Outstanding Planning Student Organization (PSO) Awards

Planning Student Organizations (PSOs) throughout the country are involved in exciting and creative activities that connect students to APA, contribute to their communities, and provide enhanced educational experiences for the students. This awards program provides a means for student groups to share their ideas, learn from one another, and receive recognition and rewards for creative, successful activities.

This award program is designed to recognize PSO excellence in offering educational programming and engaging with APA and its community. Consider the following key PSO functions:

  • Engage and contribute effectively to APA on various levels (APA, the Student Representatives Council, APA chapters or sections, APA divisions, AICP, etc.)
  • Educate students about APA membership
  • Educate students about the planning profession and AICP
  • Support students with opportunities to augment their academic experiences
  • Provide opportunities to cultivte important skills in leadership, programming and commnunication
  • Involve the university and broader community in student planning efforts and projects

2019 Award Submission Information

Deadline: December 12, 2018

Please review the awards criteria and submission requirements below before applying.

Apply

Eligibility

Only APA-registered PSOs with an APA member representative on the Student Representatives Council (SRC) are eligible for this awards program. Projects, activities, and events implemented in the previous and current academic years (August 1, 2017, to deadline) are eligible.

Entry must consist of PSO-sponsored projects or programs; individual, class, or planning program projects are not eligible.

Award Description and Criteria

The selection jury considers three criteria with equal weight: APA Engagement, Community Involvement, and Innovative Educational Programming. The jury encourages original/innovative approaches to these criteria. This award is designed to acknowledge PSOs that demonstrate outstanding activity through:

APA Engagement

Outstanding PSOs should foster student involvement with APA on various levels (APA, APA chapters, APA divisions, AICP, etc.) Examples of acceptable example APA engagement activities include:

  • Encourage APA membership and engagement (promote Student Membership Program, AICP Candidate Pilot Program, Planners Advocacy Network, APA Ambassador Program, etc.)
  • Involve student volunteers in APA activities and programs
  • Use APA leaders and members as speakers/participants in PSO programming and events (new student orientations, meeting and mentorship programs, brown bag lunches, etc.)
  • Develop student contributions to newsletters, blogs, conference sessions, etc.
  • CRITERIA (100 points total):
    • Innovative approach (20 points)
    • Level of engagement with APA (20 points)
    • Level of engagement of students (20 points)
    • Repeatability (20 points)
    • Results of activities (i.e., How did students continue to be involved with APA post-activities?) (20 points)

Community Involvement

A PSO should reflect the ideals of APA by being involved with their surrounding community. Examples of community involvement include:

  • Organizing community projects, such as community gardens, transforming vacant lots, working with K-12 students, etc.)
  • Volunteering with neighborhood organizations and other non-governmental agencies
  • Implementing projects via the APA Ambassador Program
  • CRITERIA (100 points total)
    • Innovative approach (25 points)
    • Level of engagement with community (25 points)
    • Level of engagement of students (25 points)
    • Repeatability (25 points)

Innovative Educational Programming

Successful PSOs should strive to provide educational activities for students in creative and/or non-traditional ways. Examples of innovative educational programming include:

  • AICP examination preparation sessions
  • Field trips to locations that have implemented innovative planning practices
  • Career, professional development or networking events, such as job shadowing programs, regular young professional speakers, mentor programs, etc.
  • CRITERIA (100 points total)
    • Innovative approach (25 points)
    • Repeatability (25 points)
    • Level of engagement of students (25 points)
    • Results of activities (i.e., What did the students learn?) (25 points)

Jury Members

The jury will be chaired by the SRC Executive Committee Immediate Past Chair and include:

  • The SRC Chair and Past Chair
  • One Regional Representative
  • One PSO Student Representative (Reps with an active submission cannot serve)
  • Others as needed

Selection, Award, and Recognition

Award winners will be notified as soon as they have been determined (anticipated to be February of each year). Notifications will be sent to each school and other APA leadership and announced to the public via APA Interact, SRC's First Friday Newsletters, and other mediums.

The winning PSO will be awarded with $2,500, and up to two PSOs will be given an Honorable Mention Award with smaller cash prizes. Members of the winning PSO will also be recognized by the SRC at the National Planning Conference.

Submission Requirements

Please follow the checklist below.

1. Basic Information

  • Name of PSO
  • Name of school and academic program
  • Name of PSO Student Representative
  • Primary contact
    • The primary contact will be responsible for communicating with APA staff about submission materials, awarding logistics (if applicable), etc. Please provide the primary contact's name and email address.
  • Short PSO description
    • Please provide a short statement (100-300 words) describing your PSO, its history, and how your PSO will use the cash prize is selected.

2. Letter(s) of Support (call these files: Letter of Support – [Author Last Name])

All letters should be on the letterhead of the supporter's school, company, organization, etc. and submitted in PDF. A minimum of one letter is required from the PSO faculty advisor, chapter president, or division chair. Additional letters are welcome and encouraged.

3. Criteria Narrative (call this file: Criteria Narrative )

Please show AND tell how your PSO's activities excelled in each of the three categories and their subsequent criteria through two mediums:

  1. Written Narrative: A one-to-two page description telling how the entry specifically satisfies each of the three criteria.
  2. Storytelling Media: Please show the jury how the entry meets the criteria visually, using photos, infographics, videos, or other media. Include 5–6 files (of any media type). The jury encourages creative means of illustrating how the PSO was successful in each category.
    Note: APA adheres to all copyright laws. They apply to all images used in the award submission as well as the final project.
  • Submit only images that are copyright-free and may be reproduced by APA without a fee, charge, or copyright infringement.
  • All images and videos must have a caption and credit details.
  • Images should not be thumbnail-sized. A size of 1,000–2,000 pixels is most commonly used.

Questions?

Please contact APA Customer Service.


Previous Winners

2018

Award in the Category of Involvement With APA

University of New Mexico – APA UNM

Award in the Category of Community Outreach

Arizona State University – Student Planning Association

Award in the Category of Best Practices

University of Illinois at Chicago – Urban Planning and Policy Student Association

Honorable Mention

An honorable mention is awarded to Georgia Institute of Technology's Student Planning Association.

2017

Congratulations to the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities, Cleveland State University, and the University of Southern California, winners of the 2017 Outstanding Planning Student Organization (PSO) Awards. An honorable mention award goes to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for its Student Planning Organization (SPO) in the category of Best Practices.

Award in the Category of Involvement With State Chapter or Division

Planning for Lasting Relationships

University of Minnesota–Twin Cities

Award in the Category of Best Practices

Urban Excursions & Planner Exchange

Cleveland State University

Award in the Category of Community Outreach

Planning for College: Student Outreach Series

University of Southern California

2017 Award Sponsors

City Planning and Management Division
County Planning Division
Economic Development Division
Housing & Community Development Division
Private Practice Division
Small Town and Rural Planning Division
Transportation Planning Division
Women in Planning Division
Urban Design & Preservation Division

2016

Congratulations to the Indiana University of Pennsylvania and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, winners of the 2016 Outstanding Planning Student Organization (PSO) Awards!

Honorable mention awards go to the University of California at Los Angeles for its Planners of Color for Social Equity and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for its Student Planning Organization (SPO). These planning student organizations were all recognized at the 2016 APA National Planning Conference in Phoenix for their accomplishments.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania Planning Student Organization

Project: The PSO Chapter of IUP participated in and organized a series of community outreach activities in 2015, working with and raising awareness among local city government, neighborhood, businesses and non-governmental agencies. Highlights include: the Indiana University District (IUD) planning effort, a bike rally to raise the awareness of the Hoodlebug Trail extension, the New Kensington Better Block event, the Walk Works Program outreach at the Northern Appalachian Folk Festival, teaming up with KABOOM to build a playground in the Indiana Borough, building a parklet during National Community Planning Month, and supporting the APA Pennsylvania Chapter annual conference, among many others.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Planners' Forum and Carolina Planning Journal

Project: Students at Carolina Planning have been very busy this year organizing a series of initiatives to create a meaningful experience for its students.

First, the Carolina Planning Journal published a print volume in May 2015 around the theme of "Planning for the New Economy." It also launched a new blog that features student, academic, and practitioner work called Carolina Angles. Carolina Angles publishes twice per week and has already attracted a wide readership of almost 2,000 unique visitors.

Second, its inclusion group, Plan for All, hosted twelve events that engaged issues ranging from planning for LGBTQ folks, public engagement best practices, black planning history, hazard planning and equity, and more. The group hosted Durham Mayor Bill Bell for a conversation about race and poverty in September 2015. Plan for All members are also working with faculty to identify gaps in the curriculum relating to race, class, gender, and equity.

Third, its Career Development Committee coordinated a number of events and resources to assist students in finding jobs and internships in the field, such as resume workshops and mock interview events.

Lastly, its students organized a Fall Break Trip to Atlanta that connected Carolina Planning students with some of Atlanta's most exciting planners such as planner Ryan Gravel, who dreamed up Atlanta's Belt Line, Tim Keane, Atlanta's Planning Commissioner, and Nedra Deadwyler, founder of Civil Bikes.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill each received $1,250 in donation from our sponsoring APA divisions. Thank you to these divisions and to the volunteers who served on this year's jury.

2016 Award Fund Contributors

City Planning and Management Division
County Planning Division
Economic Development Division
Federal Planning Division
Housing & Community Development Division
Planning and Women Division
Private Practice Division
Regional and Intergovernmental Division
Small Town and Rural Planning Division
Urban Design & Preservation Division

2015

Congratulations to Cornell University's Design Connect and San Jose State University's Urban Planning Coalition, winners of the 2015 Outstanding PSO Awards.

An honorable mention award goes to the University of Central Florida's Emerging Urban Knights Planning Association for its "Technical Skills Workshop Series."

These student organizations were recognized at the 2015 APA National Planning Conference in Seattle.

Design Connect, Cornell University

Design Connect, The First Five Years: Case Studies and Impact

Project: The student organization Design Connect provides design and planning services to local upstate NY communities in need. The organization has worked on community service projects in several communities over the last five years. Each project involves public participation and community outreach where students organize and conduct meetings with community leaders and the general public. In addition to meeting with community leaders, students work on behalf of residents in producing professional quality reports and design proposals. The deliverables and final designs that multi-disciplinary teams produce are of value to local communities who would otherwise lack the resources needed to work on these projects. The organization is managed by an administrative board of directors that is entirely comprised of students. Since 2009, Design Connect has worked in over 22 local communities and has involved hundreds of students from 16 different academic fields. Planning students help introduce students from other academic disciplines to community outreach methods and practices and put in to practice the skills they learn in the classroom.

Urban Planning Coalition, San Jose State University

Fall Symposium: Boomers and Millennials

Project: The Urban Planning Coalition (UPC) organized and hosted its annual Fall Symposium on October 18, 2014. The Symposium is one of the UPC's richest traditions, providing a full-day conference and open forum for students and professionals to engage in a current planning topic together. This year, the Symposium was titled, "Boomers & Millennials: Planning for Changing Demographics in the Bay Area," bringing together students, alumni and professionals to discuss a planning topic critical for the success of future communities.

Design Connect and the Urban Planning Coalition received $1,125 in donation from our sponsoring APA divisions. Thank you to these divisions and to the volunteers who served on this year's jury:

2015 Award Fund Contributors

County Planning Division

Economic Development Division

Housing & Community Development Division

Planning and the Black Community Division

Planning and Women Division

Private Practice Division

Small Town and Rural Planning Division

Transportation Planning Division

Urban Design & Preservation Division

2014

Congratulations to the University of Michigan's Urban Planning Student Association (UPSA), winner of APA's 2014 Outstanding PSO Award.

UPSA's "Expanded Horizons" event was planned by second-year Master of Urban Planning students as a way of introducing incoming first-year students to a diverse set of topics and opportunities in the field of planning. The goal is to "expand the horizons" of graduate students who want to make a difference in helping cities grow and change in a way that promotes sustainability and social justice. This year's event took place in Toronto where students attended several site visits with companies and organizations doing work related to urban planning.

UPSA was recognized during the APA/AICP Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, April 29, at the 2014 National Planning Conference in Atlanta. UPSA received $1,150 in donations from sponsoring APA Divisions, including the County Planning Division, Housing and Community Development Division, Transportation Planning Division, and Urban Design and Preservation Division.

Read the project description (pdf)

Read the event packet from this project (pdf)

2012

The SRC Award Jury selected the following entries to receive the fifth annual SRC awards.

The winning planning student organization (PSO) were recognized at the 2012 APA National Planning Conference in Los Angeles. This award also included $1,000 to each PSO to support its activities.

Best Practices

University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill Planners' Forum

The students are recognized for two events:

Divided Cities and Regions: Consensus Policy Conference
This impressive symposium featured nationally recognized academics, practicing professionals, and student presentations centered on consensus building and conflict resolution.

Pecha Kucha Presentations on Internships
These events gave first-year students an opportunity to hear about the types of internships available and allowed second-years to share their summer work experiences.

See photos from this project (pdf)

Read the students' project description (pdf)

Honorable Mention

University of Iowa, School of Urban and Regional Planning, Urban and Regional Planning Student Association

National Community Planning Month Events
Students organized two events to raise student awareness of ideological attacks on planning and how to address them appropriately in public forums. They were inspired by a presentation by Robin Rather, a communications consultant hired by APA to research sustainability and planning.

Learn more about this project

Read the students' project description (pdf)

2011

The SRC Award Jury selected the following entry to receive the fourth annual SRC award.

The winning planning student organization (PSO) was recognized at the 2011 APA National Planning Conference in Boston. This award also included $1,000 to each PSO to support its activities.

Best Practices

Organization of Cornell Planners, Cornell University

Beyond Boundaries brought together a housing planner from the City of Portland, Oregon; the Director of the Hudson River Valley Greenway, which establishes conservation lands through voluntary regional cooperation; and the principal regional planner from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP). They discussed the strategies employed by their organizations to build public support and input for public housing, transportation, equity and climate change issues. They demonstrated how communities engaged with these issues often face constraints or pressures from outside their local structures and how participation and coordination at the broader regional level helps a community meet its needs, share its stressors and enjoy a larger voice in the planning scenario.

Moving Forward, a widely popular event, brought together three nationally recognized experts in non-motorized transportation from research, advocacy and planning practice backgrounds to engage with students, faculty and community members around advances and ideas in policy and physical planning related to "active" transportation. Active transportation planning is a rapidly emerging topic that buttresses crucial community concerns through the development of physical plans that support personally powered transport. The related concerns deal with energy security, health, climate change, smart growth principles and neighborhood scale design, conservation lands, and corridor planning.

Project: Realizing a desire within the Cornell community to engage in applied-planning discussion, the Organization of Cornell Planners (OCP) chose to provide two forums where practitioners could demonstrate real planning successes and reflect on challenges faced by those in the field.

View a photo collage of the events (pdf)

Read the projects' letters of support (pdf)

2010

The SRC Award Jury selected the following entries to receive the third annual SRC awards.

Each winning planning student organization (PSO) was recognized at the 2010 APA National Planning Conference in New Orleans. This award also included $1,000 to each PSO to support its activities.

Best Practices

Organization of Cornell Planners, Cornell University
Social Justice and Unincorporated Communities: A Symposium

Project: The Organization of Cornell Planners (OCP) organized and sponsored a one-day symposium entitled: Social Justice and Unincorporated Communities: A Symposium, held on Friday, October 23 at Cornell University. We invited three speakers from across the country to discuss how cities and towns have been deliberately excluding disadvantaged communities from incorporating into their jurisdiction, rendering them without basic services such as water and sewer connections and police and fire protection. Without these basic services, people who live in these communities are hindered from the opportunity to live in safe, clean neighborhoods and benefit from the wealth-building potential of increasing property values. As cities become more fiscally strapped, these methods are increasingly justified under economic pretenses. Unfortunately, planners have been involved in these activities of municipal exclusion.

The members of OCP saw an innovative opportunity for students to catalyze a larger discussion in the planning community about municipal exclusion. By bringing together three different professionals that work on different aspects of the issue, including a community organizer, a legal researcher, and an associate at an advocacy think tank, to talk with students across the Cornell campus about this phenomenon, this enabled not only the professionals to conceptualize the topic in different ways but exposed students to an emerging issue in the planning field. OCP recognized the importance of the university in fostering these budding conversations about imminent issues in the field and used the symposium as an opportunity to launch the issue into a more mainstream discussion in the greater planning community. Furthermore, OCP recognized the pivotal role that students have in challenging the status quo of the field and encouraging more discussion about difficult, and often divisive issues.

Symposium Poster (pdf)

Community Outreach

Graduate Planning Student Association, University at Buffalo
Buffalo Urban Planners (BuffaloUP)

Project: The association collaborated with a local NGO to teach local middle school students the fundamentals of community planning using the neighborhood surrounding schools as a living laboratory. Students learn about planning and design in the context of their own neighborhood and are engaged to discuss the implications of design and the role of their community.

Project poster (pdf)

Project application (pdf)

2010 Award Fund Contributors

County Planning Division

Economic Development Division

Federal Planning Division

Housing & Community Development Division

Private Practice Division

Urban Design & Preservation Division

Ramona Mullahey

2009

The SRC Award Jury selected the following entries to receive the 2nd annual SRC awards in 2009.

Each winning planning student organization (PSO) were recognized at the 2009 APA National Planning Conference in Minneapolis. This award also included $1,000 to each PSO to support its activities.

Funding for this year's awards was provided by the following APA Divisions: City Planning and Management, County Planning, Environment, Natural Resources, and Energy, Federal Planning, Planning and Women, Economic Development, Housing and Community Development, New Urbanism, Private Practice, and Urban Design and Preservation.

Community Outreach

University of California – Irvine
Planning Student Organization

Projects: Upper Newport Bay Restoration and Neighborhood Pride Day – Santa Ana

Read about the PSO's winning projects (pdf)

Best Practices

New York University
Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service
Urban Planning Student Association

Project: Student Conference – Planning Ahead: Opportunities for Professional Growth

NY Metro Newsletter: September-October 2008 (pdf)

APA Student Conference Program (pdf)

Chapter Involvement

University of Colorado Denver
School of Architecture and Planning
Masters Program Urban and Regional Planning
American Planning Association Colorado Student Chapter

Project: PSO Green Committee contributions to APA Colorado Chapter Conference

Read about the PSO's winning project (pdf)