The Oakland planning process centers on the key tenets of equity and sustainability as the major challenges of our time. If we are unable to address the challenges of structural racism, inequity, and climate change, our progress on other topics will be undone. The City of Pittsburgh's Neighborhood Plan Guide provides much of the structure for the Oakland Plan process and incorporates these two lenses throughout all topics from equitable economic development to urban sustainable design.

This neighborhood planning process is an example of people willing to learn about others’ experiences and goals, and bringing their own expertise and passion into the project. This is a chance to have a positive impact on each other and create change for the community’s future.
-- Josiah Gilliam, My Brother’s Keeper Coordinator at the City of Pittsburgh

What do we mean by "equity"?

This project uses the definition of equity established in the City of Pittsburgh's Public Engagement Guide.

Equity is when everyone has access to the opportunities necessary to satisfy their essential needs, advance their wellbeing and achieve their full potential.

The Department of City Planning recognizes that it is the responsibility of the City to engage all communities and seek out voices of underserved and underrepresented people. City Planning will approach all projects through an equity lens, a critical thinking approach to undoing institutional and structural racism. An equity lens evaluates burdens, benefits, and outcomes to underserved communities.

In utilizing this technique, the project team will:

  • Identify disproportionately adverse effects our work may have on any community, particularly on low-income populations and communities of color.
  • Recognize the ways communities’ needs can influence planning, investment, implementation, and enforcement processes.

As an organization that seeks to counter a community legacy of inequity, we commit to:

  • Understand and counter the impacts and causes of bias that include racism and white supremacy, learned patterns of oppression, and the strong connection between poverty, homelessness and race.
  • Continue our growth into an intentionally anti-bias, anti-racist organization that actively aligns with community-based efforts to overcome inequality and its roots in racism and oppression.
  • Confront and challenge all forms of institutional oppression within our organization so that staff and those who partner with us will experience Human Solutions as truly inclusive. We will create the time and space to continue learning vital lessons, to do the urgent work necessary to counter the centuries-old and still-active forces that block opportunity for people of color and other oppressed people.
  • Acknowledge who holds power in our organization, whose voices shape our decisions and who is not “in the room.” We will work constantly and vigorously to address disparities within our own ranks.

This work benefited tremendously from the early involvement of Alyssa Lyon, the Director of the Black Environmental Collective at the Urban Kind Institute. She served on the project during 2020 as the Sustainable Communities Manager for the Green Building Alliance working with Josiah and the rest of the staff team to develop the equity approach. We are eternally grateful for her wisdom, passion, humor, and many contributions.

Our approach

During Fall 2019 and Winter 2020, the project team worked with the Steering Committee to establish shared goals for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the planning process. These discussions led to an equity strategy that has been integrated into the planning and process and intentionally engages underrepresented and marginalized groups in Oakland.

Groups identified in Oakland include:

  • African-American residents
  • University students
  • Immigrants and newcomers

The Oakland Plan's equity strategy includes the following components to understand and plan to overcome inequities in the groups above:

  • Staff: Staff from the Office of Equity and Green Building Alliance took on this important work. In addition to the items below, staff are working to understand how programs and partnerships can benefit this work such as the City of Pittsburgh's role in the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) and Welcoming Pittsburgh.
  • Technical Advisory Group: Convening a Technical Advisory Group that consists of interested Oakland stakeholders and citywide professionals working working on behalf these groups to provide advice as needed on how equity should be incorporated into various aspects of the planning process.
  • Equity Workshops: Specific events are being planned throughout the planning process as a way for Action Teams, staff, and the Steering Committee to learn and develop a strong equity approach.
  • Intentional Language: The plan's vision statement, goals, and strategies will include language that explicitly calls out inequities and identifies how they will be addressed. These will be highlighted at each stage in the planning process.
  • Advocacy Organizations: Professional advocacy organizations that represent marginalized and disadvantages groups were invited to participate in Action Teams and provide their expertise and experiences as a way to improve the outcomes of the planning process.

Tracking progress

As we undertake this work, we will report on our progress under the tabs below.

Technical Advisory Group

Technical Advisory Group

The Equity Technical Advisory Group (TAG) is comprised of individuals who represent the disadvantaged groups above including leaders from the student, resident, and business communities as well as non-profit advocates.

The TAG are working with staff to review 3-4 strategies from each Action Team. Members are asked to view strategies through the lens of the group(s) they represent in order to:

  • Improve the scope and nature strategies to better overcome inequities and better detail what success looks like in terms of equity;
  • Identify any related inequities that staff should be aware of related to the topic;
  • Help avoid any pitfalls; and
  • Help reduce the potential for unintended consequences that might create further inequities as a result of implementing the strategy.

Meeting Topics and Materials

The Meeting Notes below were recorded by staff during the Equity TAG meetings. For the first two meetings, 3-4 strategies from each Action Team were reviewed and discussed using the framework above. A third meeting was added to allow the group to return to some of the discussions from the previous meetings in more detail and develop additional recommendations for staff to integrate into the draft plan. Presentations for each of the meetings below can be found in the "Document Library" in the right-hand column of this page.

Meeting #1 (10/27/2021) - Topics: Mobility and Infrastructure draft strategies

Meeting #2 (11/3/2021) - Topics: Community and Development draft strategies

Meeting #3 (11/9/2021) - Topics: Digging deeper into strategies, additional recommendations

Meeting Notes

Loading Conversation

Equity Workshops

Equity Workshops

Staff are leading workshops throughout the next year of the planning process. These are briefly outlined below. More details will be added to this section as they are created.

  • Summer 2020: the first workshop focused on staff leading the Action Teams and was an opportunity to start the process of understanding the potential for their topic areas to overcome past inequities.
  • Fall 2020 and Winter 2021: workshops were held for each Action Team with a focus on increasing awareness of the topic, and understanding where the Action Team members were in their own understanding of the issues involved. Initial ideas for equity goals were established.

We view this commitment as an ongoing process through which each Action Team will periodically:

  • Examine where you are: action team reflects on current state of equity within respective topic;
  • Map your route: action team redirects priorities based on new shared information, state of the nation, etc.; and
  • Ask your stakeholders for direction: action team consults members on new priorities and progresses accordingly.

Advocacy Organizations

Advocacy Organizations

Staff worked with the Steering Committee to identify advocacy organizations that represented groups identified as "hard to reach" in the City of Pittsburgh's Public Engagement Guide. These groups are noted below and were invited to be involved in the planning process. Many started participating as early as Fall 2020.


  • 1Hood Media
  • Gwen's Girls and Black Girls Equity Alliance
  • CMU Black Grad Student Organization
  • CMU Latino/a Graduate Student Association
  • CMU Indian Graduate Student Association
  • Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh
  • Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation
  • Latino Community Center


  • Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group
  • One Pennsylvania
  • JFCS
  • Women's Center


  • Acculturation for Justice, Access, and Peace Outreach
  • Casa San Jose
  • Facilitating Opportunities for Refugee Growth and Empowerment (FORGE)
  • Hello Neighbor
  • Leadership Pittsburgh
  • Indian Community Center


  • Islamic Center of Pittsburgh
  • Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh
  • Jewish Community Center
  • Cathedral of Hope
  • Commonwealth of Pittsburgh Friendship Community Church St. Regis Church

Gender identity

  • SisTersPGH
  • Garden of Peace
  • Persad Center
  • Women and Girls Foundation

Sexual orientation

  • Proud Haven
  • Pennsylvania Youth Congress
  • PGH Equality Center
  • CMU CMQ+
  • SAGE Advocacy and Services for LGBT Elders


  • Oakland for All
  • Pittsburgh Center for Autistic Advocacy
  • AIDS Free Pittsburgh
  • Steel Smiling
  • Achieva

Access to housing

  • Action Housing
  • Open Hand Ministries
  • City of Bridges Community Land Trust
  • ReBuilding Together PGH
  • Homeless Children's Education Fund
  • NeighborWorks Western Pennsylvania


  • Jewish Association on Aging
  • Southwestern Pennsylvania Partnership for Aging