EcoDistricts Acquisition FAQ

Why was EcoDistricts acquired?

EcoDistricts was acquired by Partnership for Southern Equity (PSE) in late 2021 to combine organizational assets to build a powerful new agenda to promote equitable and regenerative land use, real estate, infrastructure, and community development.

The acquisition provides a generational opportunity to strengthen our core programming with a focus on centering growth and development through racial equity and expand impact by incorporating PSE’s community-oriented and approach to building collective power.

In an era of competition and specialization among nonprofits, we saw an opportunity to leverage our strengths to better serve the community development field.

Who is the Partnership for Southern Equity (PSE)?

Founded in 2008, PSE is a nonprofit organization that advances policies and institutional actions that promote racial equity and shared prosperity for all in the growth of metropolitan Atlanta and the American South.

Through forums, research, and organizing efforts, PSE brings together the regional community to lift up and encourage just, sustainable, and civic practices for balanced growth and opportunity.

Why a new name for EcoDistricts?

We decided to refresh the EcoDistricts brand to better reflect our vision and values as we move into our second decade of supporting new models of place-based community development. Just Communities is a bold re-imagination of EcoDistricts – focusing on places where the inseparable forces of racial and environmental injustice persist.

Just Communities is our response to land use policies and extractive development practices that harm our health and stifle upward mobility, resulting in increasingly segregated, unaffordable, and inequitable communities, unprepared for the mounting threats of climate change.

How is Just Communities different from EcoDistricts?

Just Communities is an evolution of EcoDistricts. We are integrating and expanding the programs and tools of EcoDistricts and PSE to better support resident leaders, community-based organizations, developers, and municipalities advancing racially equitable and environmentally regenerative development practices and policies.

As part of the PSE family, Just Communities benefits from being integrated into a dynamic and growing Black-led organization that has expertise and lived experience in key areas that EcoDistricts has long advocated – health impact, inclusive economic development, just energy, green infrastructure, transportation and land use policy, and data equity.

What happened to the EcoDistricts Protocol?

The EcoDistricts Protocol has undergone a significant renewal and was released publicly as the Just Communities Protocol 1.0 on Jan 10, 2024.  Like its predecessor, the Just Communities Protocol is a comprehensive and practical implementation tool to unlock the power of resident leaders, community-based organizations, developers, and municipalities in advancing racially equitable and environmentally regenerative development of our built environment.

What is the status of the Accredited Professional program?

The EcoDistricts AP program has been refreshed under the Just Communities brand to include self-directed learning content, peer learning, and personal growth and leadership development. The first Just Communities AP Foundations course was held in February 2024 and will expand to include in person and asynchronous training.

The goal of the AP program is to diversify and expand the number of people in positions to influence and drive planning and investments in their communities.

What is the status of the EcoDistricts Certified program?

The EcoDistricts certification program is being refreshed under the Just Communities brand to be re-launched in the summer of 2024. For communities seeking to rigorously apply Just Communities in their neighborhood, we will offer an updated rigorous certification program that provides guidance and verification services to support implementation of each phase of the framework.

We created Just Communities Certification to catalyze new forms of land use, infrastructure, real estate, and community development that lifts communities up and repairs our social and environmental fabric. Communities seeking to become certified are making an important commitment to reimagine what future growth looks like and becoming part of a growing movement of leaders committed to equitable and regenerative development.

Just Communities believes that ecological collapse and extraction must give way to healing, regeneration and collaborative models.

Will my current AP credential remain valid?

Yes. All active EcoDistricts APs will continue to be honored through the transition to the new Just Communities AP program. Over the coming months, we will be in touch with every AP to provide new branding guidelines as the program name changes from EcoDistricts AP to Just Communities AP.

For inactive APs that need submitting continuing education hours, you will be required to take the updated Just Communities foundation course and exam.

Will our current EcoDistricts Certification remain valid?

Yes. All active EcoDistricts Certified communities will remain valid for 2 years from the date of certification. For communities that are currently past due, we will be in touch will guidance on renewing your certification.

For those who are interested in certifying a new neighborhood, district or campus, we will launch Just Communities certification in the spring of 2024. Please contact Rob Bennett at with any questions.