Community Planning Assistance Teams

The Community Planning Assistance Team (CPAT) initiative is an AICP component of a broader APA Community Assistance Program.

By pairing a multidisciplinary team of expert planning professionals from around the country with community members, key stakeholders, and relevant decision makers, the place-based initiative seeks to foster community education, engagement, and empowerment.

Each team is selected for the specific expertise needed on the project to offer pro bono assistance in developing a framework or vision plan that promotes a sustainable, livable, economically vibrant, and healthy community.

Communities facing a range of challenges including, but not limited to, social equity and affordability, economic development, sustainability, consensus building, and urban design are well-suited for assistance through the program. Projects focus on localities with a demonstrated need for assistance, where planning resources and expertise may not otherwise be available.

Community Planning Assistance Teams flyer (pdf)

Learn more about CPAT from an article in the Spring 2013 edition of APA's The Commissioner.

Application Periods

Current period deadline: June 5, 2014

Team Member Applications

If you are an APA member and have a desire to join a CPAT Team, please submit an application. Team member applications are always accepted.

Team Member Application (doc)

Team Member Application (pdf)

Community Applications

The CPAT initiative currently holds two annual application cycles for communities seeking planning-related assistance. If your community has a project suitable for a CPAT, download the application and submit it during one of the open application periods. Applications must be postmarked or e-mailed by the application deadline. A $50 application fee is required.

CPAT Community Application (doc)

CPAT Community Application (pdf)

Project Timelines

While the specifics of every project will be different, provided below is an abbreviated example of a typical timeline of a CPAT project. APA staff will work with each selected community to determine the timeline for their unique project. A more detailed timeline is included with the community application. Project timelines typically consist of three main stages:

  1. Organization of materials and preliminary assessment of project site (team briefing book preparation)
  2. The team's on-site visit (community meetings, media releases, preliminary report)
  3. Follow-up and final report

Month 1 (following official selection of community project):

  • APA staff and community contact person(s) discuss project in more detail; identify all stakeholders and compile a contact list; finalize dates for the team leader visit and the team's visit.
  • Community contact person begins gathering and preparing materials for a team briefing book.

Month 2:

  • Team leader and APA staff make a site visit to community. Community contact person organizes a meeting during visit with stakeholders.
  • Complete team is selected based on the expertise needs of the project.

Month 3:

  • Community contact person(s) finalizes Team briefing book.
  • Team visits community (3 to 5 days) and presents preliminary findings to community on final day of visit.

Month 4–6:

  • Team works independently on final report.

Month 7:

  • Final report is completed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Visit APA's FAQ page and click on "Community Planning Assistance Teams (CPAT)" for answers to frequently asked questions about the program.


Please direct questions to

A Brief History

Community assistance is built into the professional role of a certified planner. One principle of the AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct states that certified planners shall aspire to "seek social justice by working to expand choice and opportunity for all persons, recognizing a special responsibility to plan for the needs of the disadvantaged and to promote racial and economic integration." Another principle is that certified planners should aspire to "contribute time and effort to groups lacking in adequate planning resources and to voluntary professional activities."

In the early 1990s, the American Planning Association took aim at the issue of social equity in planning and development. In recognition of the key role urban and regional planners play in shaping vibrant, sustainable, and equitable communities, the APA Board of Directors established the "Community Planning Team" initiative in 1995. This resulted in a successful pro bono effort to assist an economically struggling African American community in North Carolina. AICP has continued to develop pro bono planning initiatives that provide assistance to communities in need.

In 2005, program efforts were notably increased after the tragic and devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina the Gulf Coast Region. APA immediately embarked on a number of initiatives and projects, including Planning Assistance Teams in the affected cities of Henderson Point, Mississippi, and Mandeville and Slidell in Louisiana.

See a timeline of APA's involvement in the Gulf Coast region