CoLab has its roots in the MIT Community Fellows Program, a 25-year effort of the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning, to support community activists' learning through campus-based coursework, learning and building networks. The Community Fellows Program evolved into the Center for Reflective Community Practice (CRCP), which drew on the development expertise of DUSP faculty and students, and used reflective practice to help communities and leaders "know what they know." CRCP aimed to improve lives by mining the knowledge of residents in low-income and marginalized communities for their own use. Building on the legacy of CRCP and the principles of reflective practice, CoLab seeks to leverage a range of community assets, including community knowledge, to advance democratic engagement, urban sustainability and shared wealth creation.