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NA TIG Week: Needs Assessments in City Planning: Examples from Four Cities – Saint Paul, Portland, Oklahoma City and Edmonton by Maurya West Meiers

I’m Maurya West Meiers. I work at the World Bank as a Senior Evaluation Officer and am coauthor of A Guide to Assessing Needs: Essential Tools for Collecting Information, Making Decisions, and Achieving Development Results (free World Bank book).

Needs assessments and planning go hand-in-hand. Recently I’ve been interested in needs assessments applied at the municipal/city level. Many cities are building impressive plans to deal with urbanization and a range of challenges have from transportation to affordable housing. This post shares some nice resources that I’ve gathered from some medium-sized cities (St. Paul, Portland, Oklahoma City, and Edmonton), along with some more general resources if you are interested in city planning and tools used to gather data for community needs.

Long Term Visions, Strategic Plans and “How To” Resources: Samples from Four North American Cities

Below are some good examples of strategic plans and tools from cities that will allow you to compare common and unique features across the plans. Many cities also produce ‘how to’ guides that accompany their plans and which detail the processes for developing the plans, also included below.

Saint Paul for All – 2040 Comprehensive Plan

Portland 2035

Oklahoma City – PlanOKC


Rad Resources: Sources of Inspiration for Applying Needs Assessment in City Contexts

I’m hopeful these plans from four cities will serve as inspiration for those of you interested in needs assessments in a city planning context. The ‘how to’ guides shared above focus heavily on engaging communities – citizens, businesspeople, and other stakeholders. Below are more resources worth investigating, including the University of Kansas Community Toolbox and links to two groups and their partners who focus on strengthening cities – Bloomberg Initiative and Rockefeller Foundation. Enjoy exploring these!

Community Tool Box at the University of Kansas (Explore the many tools and resources – beyond these two links – on this comprehensive site.)

What Works Cities – Bloomberg Initiative and its five expert partners on data and evidence: Results4America; Harvard Kennedy School – Government Performance Lab; Johns Hopkins GovEx; Behavioral Insights Team (BIT); Sunlight Foundation.

100 Resilient Cities – Rockefeller Foundation. This site provides many lessons from global cities involved with this initiative.


The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Needs Assessment (NA) TIG Week with our colleagues in the Needs Assessment Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our NA TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

1 thought on “NA TIG Week: Needs Assessments in City Planning: Examples from Four Cities – Saint Paul, Portland, Oklahoma City and Edmonton by Maurya West Meiers”

  1. hello Maurya,
    I am a graduate student at the University of Arizona College of Public Health who is looking to interview a professional in the field of evaluation. Are you available to answer a few questions I have for an assignment for class?
    Thanks in advance.

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