The Baltimore Planning Academy: Community Empowerment Through Civic Education

PAS Memo 112

By Elina Bravve


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In 2018, the Baltimore Department of Planning (DoP) launched the Baltimore Planning Academy. The Planning Academy is a cohort-based, six-week program designed to build community leadership around urban planning, zoning, and development topics.

Developed to meet the first of five goals in the DoP's Equity Action Plan — to improve and increase the dialogue between the Department of Planning and underserved communities in Baltimore — the Planning Academy seeks to elevate the ability of community members to affect the public processes around planning, policy, and urban development. Participants are better equipped to engage in the planning and development process by providing input into public processes, taking leadership roles in developing and implementing neighborhood plans, designing and executing new community projects, and connecting more of their family, friends, and neighbors to critical information about city programs.

This PAS Memo explains the vision and goals of the Baltimore Planning Academy, its structure and design, and the impact thus far of the program. The Memo also offers recommendations and action steps for planners wishing to pursue broader and deeper engagement processes for their residents by creating planning academies in their own communities.


Date Published
June 1, 2022
Adobe PDF
American Planning Association

About the Author

Elina Bravve
Elina Bravve has been a city planner for the City of Baltimore since January 2016. Her responsibilities include managing the Planning Academy initiative, as well as supporting the upcoming comprehensive plan process. Prior to joining Baltimore City, she worked as a researcher for the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a national public policy nonprofit. Bravve holds a master's degree in city and regional planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.