Community Outreach

Why Is Planning Important?

Planning helps determine how communities will grow and how they will adjust to change. Planning identifies current problems, analyzes trends, engages community members in dialogue about goals and issues, and sets the framework for growth and change.

A plan can take a variety of forms including:

  • Policy recommendations
  • Regulatory and incentive strategies
  • A community vision and goals
  • Community action, historic preservation, redevelopment, smart growth, economic development, disaster preparedness, and more.

National Community Planning Month

Celebrate planning achievements each October during National Community Planning Month. APA kicks off the month announcing its annual Great Places in America designees. 

National Planning Excellence Awards

Each year, APA recognizes outstanding efforts in planning and planning leadership.

Community Planning Assistance Teams

Sometimes communities lack the planning resources or staff needed to address a planning issue. APA’s Community Planning Assistance Teams (CPAT) program fills this void by bringing in planning experts from around the country to assist. As part of the National Planning Conference, the American Institute of Certified Planners sponsors the Community Planning Workshop.

Prosperity Playbook

The Playbook will illuminate some of the key areas where communities must focus as they seek to become more inclusive, including:

  • Taking a regional planning perspective to advance common goals
  • Incorporating social equity and affordable housing elements in transportation and economic development
  • Diversifying housing alternatives for older adults and other vulnerable populations
  • Engaging community members to advance planning for shared growth

For Commissioners

If you serve on a community board, such as the planning commission, zoning board of appeals, or design review, join APA's national network of officials, planners, advocates, and students working to make great communities! Special discounted rates apply.

Kids and Planning

Find resources for teaching kids about planning and engage them directly in community planning. 

Diversity Initiatives

Diversity within the profession is essential to finding a common and encompassing community vision, and APA members are committed to fostering such diversity. Increasing social equity, diversity, and minority participation must occur in order to better serve minority populations. Join APA on this important quest.

  • Discover a variety of diversity resources, which include books, reports, presentations, and conference proceedings.
  • Become an APA Ambassador, and help reach future planners with diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.
  • Join the Diversity Task Force and drive strategies to increase minority representation and participation in planning.
  • Let more or get involved with allied organizations.

International Initiatives

Challenges and successes often cross geographic, national, and institutional borders. Here are some examples of how APA is involved worldwide:

  • Global Planners Network, composed of national planning associations — including APA — shares planning ideas, approaches, and good practices.
  • APA in China. Since its economic reform in 1978, APA has sent planners to China for teaching, discussion, and projects.
  • The Road to Habitat III. Occuring in 2016, this is the United Nations-wide effort to take stock of and set forth a strategy for cities and towns across the world.

Specialty Resources


Learn about APA's collaborative efforts with other professional organizations.