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Leadership Program

The Leadership STAR Community Program is a one-year all-inclusive package that provides extensive staff support and services to a cohort of communities as they work through the STAR Community Rating System® measuring local sustainability and pursuing certification.

The STAR Community Rating System® (STAR) is the nation’s first framework and certification program for evaluating the sustainability of U.S. communities. STAR provides a clear, data-driven approach to assessing social, economic and environmental conditions; the STAR certification process helps to identify gaps and prioritize investment. The certification process can also serve as a catalyst for local action, transforming the way that communities come together to address sustainability.


Spring 2015 Leadership Community representatives at the Program Orientation in Washington, DC.

Spring 2015 Leadership Community representatives at the Program Orientation in Washington, DC.


In the past two years, 66 cities and counties have participated in the Leadership Program. As of August 2015, 37 have achieved STAR certification with another 10 to certify this year. The Fall 2015 Program will be the 4th cohort of Leadership Communities.

Participating communities report that this process helped them gain a deep understanding of their community’s strengths and needs and has provided a springboard for civic engagement, cross-agency coordination, integrated budgeting and performance management, partnerships with philanthropy, and economic development.

Program Benefits

  • A 2-day in-person orientation workshop at the beginning of October with other Leadership communities;
  • A dedicated STAR Communities staff liaison throughout the year;
  • One year of membership in the STAR network with STAR Member Community benefits;
  • Ongoing educational programs and networking opportunities with other Leadership communities;
  • A copy of the Technical Guide to the STAR Community Rating System;
  • Access to STAR’s customized online Reporting Tool to store and track sustainability data;
  • Access to STAR’s on-call technical content experts and advisers;
  • Basic STAR PR media services to assist in local storytelling;
  • Verification of the community’s submission to receive an official STAR certification, and;
  • Recognition as a national sustainability leader.

Cost & Financial Asssistance

The cost of the one-year program is $7,500 and begins September 1, 2015. Competitive scholarships are available to communities that demonstrate need and strategic vision. It is expected that communities will apply for STAR certification by the end of the program on August 31, 2016. Communities with high enough scores receive a certified STAR Community Rating and are nationally recognized for their leadership during the program year.

For Fall 2015, STAR Communities is pleased to make available 2 types of aid: financial assistance and capacity support. Communities can apply for both types of assistance if desired.

  • In partnership with the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities (TFN), STAR Communities will make available a limited number of need-based program fee scholarships to communities demonstrating compelling resource constraints and need. These scholarships can be worth 50-75% of the program fee.
  • In partnership with The Summit Foundation and Global Green USA, STAR Communities will invite two communities to participate in the newly released Quick Start Program to accelerate the process of getting organized and achieve certification in a shorter timeline, to allow for more prioritization and alignment of efforts post-certification. Read more in this flyer.

Application Dates & Details

The next Leadership Program will run from March 2016-February 2017. Applications will be available late fall 2015.

For more information, download the Fall 2015 Leadership Info Packet.

For More Information

STAR Communities encourages local governments that are considering applying for the Leadership Program to schedule an informal conversation to discuss your goals and ask questions about the program. Please email Lacey Shaver, Program Manager, at lacey@STARcommunities.org with questions or to set up a call.