Ensuring Diversity in Planning: APA Foundation

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As our communities navigate a global pandemic and seek long-denied justice and equality, planning is more important than ever. And it is critical that planning as a profession includes the voices and perspectives of those from historically undervalued and underserved populations to help the country move forward with strength, resilience, and equity.

Since 2015, the APA Foundation has been committed to making the planning profession more diverse and accessible by offering scholarships to planning students from underrepresented communities. By this fall, the Foundation will have awarded $115,000 in scholarships to deserving students with diverse backgrounds and identities, but there is more work to do.

Although scholarships are just one piece of the broader change needed in our profession, your contribution can help us support more emerging planners and address inequities in planning and our communities. If you can, please make a one-time or recurring donation today.


APA Foundation Scholars advance social equity in the profession and in communities by bringing diverse perspectives to their studies and work. Meet two recent scholars below and learn more about all APA Foundation scholarship winners.

  • Laier-Rayshon Smith, Graduate Student, Harvard University: Growing up in Pittsburgh, Laier-Rayshon Smith was struck by the inequality among residents — inspiring him to make change through pursuing a planning career. Smith works to achieve equitable communities through intersections of social interaction, policy, design, and the decision-making processes that formulate the built environment
  • Vanessa Toro Barragan, Graduate Student, Massachusetts Institute of Technology: As a Latina born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Vanessa Toro Barragan plans to leverage her complex identities to find opportunities for social transportation toward equitable and just cities. Barragan is inspired by her thesis work that allows her to push for cities designed by diverse identities, experiences, and knowledge. 


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