Our History

Smart Growth America was founded with three staff members in 2000, and officially recognized as a 501(c)(3) organization in 2003. That year, Governor Parris Glendening joined the organization as the President of Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute to help states and local governments use a smart growth approach. Smart Growth America continued to expand programmatically in these early days with the development of technical assistance workshops and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in mid-2005 to run the Governors’ Institute on Community Design.

In 2008, the organization grew rapidly when it received a large multi-year grant to establish Transportation for America, a national campaign for transportation reform. In 2012, our portfolio of issues and allies grew significantly as we became the new home of the National Complete Streets Coalition and the National Brownfields Coalition. Since then, Smart Growth America has continued to see steady growth in staff size and operations.

Our goals and programs have evolved with the changing political and economic landscape since 2003, and the growth of our staff has allowed us to expand our work. Our LOCUS coalition brings together the nation’s leading smart growth real estate developers and investors. And our technical assistance work has evolved immensely to now include workshops on downtown revitalization and revitalization without displacement, Complete Streets design, smart growth in rural communities, and DOT innovation, among others. We are a leading advocate for federal policies and programs that support great neighborhood development. And our research helps to shape the national discourse around how development strategies can help improve lives for Americans everywhere.