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I Love Where I Live!

“CPI demystifies the process of planning by pointing you to the resources necessary to make changes in your neighborhood. Whether you are a seasoned neighborhood leader or a new resident eager to be more active in the community CPI will help you in envisioning the necessary steps to create and follow through on a plan.” --Fall 2013 participant 

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Citizens Planning Institute (CPI) is the education and outreach arm of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission.

CPI’s main programming is an eight-week course that empowers citizens to take a more effective and active role in shaping the future of their neighborhoods and of Philadelphia through a greater understanding of city planning and the steps involved in development projects. The course includes seven evening classes: a class orientation, three introductory classes on planning issues and principles, land use and zoning, and the development process; and three electives, the topics for which change every session.

The course runs every Spring and Fall.

Each participant is also required to complete a final project in order to earn their Certificate of Completion as a Philadelphia Citizen Planner, which they receive at a public ceremony.

To date, over 600 participants representing over 125 different neighborhoods have completed CPI! Read what our graduates have said about the program.

Planning In Philadelphia

The Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC) is an independent agency of the Philadelphia city government. PCPC is comprised of professional planners who typically have a Bachelor's or Master's degree in Urban Planning. Their work includes:

  • Attending community meetings to understand local interests
  • Reviewing choices the city makes about buying and selling land
  • Making recommendations about land use, zoning and new building projects to City Council, the Zoning Board of Adjustment, and other agencies.
  • Recommending how to distribute scarce city funds for public facilities.
  • Creating and implementing plans that reflect community vision.
Philadelphia 2035

In June 2011, the PCPC approved the city's first comprehensive plan since 1960: Philadelphia 2035. A comprehensive plan is a citywide plan presenting a vision for future development and changes in the city. Visit the Phila2035 website to read the plan and learn more. 

District Plans

PCPC is now working on the second phase of the comprehensive plan, 18 district plans with more detailed recommendations with a 10-year implementation timeline.

Citizen Involvement

The process of each District Plan included three public meetings to make sure residents have a voice in creating the plan. Visit the District Plans page of Phila2035 to find District plans.

Residents can participate in their local civic association that reviews neighborhood zoning cases, known as Registered Community Organizations (RCO). For a list of RCOSs, visit the Planning Commission website. 

Last, but not least, residents can apply to become Citizen Planners! 


Thanks to a generous grant from the William Penn Foundation, a Pilot course for CPI was developed and delivered in November 2010. 

The program has run the course biannually since then.


Philadelphia City Planning Commission's "integrated planning and zoning process" which includes CPI, won the 2013 National Planning Excellence Award for a Best Practice from the American Planning Association (APA).

CPI Director Donna J. Carney was recognized with a 2014 Planning Leadership Award from the Pennsylvania chapter of the APA.

The Philadelphia City Planning Commission won the 2016 APA National Planning Excellence Award for a Planning Agency.


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Become a Citizen Planner

Spring 2021 applications are now closed. Successful applicants will be notified on March 29. Sign-up for our email updates at the bottom of the page.

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2020 Update

CPI Strategic Vision

CPI Advisory Board and staff have refreshed the program's Strategic Vision and updated program history. View the goals and actions in the expanded 2017 Strategic Vision below! 2020 UPDATE added

Program Supporters

We would like to thank our sponsors, BB&T,  PennDesign,  WHYY, Philly PHLASH Downtown Loop™, the Knight Foundation and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission for helping CPI maintain and grow its mission! 

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Donate to CPI

Make a Donation

Click this button to go CPI's page on the Fund for Philadelphia's website. Thank you!

CPI has also received funding support from the following:

  • William Penn Foundation
  • City of Philadelphia’s Office of Housing and Community Development
  • U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency & Conservation Block Grant program
  • Philadelphia Commerce Department
Partner with us!

Want to partner with or support CPI?

Contact CPI Director Donna Carney for more information at 215-683-4640 or

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