Livable City Year

Partner With Us

The University of Washington’s Livable City Year program mobilizes UW faculty, students and courses to work on your community’s goals around livability and sustainability. We welcome interest from cities, counties, tribes, and special districts in exploring a partnership. We invite you to contact us at

The list below details some of the factors that will shape our initial discussions and the terms of our partnership should it move forward. You can also view FAQs at the bottom of this page.

Visit our Past Projects page for examples of past collaborations.

Steps to Engagement Before Project Launch

Proposed timeline 

When do you want students to begin work?

  • Autumn Quarter (begins late September)
  • Winter Quarter (begins early January)
  • Spring Quarter (begins late March)

What is your desired length of partnership?

  • One year
  • Multiple years

Depending on the complexity of your project, we may suggest dividing it into multiple components to be completed by multiple classes over several academic quarters (see City of Sultan).

Representative project list

During our exploratory conversations, we enjoy discussing the potential partner’s project ideas. As these ideas take shape, we ask the partner to provide a potential project list that includes the working title of each project, name and title of city project lead, short project description and projected impact.


Title of project: Public housing site redevelopment
Name and department of project lead: Jane Doe, Economic Development Lead
Short project description: Plan and design an environmentally friendly re-use and redevelopment of a public housing site in a way that integrates an adjacent affordable housing complex, a sustainable stormwater management system, infill development, and the community at large.
Expected impact: economic development, active transportation, and water quality

To stimulate thinking around potential projects, a full list of all previous LCY projects, sorted by school and college, is also available.

Other topics for discussion

Staffing and financial commitment
How do you propose to address the financial and staff needs of the partnership?

Approval from City Council
Depending on the project and funding source, community partners may need to secure approval from City Council or other approving authorities.

Master Agreement

Once we have determined the scale, timeline, and financing of your projects, we will outline the terms and conditions within a Master Agreement under which we’ll operate for the duration of our partnership. Creating the Master Agreement is an iterative, collaborative process. We start with a template written for Washington entities, so cities are already familiar with the language.


Is there an ideal time of year to initiate partnership discussions?

Yes, we like to have some time to develop the relationship, discuss the projects, match them to faculty, and write an agreement. A 6 month lead time is best. However, we can work on shorter notice if necessary.

Is there a deadline to apply?

No, we work on a rolling basis according to the needs and timelines of our potential partners and UW’s academic calendar.

I see you already have a partner for next year. Can you accept another partner?

Yes, we have the capacity to work with several communities during a single academic year.

Can you help my department present this opportunity to my City Council?

Yes, we often present about Livable City Year to city councils, county commissioners, and state agencies. We would be happy to present to your community.

Do you work with nonprofit organizations?

We prefer to work with nonprofit organizations who have been heavily deputized by their local government.

How much guidance do you give communities in shaping and scoping projects?

The Livable City Year model is designed to support the goals and needs of our partner communities, and to match faculty and students to address these goals. Our program staff and faculty are available to explore project scope, methods, and deliverables. Ultimately, the projects meet community needs and provide educational experiences for our students.

How much does a LCY partnership cost?

We do not bill per project, as a consultant would; rather, we are focused on building partnerships that are meaningful and significant to the community and to our students. Typically, our program fee works out to roughly $7,500 to $12,500 per project.

We only need one project done. Can we work with Livable City Year?

We are looking to build meaningful and impactful relationships with communities, and therefore we are not likely to prioritize a single project. However, we will endeavor to use our extensive network and knowledge of faculty across all three UW campuses to help you find a suitable faculty or course for your project.

Will undergraduate or graduate students work on our projects?

We match the level of students with the needs of the project. In a typical year, 60% of classes doing LCY projects are graduate level. We find that undergraduate students excel at some important LCY activities, such as community engagement, interviews, and data collection.

What types of deliverables can your classes provide?

LCY classes can produce a wide range of deliverables depending on partner needs. Examples of deliverables include initial condition reports, comprehensive plan elements, data and data analysis, case studies, recommendations, slide presentations, and community input meetings.

Most commonly, LCY deliverables include a form of written report. This report can range from a simple white paper format to a highly polished, graphic-laden, and designed formal report.

What is the time commitment required of City staff?

Each project has a lead within the partner city. This person will write the Scope of Work in collaboration with the faculty member, orient the students to the problem and provide any necessary data or other resources, serve as a resource to students as questions arise, and provide feedback at the midterm and final presentations.

What is the time commitment of the LCY liaison at the City?

The LCY model calls for a single point of contact at the University and at the partner community. When a partnership has fewer than 5 projects, then this role is not necessary. When partnerships are larger, it is helpful to have a single point of contact. Depending on the number of projects and City staff involved, this role could require up to 2 – 4 hours per week.