About CDP


Community Development Project (CDP) is a student-run organization led by students from two Harvard Schools– the Graduate School of Design and the Harvard Kennedy School. CDP seeks to harness the academic and professional resources of Harvard University to provide research and design assistance to advance any current or future projects, by partnering with local governments and non-profit organizations.   

CDP was founded in 2006 to promote local development work in Baptist Town, Mississippi. Beginning in 2012, CDP transitioned its focus from the Mississippi Delta to support projects in small towns in New England that are facing policy, planning, and design challenges related to housing,  economic growth,  inclusion of  traditionally disadvantaged populations, and similarly complex  concerns.   

Some of CDPs values include:

  • Collaboration over engagement

  • Local expertise / local approach to economic development 

  • Partnerships between multiple forms of knowledge / skills

  • Asset-based approach

  • Responding to community needs 


Every year, CDP collaborates with students from various Harvard Schools, attracting a diverse pool of talent. Project teams are usually made up of 5-10 members composed to include a range of expertise but exact skills and background of students may vary over time depending on the project needs. Teams each work with a partner organization to cocreate a relevant project. Student knowledge, capacity, and research learned throughout the process will inform the outcome of the final product. CDP co-chairs work to initially solicit and shape project scopes with partners, organize and direct teams throughout the semester with the guidance of faculty advisors. 

Projects from Previous Years 

2015: Paving the Path: Helping Young Adults Transition From the Streets to Stability (download report here

2017: Driving Change: Reclaiming Housing in Chandler Park (download report here)

2018: Reimagining Water Street Corridor Master Plan (download report here)

2019: The Future of Beachmont Square (download report here

Currently Active Projects:   

2021:  Powerful Pathways – Mattapan Mapping Project
City of Boston – Sidewalk Extension Analysis
Boston Trustees – South End Park Design
Asian Community Development Corporation – ANCHOR Strategy Document