learning projects extend and build on the thriving partnership we’ve had with Tacoma for more than two decades.”

“In the upcoming year, city staff will work with the University of Washington’s Livable City Year program to identify projects and programs that would benefit from University of Washington student and faculty assistance,” said Tacoma2025 Program Manager Tanisha Jumper. “It is an exciting partnership.”

The University of Washington’s Livable City Year program is led by faculty directors Branden Born with the Department of Urban Design and Planning, and Jennifer Otten with the School of Public Health, in collaboration with UW Sustainability and Urban@UW, and with foundational support from the Association of Washington Cities, the University of Washington’s College of Built Environments and Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

“Cities are a great laboratory for today’s students and tomorrow’s leaders to put their ideas and training into action.”

— Peter B. King, Association of Washington Cities CEO

The UW’s Livable City Year program launched in the 2016-2017 academic year, with the City of Auburn serving as its inaugural partner. UW students and faculty worked with the City of Auburn on 18 projects during the initial Livable City Year partnership.

“We are excited to partner with Tacoma and build on the success of our inaugural Livable City Year,” Otten said. “Students and faculty have done very exciting work on livability projects in Auburn this year, and working with Tacoma will provide new opportunities for students to work on projects which will benefit residents in Tacoma and our region.”

Anne Taufen Wessells, a professor with UW Tacoma Urban Studies, will serve as faculty co-director and the primary UW Tacoma contact throughout the Livable City Year partnership with the City of Tacoma, helping identify opportunities for UW Tacoma students to connect with Livable City Year projects.

“It’s terrific that we have the opportunity in Tacoma to leverage our university-wide resources and relationships to forge this unique partnership in the South Sound,” said Wessells.  “UW Tacoma’s academic programs, including urban studies, have long defined themselves by their commitment to local communities, and we are thrilled to have the yearlong added support and investment of the Livable City Year program to target and amplify the work of the entire campus as an urban-serving institution.”

One of several across the country based on the University of Oregon’s Sustainable City Year Program, the UW’s Livable City Year program is part of the Educational Partners for Innovation in Communities Network, which provides resources and connections for schools with similar programs. The UW and Western Washington University are the only two schools in Washington state currently offering a program under this model.

“Cities are a great laboratory for today’s students and tomorrow’s leaders to put their ideas and training into action,” said the Association of Washington Cities CEO Peter B. King. “The unique projects and creative solutions that emerge from partnerships like this strengthen our cities and towns.”


For more information, contact Born at bborn@uw.edu or 206-543-4975; Otten at jotten@uw.edu; and Maria Lee, communications specialist with the City of Tacoma at maria.lee@cityoftacoma.org or (253) 591-2054.

The Livable City Year program will hold a celebration event marking the successful completion of the initial partnership with the City of Auburn at 4 p.m. May 24 at the Auburn Community & Event Center, 910 Ninth St SE, Auburn.