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Equitable Community Planning Toolkit

The Fourth Economy Equitable Community Planning Toolkit is the result of ongoing research, and contains resources developed to help leaders progress through their equitable planning goals and actions. It includes information on how communities across the United States are rising to meet the equity imperative, as well as tools to apply promising practices and systems change processes in your community.


There is a growing interest and momentum in equitable community planning. The toolkit is designed for communities who may be at the beginning stages of equity planning as well as those where equity coalitions, groups, plans, and actions are well underway.

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A Call to Action

Equity is vital for true economic development. 

By addressing inequities across lines of race and income, cities, regions, and countries can experience long-term economic success and prosperity for their community as a whole. For example, if the United States works to close the racial equity gap by 2050,  it could realize an $8 trillion gain in GDP 


That said, we focus on “development” that aligns with progress and innovation, rather than a mere expansion or increase in numbers. From our perspective, the biggest goal of community planning for equitable economic development is to make sure that individuals have the power to enact positive change and reap the benefits of economic development initiatives.

Friends in the City

About the Toolkit

The toolkit is designed to help you and your community implement equitable community planning practices by taking a holistic approach to understanding the opportunities and issues.


We continue to review and integrate a growing body of available resources to complement and support communities on the equitable development journey. Our toolkit focuses on an approachable step-by-step framework for tackling systems change, accompanied by templates, resources, and promising practices, so your community can take action.

Because we continually learn and evolve our equity work, this toolkit is designed as a dynamic resource that we will continue to update. 

Who Should Use the Toolkit?

Economic Development Practitioners

Community Development Practitioners

Chambers of Commerce

Philanthropists and Foundations

Community Nonprofit Leaders

Public Policy Leaders

Toolkit Overview: What's Inside

The toolkit provides our Equitable Community Planning Framework, which includes four steps to approaching systems change. These steps include analyzing systems and their components, developing interventions, and creating meaningful change.

It also provides activities and resources, organized into four workbooks corresponding to each step of the framework, to help you and your community take action.

Identify and Understand the Work



Identify and Engage Community Members



Identify, Evaluate, and Implement the Methods



Identify and Measure Outcomes


The framework, activities, and resources will help you analyze and create change around:

  • The makeup of community systems, including their components and the ways they interact

  • Principles, policies, and programs that create inequities vs. those that enable systems to thrive

  • Benefactors and beneficiaries of equitable community systems

  • Intended and unintended outcomes of systems not optimized to consider equity

To learn more:


Advancing Equity

The toolkit is complemented by a series of Fourth Economy blog posts that describe equitable planning in action in communities. They are organized by topic area, to demonstrate real-life scenarios of people applying the systems change process, provide additional information and inspiration to act, and support you as your community uses the toolkit workbooks. 

This ongoing series will cover subjects including: housing, placemaking, small businesses, environment, transportation, health, infrastructure, public services, education, and finance.

How have you used the Toolkit?
Do you have a success story to share?

Reach out to contribute your own ideas and examples to showcase

City Crosswalk

Access the Toolkit

Enter your details below. You will be redirected to the toolkit upon submission.


Fourth Economy's Equitable Development Work

Electric Mobility for All in the Pittsburgh Region
Duquesne Light

Electric Mobility for All in the Pittsburgh Region

Black-Owned Business Support Ecosystem

Black-Owned Business Support Ecosystem

Economic Competitiveness and Inclusion Plan
Ramsey County Community & Economic Development

Economic Competitiveness and Inclusion Plan

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