How we evaluate proposals

 The Community Development Summit, hosted annually by Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group, is the premier regional conference that covers community development topics. Each year, about 550 people attend our conference; our attendees are nonprofit staff, business people, community residents, and government employees. We seek to sessions that appeal to broad audiences while addressing the issues that face our neighborhoods and communities.

Successful session proposals will meet the criteria in the proposal listed below. They will provide concrete stories of experiences presenters have had, and/or practical tools, strategies, and research to inform attendees’ work. Sessions will provide ideas and strategies that practitioners will be able to take away with them. Interested parties are invited to review the following information, and submit one or more session proposals at our website, due no later than January 31, 2018.


  • We believe advocacy and coalition-building can play a crucial role in addressing system-wide issues.

  • We value public awareness and promoting inclusion beyond participation.

  • We value listening to people from different races, genders, orientations, identities, ages, economic classes, sectors, and industries (especially within individual session presentations).

  • We believe our sector needs practitioners who are informed, capable, and excellent. We value flexibility and believe it is important to always be learning new things.

  • We value those who acknowledge and learn from failure as well as success.

  • We value presenters who are willing to discuss difficult professional topics with complexity, honesty, and vulnerability.

  • We value the work it takes to pass projects, organizations, and advocacy onto the next generation.



Proposals will be evaluated by the Summit Steering Committee and PCRG staff based on the following criteria.

  • Both the focus of the session and goals for attendees are clearly articulated.

  • Sessions have a full slate of presenters who are qualified to present by virtue of their experience, participation in the project, or another rationale; or are submitted by a qualified individual ready to work with others. Session proposals are not incomplete.

  • The session idea and structure are thoughtfully developed.

  • Panels reflect geographic, demographic, economic, and social diversity.

  • The topic is important, timely, and relevant to the audience of the Summit.

  • The proposal is not an advertisement for a program or organization; they do not present a program that is not capable of being replicated by virtue of its unique status.


We ask that presenters create sessions that either answer one of the questions below, address one of our topic areas, or both.       

Questions to consider:

  • How can you start off well?  How can you build on your success?

  • What worked, and what didn’t work?

  • How do you recognize and make changes when things aren’t working?

Topic areas:

Sessions can present lessons learned from programs put on by nonprofits, committees, activist groups, block watches, businesses, governments and authorities, foundations, and any combination of these.

Sessions can also address how local, regional, state, and national legislation relates to community and economic development, including but not limited to programs like the Community Reinvestment Act, the Fair Housing Act, Neighborhood Assistance Program, Community Development Block Grants, Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and Housing Trust Funds; and governmental policies/laws such as transit revitalization investment districts, complete streets, inclusionary zoning/housing.

Sessions can address topics including, but not limited to:

  • Improving access to private and public capital for low/moderate-income communities and residents; small business credit/lending, especially in LMI communities; anti-displacement and gentrification mitigation strategies;

  • Affordable housing; property development (by for-profit and nonprofit entities, and partnerships between the two); re-use of land; blight, vacancy, abandonment and remediation strategies; zoning and code enforcement;

  • Economic development strategies; economic growth; access to private capital;

  • Access to government funding and philanthropy; nonprofit management; strategic partnerships;

  • Equity; community outreach and planning; community development in urban, suburban, rural, and small town environments;

  • Transportation and mobility; resilience; green infrastructure; technology and community development; public safety; research relevant to community development; and more.

Session proposals beyond topics listed above should be able to make a clear case for why their topic is interesting and important to a community development audience.