About Us

The Center for Cities + Schools at UC Berkeley conducts high-quality, non-partisan policy research, engages youth in urban planning, and cultivates collaboration between city and school leaders to strengthen all communities.  CC+S works to advance policies and practices that create opportunity-rich places where young people can be successful in and out of school. 

CC+S was founded at UC Berkeley in 2004 to position high-quality education as essential to creating equitable, healthy and sustainable cities for all. CC+S is an interdisciplinary initiative between UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Education and the College of Environmental Design. We partner extensively with the Department of City and Regional Planning and are housed at the Institute of Urban and Regional Development (IURD)

The vision for CC+S was born out of more than twenty years of work related specifically to schools and public housing in the San Francisco Bay Area and across the country.


Why CC+S Exists

No matter where a child grows up, he or she should have the necessary ingredients for a bright future: good schools, safe streets, places to play, and a broader community to help them succeed at every stage of life.

Yet children in too many places are cut off from many of the resources needed to support their success in and out of school. The “opportunity gap” is the result, where young people don’t have a fair chance at achieving their potential in school, career, and citizenship.

Urban planning, however, is a powerful – and underutilized – tool to help close the opportunity gap and improve education. The housing, transportation, and community development decisions that are part of urban planning can be harnessed in innovative ways to support young people from preschool to a successful adulthood.

For example, cities and schools can work together to open school playgrounds in the evening, change public transportation schedules to match the school day, and build more affordable homes near good schools.

Urban planning can also help realize many of today’s education goals by providing opportunities for rigorous, project-based civic learning experiences. As students identify problems where they live and engage with civic leaders to fix these problems, they become more prepared for careers and college – as well as agents for social change in their communities.

Our Work

Our work strives to strengthen schools, communities, and entire cities for young people – and everyone.  We do this in three ways that together are fundamentally shifting how people think and how decisions are happening in our cities:

CC+S cultivates collaboration between cities and schools to find new ways to support the success of young people in and out of school.

  • Through CC+S's PLUS program, we provide tools and best practices to help cities and schools create a structure for strong, ongoing joint policymaking. 
  • CC+S builds the capacity of educational and civic leaders to collaborate by providing technical assistance and professional development opportunities. CC+S also offers additional capacity for research and analysis through UC Berkeley graduate student fellows.
  • CC+S serves as a translator between education and civic policymakers to break down disciplinary siloes and other barriers to collaboration. CC+S helps these leaders define common goals in a shared language for collective impact.

CC+S brings urban planning into the classroom and gets young people out in their communities as agents of change.

  • CC+S’s Y-PLAN (Youth – Plan, Learn, Act, Now!) is an award-winning educational strategy that engages youth in urban planning and empowers them to create change in their community.
  • CC+S helps teachers bring Y-PLAN’s flexible methodology and tools into everything from government to physics classes. Y-PLAN’s project-based, real-world approach builds career and college readiness. It is closely aligned with contemporary school reform initiatives such as the Common Core, building 21st century knowledge and skills.
  • Y-PLAN can also be used by cities to transform how people participate in local decision-making and foster a new, community-driven model for urban planning.

CC+S conducts groundbreaking research at the intersection of education and urban policy.

  • CC+S’s high-quality, non-partisan research seeks out practical, proven solutions for local, state, and federal policy makers to implement in order to create more opportunity-rich places for all young people.
  • Our publications, tools, and reports help decision makers better understand policy choices and lift up policy and practice innovations for local, state, and federal policymakers to spread. As these innovations spread, entrenched systems begin to change.
  • CC+S’s research also highlights a critical emerging area of thought: how bringing rigorous, relevant learning into classrooms can improve academic outcomes and strengthen cities at the same time.