Project Summary

Equitable community engagement is a critical piece of any transportation project, plan, or program. To better reach historically underserved and transportation-disadvantaged communities, the East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (ECWRPC) turned to Toole Design to develop a toolkit for staff and local partners. The Equitable Engagement Toolkit has three distinct sections: a high-level demographic and social assessment of the ECWRPC region, a Guidebook that explains key steps for developing an inclusive engagement strategy, and an Outreach Strategy Toolkit detailing various outreach strategies and activities.

We also led a four-hour workshop attended by over 25 people including ECWRPC staff, local jurisdictional staff, and community advocates. The first half of the workshop included time to reflect on current engagement efforts, discuss inequities specific to the region, and learn about the Toolkit. During the second half, participants worked in small groups to practice what working towards equitable engagement strategies could look like.

In 2023, the Toolkit won an APA Planning Excellence – Innovation Award from the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Planning Association.

Expertise Applied

Background and scene-setting

The Toolkit begins with a demographic and social assessment of the ECWRPC region to better understand who lives in the region and how different individuals and communities should be considered when designing engagement strategies. This section also offers local stories which may not show up in the data but are essential to the region’s history and context of any planning conversation.


The Guidebook details key steps for determining target audiences, scoping engagement plans, conducting engagement activities, evaluating outcomes, and sustaining community relationships. Fillable worksheets are included to help staff think through and document their engagement process and plan.

ECWRPC staff and local partners participated in a Toole Design-led workshop where they practiced developing an inclusive engagement strategy.


Outreach Strategy Toolkit

The Outreach Strategy Toolkit provides an overview of various community outreach strategies and activities that should be considered in engagement efforts. For each strategy there is information about materials needed, potential partners, cost, and other details that should be considered when selecting an engagement strategy.

Social media and focus groups are two examples of the recommended community outreach strategies and activities.


Related Projects and News