Equitable Development / Brownfields Planning

Groundwork USA’s equitable development services build readiness in disinvested communities to adaptively lead more inclusive planning initiatives, projects, and programs.

Our approach, informed by the Groundwork model and akin community development training programs, aims to:

  • Correct historic and systemic disparities
  • Engage local stakeholders meaning fully in project planning, prioritization, and implementation over time
  • Achieve environmental justice
  • Encourage more equitable development planning processes and outcomes

Our technical assistance services include:

  • Feasibility assessment of project and program opportunities identified in a community’s brownfield area wide planning process
  • Design and sequencing of place-based strategies that build momentum and sustain catalytic brownfield transformations for community benefit
  • Development and leadership of tactical, locally based work groups that encourage adaptive leadership and formation of coalitions and partnerships to jointly pursue brownfield redevelopment outcomes responsive to on-the-ground needs

To implement this program, Groundwork USA partners with Training and Development Associates (TDA Consulting, Inc.), a national, technical assistance and training provider that provides professional services, develops training curricula, and delivers workshops related to community development programs and activities.



With multi-year funding from the EPA Brownfields program, we provide technical assistance and a community of practice for nonprofit and municipal practitioners in all brownfield-affected communities, especially those receiving EPA brownfield assessment, cleanup, and area wide planning grants.

direct technical assistance

Are you interested in GWUSA’s Direct Technical Assistance?
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Our Technical Assistance Client Communities

Baltimore, MD
Working with City Hall to engage residents in the visioning and reclamation of vacant land in East and West Baltimore

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    • Building baseline competency in common among nonprofit and municipal practitioners around brownfield assessment, cleanup, and reuse, with a focus on projects delivering tangible impact on marginalized and disinvested neighborhoods


    • Cultivating readiness amongst nonprofit and municipal stakeholders for developing and leading a coalition-driven community engagement strategy focused on brownfield assessment, cleanup, and “greening” reuse for community benefit in East and West Baltimore


  • Designing a collaborative community engagement process around brownfield assessment, cleanup, and “greening” reuse in East and West Baltimore to be led by City of Baltimore and two local nonprofit organizations


Toledo, OH
Transitioning from area-wide planning to implementation

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    • Building capacity of key nonprofit stakeholder in Toledo’s 2013 EPA-funded Brownfield Area-Wide Planning process to lead project and program implementation strategies responsive to local needs and priorities identified in the planning process


    • Providing turn-key environmental youth development program module to engage young people in job readiness and job training to launch in summer 2016


    • Designing a strategy to kick-start and sustain a “brownfield reuse for community benefit” project focused on reclaiming vacant and contaminated parcels in Toledo’s Cherry Street neighborhood


  • Fostering a coalition approach to developing and implementing policies and best practices for minimizing and/or eliminating lead exposure and poisoning among young children playing on vacant lots reclaimed as parks, community gardens and urban farm operations


National City, CA
Building capacity for leading a brownfield-to-park project

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    • Developing capacity and partnership strategy of nonprofit organization for leading its robust environmental justice constituency through a dynamic community engagement process that would inform a City-driven TOD brownfield redevelopment project featuring a new park and a community garden, as well as new housing and transit amenities


  • Testing the feasibility of various “brownfield for community benefit” project implementation strategies identified as priorities in a 2013 EPA-funded Brownfield Area-Wide Planning process


Portland, ME
Engaging “hard to reach” refugee/immigrant populations

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    • Building a coalition of local partners led by Greater Portland Council of Governments, which received a 2015 EPA Brownfield Area-Wide Planning grant, to focus planning and implementation strategies on the city’s East Bayside environmental justice neighborhood


  • Designing and coaching local partners to lead a robust process that reaches and engages the adjacent diverse immigrant and working class constituencies in the Area-Wide Planning process and in the ultimate implementation of cleanup, reuse and community benefit strategies identified as priorities


Featured Resources
Groundwork usa webinar recording

Youth and Brownfields

Explores how to engage the next generation meaningfully in planning and implementation

Online Guide

Detroit Future Cities: Working with Lots

Visually stimulating, practical ideas for reclaiming vacant lots

Online article

5 Things to Know About Communities of Color and Environmental Justice

If you work in marginalized communities, you’re already in the know, but this piece from the Center for American Progress is chock-full of helpful data and statistics to refer to when you are pressed to justify your efforts or when writing a grant proposal.

View all resources