Highlighting Sacramento

AARP California Planning Academy

Posted on 03/05/24

Every day local and state leaders make critical decisions that shape the communities we live in. These decisions impact our neighborhoods for years to come, and it is vital that all voices are represented. That is why AARP California launched the AARP California Planning Academy for civic minded individuals looking to get involved and serve as a voice for people ages 50-plus in their community. This free, educational program equips participants with the knowledge, skills, and connections to be an impactful leader in their community’s planning efforts.

Participants of the AARP California Planning Academy:

  • Learn local planning processes, principles, and practices, and how planning shapes our communities’ today and in the future.
  • Learn about issues affecting older adults, and how local planning efforts can be leveraged to enact meaningful and positive change.
  • Learn the key components of an age-friendly community.
  • Become prepared to serve on a local board or commission as a voice for people ages 50-plus.

By participating in Planning Academy, participants commit to:

  • Completing 8 virtual course sessions.
  • Identify open opportunities within their local communities where they are interested in serving on a board, committee, and/or commission.
  • Engage in and inform public planning processes on issues such as housing, transportation, civic engagement and so forth.

No prior planning experience is required to participate in the Planning Academy, although professional planners are welcome. The Planning Academy is free, but space is limited.

Planning Academy FAQ: 
How many sessions are there?

  • There are 8 virtual sessions, including a closing session and celebration.

How much planning experience do I need?

  • None!  We are looking for people who are curious and interested about planning and civic engagement and who want to make an impact in their communities. 

What if I don’t know of a board/commission I want to serve on?

  • We strongly encourage you to get to know the local planning bodies in your community, but it is not a requirement that you immediately serve on a board. 

What if I miss a session?

  • By participating in this program, we hope you can commit to joining all 8 sessions. However, we do understand that emergencies and other conflicts may arise. 

Will the session be recorded?

  • We will record all the sessions; however, it is strongly encouraged that you participate live in order to get the best experience from this program.  

What is the application process?

  • Please email Rachel Zaiden at rzaiden@aarp.org if you would like to be notified when the next application period opens. There is an application and informal interview process to join the AARP California Planning Academy.

What is the selection process?

  • We are looking for a variety of things in applicants, including but not limited to; commitment, regional diversity, interest/identified opportunity in civic space (boards/commissions, etc.) 

How many people are selected?

  • Each Planning Academy Class is 25-30 students.

How much does it cost to participate?

  • The Planning Academy is free. 

What are the participation requirements?

  • All selected participants will be asked to attend and fully participate in the 8 weekly sessions, as well as complete any pre-readings and prep work in advance of sessions.   

What happens after the program ends?

  • We want the cohort to stay involved and be willing to participate in ongoing learning sessions, as they are scheduled.  Participants will be asked to register as an AARP volunteer and participate in networking opportunities with the cohort. 

Is this only open to AARP members?

  • No. The Planning Academy is open to the general public.  

Who will lead the weekly sessions?

  • AARP CA is the lead organizer of this Planning Academy and will facilitate and moderate the sessions each week. We will be partnering with several issue and subject matter experts to present on the various topics. This includes professional planners and urban designers, commissioners, non-profit leaders, and more. The final list of presenters will be made available to participants prior to the start of the academy.   

For additional questions, please contact Rachel Zaiden at rzaiden@aarp.org.

This story is provided by AARP California. Visit the AARP California page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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