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What is UrbanPlan?

UrbanPlan is a realistic, engaging, and academically demanding classroom-based curriculum in which students learn about the fundamental forces that affect development in the United States. Students experience the challenging issues, private and public sector roles, complex trade-offs, and fundamental economics in play when proposing realistic land use solutions to vexing growth challenges.

UrbanPlan is a curriculum unit for core economics and government classes at the high school level and in land use and real estate courses at the university level. UrbanPlan includes a simulation classroom exercise in which students work in development teams to analyze and respond to a hypothetical “Request for Proposal” for the redevelopment of a blighted urban area. The ULI UrbanPlan National Director trains teachers to lead the three-week course and travels to District Councils to train volunteers who participate in the classroom.

Role of the District Councils

Through UrbanPlan’s 15 hour classroom curriculum, ULI members interact with students on a regular basis. As “facilitators” and experts in the land use profession, the members challenge students to think critically about the UrbanPlan issues and the specific responsibilities of the students’ assigned roles as finance directors, marketing directors, city liaisons, neighborhood liaisons, and site planners. ULI members also serve on a “city council” to judge the teams’ proposals and select the winning team. District Council staff and UrbanPlan committees are responsible for:

  • Recruiting appropriate teachers;
  • Covering the cost of the teachers’ training;
  • Providing the computers and UrbanPlan supplies for each classroom;
  • Bringing the UrbanPlan National Director to their city to train volunteers (10–15 needed per class); and
  • Scheduling the volunteers for UrbanPlan classes.


The cost of bringing the program to a District Council region typically runs about $5,000. ULI strongly advises that the program only run in one classroom in the first academic year. Operating the program each year typically costs $1,000 to $15,000 depending in large part on the amount of staff time involved.

Time Frame

To start a new UrbanPlan program, it is advisable to create an UrbanPlan Committee that meets for 6-12 months to fundraise and recruit both a teacher and potential volunteers. It is best to recruit teachers in the spring for classes to be offered the next fall or spring. On an ongoing basis, UrbanPlan runs in a classroom over approximately a three week period and volunteers will be needed during that time frame.

For more information on UrbanPlan, please visit the UrbanPlan webpage or contact Sophie Lambert, UrbanPlan National Director, at sophie.lambert@uli.org.