about us

What is CoLab?


About Us

The Community Innovators Lab (CoLab) is a center for planning and development within the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP)CoLab facilitates the interchange of knowledge and resources between MIT and community organizations. We engage students to be practitioners of this approach to community change and sustainability. 


Putting Theory into Practice


CoLab works with MIT students, faculty, and technical resources to build collaborations with communities. Together we implement strategies that harness existing community assets and capture value to promote inclusive economic development that is environmentally sustainable, socially just, and deeply democratic. CoLab brings multi-disciplinary expertise from urban planning, municipal government, business, community media, civil rights advocacy, and community and labor organizing. We:



Utilize our convening power to engage marginalized communities with strategic partners and stakeholders – and with each other – to build leadership capacity within communities.


Serve as a research and development hub which harness the depth of wisdom in marginalized communities to address issues of inequality. CoLab applies unique participatory planning tools to generate knowledge from communities consistently overlooked in traditional development planning.


Engage directly with marginalized communities during disruptive moments of change, working on the ground with community leaders to help determine how local assets can be utilized to catalyze economic, social, and racial justice.


Disruptive Moments of Change

Disruptive moments of change open up new economic and social possibilities and generate opportunities for transformation.  CoLab’s economic democracy work is guided by our "Pivot Point" approach: promoting democratic engagement and urban sustainability in communities facing disruptive moments, we strive to produce shared wealth and collective well-being.



CoLab supports communities working on equitable, democratic, and sustainable development in the Americas...



CoLab translates its vision and mission into knowledge-creation, practice, teaching, service, and professional education by...



CoLab has its roots in the MIT Community Fellows Program, an effort of over 25 years by the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning...