This paper focuses on what can be learned from the Partnership for Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program, which has awarded $195 million since 2010 supporting the development and implementation of regional plans addressing issues across transportation, environmental protection, and housing.

The study finds that the Planning Grant Program helped its local grantees to break down barriers to collaboration within government and across sectors by incentivizing them to:

  • Create new collaborative structures, which intensified the representation of stakeholders typically left out of decision-making processes and supported deeper community engagement
  • Broaden the range of substantive areas actively considered in regional plans, including affordable housing, economic development, transit access, public health, and the environment
  • Expand the resources devoted to collaborative regional planning processes, and
  • Diversify participation across jurisdictional boundaries (e.g., by promoting engagement between city, suburban and exurban governments).