About IDEA

Our Work

IDEA serves as a platform for faculty and students to suggest innovative projects that will support and enhance equity and success of community college students. We create spaces and opportunities for faculty and students to engage in interdisciplinary and project-based experiences. Our work facilitates new types of programming, connects faculty, staff and students with strategic partners, develops original projects, and expands the reach and impact of Red Rocks’ programs.  

Our team partners with K-12, colleges and universities, business, industry and community to design and pilot interdisciplinary projects that provide Red Rocks students with experiences to gain professional, technical and creativity skills. 

Throughout our work, we apply a designer mindset to find new ways to improve equity, innovation and excellence in higher education. IDEA uses design-thinking in workshops and convening of stakeholders to move from dialogue to active experimentation.


Our History

The college launched Red Rocks Institute for Sustainability in Education (RISE) in 2010 through support from a community donor to reimagine community college education. RISE supported several initiatives to rethink learning and the traditional classroom environment, resulting in more project-based experiences that connect the classroom to the community, and the creation of the IDEA Lab in 2014.

The IDEA Lab plays a critical role in student innovation by serving as a sandbox for student experimentation in self-directed learning and 21st century education. The IDEA Lab demonstrated its value early on by supporting a student team who won first place in the 2015 National Science Foundation’s Community College Innovation Challenge.

When the founding grant for RISE ended, Red Rocks chose to provide ongoing support to interdisciplinary, project-based learning based on the successes generated out of the IDEA Lab. The new initiative, the IDEA Institute, was launched to support and enhance faculty and student innovation. The IDEA Institute and its associated physical space – IDEA Lab – are now known as “IDEA.” 

Downloadable flyer about IDEA.