Citizens Planning Institute Logo
Happy 2023!
Photograph of the CPI-in-a-box prototype with animated stars twinkling in the top-left corner
Winter is a time of rest and renewal—a good time to plan for and selectively choose the projects and activities that will most energize you this year.  
Last fall, CPI offered FIVE online classes for alumni only. This spring we’ll be doing that again, while we revamp the CPI course in hopeful anticipation of being able to hold IN-PERSON classes in the Fall.  

Our focus this spring is getting feedback on our pilot product, CPI in a Box! Haven't heard of CPI in a box yet? Check it out on the CPI website.
Selfie image of Veronica (left) and Donna (right) at the CPI-in-a-box giveaway
Image of Donna (left) and two Citizen Planners (center and right) at the CPI-in-a-box giveaway event
Graphic: headshot of Citizen Planner Ulicia Lawrence-Oladeinde with a quote to her left in support of CPI-in-a-box.
Welcoming New Staff & Board Members
Nicole Simonsen headshot
Nicole Simonsen,
Community Initiative Support Specialist

We are excited to introduce you to our new Community Initiative Support Specialist, Nicole Simonsen, who is the first of five more staffers to come onboard at the Planning Commission in this role. Nicole, along with the other Community Support Specialists, will be assisting all staff in the work of community relationship building. Nicole brings her experience with direct service programs and passion for community engagement to this role. She previously worked for PowerCorpsPHL and TreePhilly, in addition to a re-entry organization in North Carolina. Welcome, Nicole! 
Molly Pollak, Intern

We’re also welcoming our spring intern, Molly Pollak! Molly is a graduate student at Temple University studying City and Regional Planning. Before joining Temple, they spent three years as the communications associate at Community Legal Services, creating digital know-your-rights resources and sharing them online. They are excited to be joining CPI, and to bring together their interests in planning and commitment to transparent and accessible communications!  
Nic Esposito, Board Member

Nic Esposito is a writer, publisher, community activist, urban farmer and circular economy professional. Nic has served as the City of Philadelphia's Zero Waste and Litter Director and the East Kensington Neighbors Association President. He is currently the Director of Operations for Grid Magazine and the Director of Policy and Engagement for Circular Philadelphia. Nic is the founder and former board president of the non-profit bookstore and publishing company The Head & The Hand and co-manager of Emerald Street Community Farm in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. Nic is excited to talk about how the circular economy in Philadelphia will make businesses more profitable and sustainable by eliminating waste, reusing resources, and creating more interconnected communities and marketplaces. 
Stewart Scott, Board Member

Stewart Scott is a Philadelphia native interested in the role of affordable housing development in community revitalization. He currently works as an Assistant Project Manager at Diamond and Associates, supporting affordable housing projects. Stewart worked in many positions in Philadelphia’s community development sector, including Project HOME and Impact Services Corporation. 

Stewart holds a Master of City Planning from University of Pennsylvania and a Certificate in Real Estate Development and Design. During his time at Penn, he interned at Philadelphia City Planning Commission, Pennrose, and Urban Land Institute Philadelphia. Stewart currently lives in West Philadelphia, and enjoys taking strolls through the neighborhood and exploring Philadelphia’s foodie scene. 
Upcoming Opportunities
Photograph of three people at a clean-up event with large text reading "Soak It Up Adoption" across the image
Receive a grant to beautify green stormwater infrastructure and engage neighbors! 

The Philadelphia Water Department is seeking local organizations who can join the Soak It Up Adoption program in early 2023.  

The Soak It Up Adoption program creates capacity-building opportunities for community members like you to become ambassadors of Green City, Clean Waters—a 25-year initiative to improve the quality of waterways by installing green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) in our neighborhoods, coupled with traditional infrastructure enhancements. The program pays eligible organizations, such as social or environmental non-profits, Registered Community Organizations (RCO), and faith-based groups, to regularly care for rain gardens, tree trenches, bump-outs, and other green infrastructure in their neighborhoods. 

Contact Manager Dan Schuspky at with questions.
Bread and Roses Community Fund logo
Apply for a Bread and Roses community fund Grant! 

The Racial & Economic Justice Fund  is a core fund at Bread & Roses that makes $10,000 grants to grassroots groups in the Philadelphia region that use community organizing and take collective action and fight for racial and economic justice at the local, state, national, or international levels.

The Future Fund  provides $5,000 grants to groups that are working on emerging issues or developing new approaches to social justice activism or community organizing. These groups may employ one or more effective strategies, such as cultural work, media advocacy, and political education. Groups who have received grants from the Future Fund in the past may reapply. 

Applications are due March 1, 2023.
AARP logo
Join the AARP Community Challenge! 

The AARP Community Challenge provides small grants to fund quick-action projects that can help communities throughout the U.S. become more livable for people of all ages—especially those age 50 and older. In 2023, the AARP Community Challenge is accepting applications across three different grant opportunities: Flagship Grants focus on improving public places, transportation, housing, diversity/equity and inclusion, digital connections, community resilience, civic engagement, and community health and economic empowerment. Capacity-Building Microgrants, new in 2023, fund projects that improve walkability and community gardens. Demonstration Grants, also new in 2023, fund projects that build capacity towards transportation systems change and build awareness of new housing options through accessory dwelling unit design competitions. Nonprofit organizations and government entities are eligible to apply. Other organizations will be considered on a case-by-case basis.  

Applications are due March 15, 2023.
Philadelphia Permit Navigator logo
The new Permit Navigator tool can help you figure out what permits you need!

SmartCityPHL at Office of Innovation + Tech in partnership with the Departments of Commerce, L+I and Planning & Development launched Permit Navigator - a digital tool to help businesses and residents determine what permits are need for specific types of uses or construction. Permit Navigator is a pilot project created with the team at Opencounter.

The goal is to give clear guidance on what tends to be a complex response to a simple question "can I build X at Y location?" The tool lists the sequence for the necessary permits and their application fees. Feedback is welcome as to assess and improve the tool.

Walking College logo
Apply for the 2023 Pennsylvania Walking College Program!  

America Walks and AARP Pennsylvania are looking for walkable community advocates who are interested in honing their skills and developing a statewide network of peers and mentors. If you are working to increase walking and improve pedestrian safety in your community, consider applying for a Fellowship with the Pennsylvania State Walking College. 

Residents of Pennsylvania who are interested in the program and able to commit about 5 hours per week (May – September) are invited to complete the online application form by Tuesday, February 28th. Fellowships are limited and the application process is competitive. 
A group of people in helmets posing and smiling together
Indego is looking for Ambassadors!

For seven years, Indego bike share has provided Philadelphians access to bikes throughout the city, growing its fleets to more than 190 stations and 1,900 bikes. The City of Philadelphia’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability and Indego have run a successful Community Ambassador Program for several years as a way to connect more communities to bike share. The theme for the 2023 Season is “Confidence to Ride with Indego.” The deadline to apply is February 28. 
Wheels to Work logo
Applications are open for Wheels to Work!  

Indego has teamed up with the Better Bike Share Partnership and the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability to launch Wheels to Work, a 5-week training course for adult job seekers that combines workforce development with learning about Indego and bicycling. 

Participants will learn skills including building their resume and LinkedIn page, while completing assignments related to Indego and bike safety education. Individuals who complete the program will receive a free six-month pass to Indego! 
Walking the Edge promotional graphic featuring artwork from the exhibition
Discover Walking the Edge, the new community exhibit at The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education! 

Walking the Edge is an exhibit about our borders and boundaries and what we encounter when we set out to explore the world around us, featuring the work of over 100 artists. Come visit the exhibit, or join one of several in-person and virtual events, including ten days of facilitated walks around the city's entire perimeter in conjunction with the 11th Walk Around Philadelphia

Check out the exhibit now through April 1!
Black and white artwork featuring icons of houses repeating in a grid with shadows extending into the background
Register for the Housing Justice Futures Forum! 

Join experts from across the nation for the University of Pennsylvania’s Housing Justice Futures: Philadelphia Forum on Design, Race, and Climate Change on March 16 - 17.

As we contend with our moral and ethical responsibility for the wellbeing of people and the planet, this forum will consider housing design and policy at the intersection of race and climate change. Engaging researchers, and practitioners, and community stakeholders, we will examine the historical inequities that precipitated the housing crisis in Philadelphia and other US cities while considering actionable strategies for housing justice in the future.
Members of the Building Hero Project posing with wood structures and building materials
Apply for the Building Hero Project! 

The Building Hero Project is a community design leadership initiative for youth and adults to become skilled leaders and change agents, empowering them to help make their neighborhoods and Philadelphia better place to live through design.

Participants in the Building Hero Training Program have an opportunity to hone their design, building, leadership and entrepreneurship skills through learning how to make six different products for their homes and completing one building-oriented service project for a local non-profit. The program is 8-weeks long and will run from March 21 - May 11. The course is FREE and open to individuals ages 14 and up.

The deadline to apply is March 1.
Apply to the Philadelphia City Fund! 

The Philadelphia City Fund (formerly the Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia) is accepting applications for charitable community projects that focus on this year's theme: Health Equity for All. The Fund will consider proposals that clearly demonstrate efforts to eliminate health disparities, promote the health of Philadelphia’s communities, and safeguard residents from threats the cause disease, injury, and poor health outcomes. They have a total of $250,000 to distribute, with individual grants requests limited to $25,000.

The deadline to apply is March 7.
Job Opportunities
The Institute for Sustainable Communities is hiring a Senior Program Officer to advance equitable climate solutions through projects and programs across the United States. 
The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia is hiring Better Bike Share Educators to educate and teach the community how to ride bicycles and help lead bicycle group rides using Indego bike share. Apply by March 1. 
Philadelphia Parks and Recreation is hiring a Business Development Manager to help develop new relationships to create even more public experiences and activations. 
The Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership is hiring an Environmental Educator to lead nature-based activities and lessons for youth and adults. 
Asian Americans United is hiring an Executive Director
Local Initiatives Support Corporation is hiring a Program Officer for Lending and an Assistant Program Officer, Economic Development
Village of Arts and Humanities is hiring a Project Director for Advancing Equity Through Public Safety to address the harms of policing and cultivate community safety outside the criminal legal system. Apply by February 28. 
New Economy Coalition is hiring a Donor Engagement Director. Apply by February 23. 
HACE is hiring a Livability Academy Coordinator as well as several Community Connectors.  Rolling Deadline.

The City of Philadelphia is hiring a Director of Budget Equity and Engagement to help lead the Budget Office's work on community engagement, public education about the budget process, and assessing the budget for its equity impacts.
Consider making a tax-deductible contribution! Click "support this project" on the CPI page on the Philadelphia City Fund website.
Donations will go towards scholarships, printing Citizens Toolkits, hosting more Neighborhood Exchanges, increasing support for CPI alumni, and expand CPI programming beyond the biannual course.