Planning Student Organizations (PSOs) throughout the country are involved in exciting and creative activities that enliven student life, contribute to their communities, and provide enhanced educational experiences for the students. This awards program provides a means for student groups to share their ideas, learn from one another, and receive recognition (and rewards!) for creative, successful activities.

The APA Student Representatives Council (SRC) Executive Committee designed this awards program to:

  • promote students' volunteer involvement in their student organization, communities, and state chapters;
  • recognize the outstanding efforts of these student groups;
  • identify best practices in student organizations; and
  • strengthen the ties between student organizations and the American Planning Association

Awards in each category will include a monetary contribution by sponsoring APA divisions to school's PSO to fund its activities. The award will be presented during the annual APA National Planning Conference.

2017 Award Submission Information

Deadline: December 8, 2016

Submit award information as attachments in one email to with "Outstanding PSO Award-[NAME OF SCHOOL]" as the email subject.

Award Categories

1. Involvement with APA Chapter or Division

Fostering student involvement with an APA chapter or division

  • Use chapter/division leaders and members as speakers/participants in PSO programming (new student orientations, meeting and mentorship programs, brown bag lunches, etc.)
  • Involve student volunteers in chapter/division activities and programs
  • Advocate for student representation on chapter/division committees or board
  • Develop student contributions to chapter/division newsletters, conference sessions, etc.
  • Promote student participation in chapter/division meetings or events

2. Community Outreach

Encouraging student volunteerism in the community

  • Projects — community gardens, transforming vacant lots, working with K-12 students, etc.
  • City government
  • Neighborhood organizations and other non-governmental agencies

3. Best Practice

Planning and implementing interesting, creative, and successful PSO programs and activities

  • Fund-raising
  • Programming (speakers at monthly meetings, career panels, etc.)
  • Networking
  • Mentorship programs
  • School involvement — curriculum review, certification process, etc.

Note: only one category may be selected. The jury may consider moving the submission to another category if deemed appropriate. The primary contact will be notified before doing so.


Only APA-registered PSOs with a qualified (APA member) Student Representative are eligible for this awards program to submit projects, activities and events implemented during the previous and current academic years (August 1, 2015, to deadline).

Entry must be a PSO-sponsored project or program. Individual, class, or planning program projects are not eligible.


Within each category, the jury considers:

  • Support of planning: How the activity/project supports planning, the planning movement, or planning students.
  • Contribution: How the student group, community, chapter or division benefited from the activity/project.
  • Innovation: Innovative use of existing or newly created opportunities (e.g., collaborating with another group/organization; addressing a specific need or emerging planning issue (i.e., sustainability, Smart Growth, etc.), etc.


The jury will be chaired by the SRC Immediate Past Chair, to include:

  • Division Representatives
  • PSO Student Representatives (3 to 5)

Committee members will recuse themselves as judges from any category in which their school has submitted an entry.

Award / Recognition

  • Monetary Award to PSO (funding from sponsoring APA divisions)
  • Certificate presented during the National Planning Conference
  • Announcements via APA's Interact e-newsletter, website, social media, etc.

Submission Requirements

Please follow the check list below. It will assist you in preparing your entry.

Document 1: Entry Information

  • Title of Entry
  • Name of PSO
  • Name of school/program
  • Category in which the entry is being submitted (only one may be selected) - (a) involvement with state chapter or division, (b) community outreach, or (c) best practices
  • Contact information for current APA-PSO Student Representative (this is the primary contact for all correspondence concerning entry) including full name, APA ID, email address

Document 2: Project Description

  • Description of project, activity, event, etc. (100-200 words) *this will be used in announcement materials for winning PSOs
  • Description of how it fulfills the award criteria (100-200 words)
  • Description of the planning process, implementation, and level of success (200-300 words)

Document 3: Letter(s) of Support (minimum of one letter)

  • Letters may come from: APA Chapter President, APA Division Chair, Faculty Advisor, or agency/organization representative.
  • All letters should be on letterhead and submitted in PDF format.

Folder 1: Image Files

Include 5-6 separate image files that characterize this entry. Provide (1) a caption that provides context and shows the entry's positive results or intended results, and (2) photo credit details. All images must be digital, copyright-free images and conform to the digital image requirements appearing elsewhere on this webpage. Images can be pdf, .jpg, or .gif files.

Previous Winners

Learn more about previous winners


Monica Groh
Director of Emerging Professionals