Sojourner Consulting

Sojourner Consulting takes a culturally grounded, place-based and relationships-based approach. We provide community planning, needs assessments, and strategic services in Philadelphia and across the country.

Sojourner Consulting

We listen closely and develop a bespoke approach for each of our projects.While our projects range widely, our work often involves building unlikely coalitions, stakeholder-driven design, planning and land use strategy and policy analysis.


Strategy and Facilitation

We help you understand what’s not working or launch new initiatives that help fill a gap. We assess gaps and needs and develop custom training to help teams increase their knowledge so they can more effectively deliver and measure their impact. We listen, act as a sounding board, and provide perspective during that critical time between strategic planning and implementation.Project: CONVERGENCE minority homeownership initiative


Community Planning and Capacity Building

We design and implement strategies for and by local leaders and residents in place-based initiatives. We facilitate conversations to identify their needs and priorities, and we offer planning and implementation strategies. In the process, we build leaders. This work involves community engagement, but we don’t engage without building power and capacity.Projects: Cultural District Planning, Fair Housing Coalition, 76ers Community Impact Assessment


Needs and Program Assessments

We help you take the first step to figure out how to create more inclusive programs and initiatives and bring new populations into the fold. We’ll dig into the root causes and we won’t be satisfied with symptoms. From community needs assessments to conducting policy research, we help you understand underserved communities and provide practical recommendations on policy and planning that get at the heart of the issues.Projects: Montgomery County AAPI Needs Assessment, Latinx and LEP Access to Office of Homeless Services, Landscape Review for The Rail Park

Sojourner Consulting

Led by People and Places

Culture is the water we all swim in - taken for granted, impossible to describe. Our place-based, relationship-based approach helps bring culture into focus. Once you see it, you are better able to assess opportunities and plan for the future.Place-based. Every place has its own history and assets. We’ll learn what you’re proud of, and help you plan future strategies that leverage your current strengths. We have particular interest in urban places which are experiencing development and rapid change.Relationship-based. Who you know and how you work together is the bedrock of future change. Sometimes it takes an introduction - but sometimes it takes a referee. We can help you develop more participatory engagement and build new coalitions.Other characteristics which set us apart include:

  • We focus on historically marginalized communities, with a special talent in working with immigrants and English Language Learners (ELLs).

  • We are planners who lead with the "people sciences" of sociology, ethnography and design thinking, with the ability to weave in other technical expertise.

  • We are excellent writers. We tell stories, in the most concrete language possible, grounded in the experiences of communities.

Our Clients Are...

  • Grassroots and community-based groups seeding innovative change,

  • National organizations strengthening local ecosystems, conducting research, and building coalitions,

  • Governments planning for underserved populations,

  • Invested partners who are committed to communities.

Current and Previous Clients

City of Philadelphia's Office of Homelessness Services
Friends of the Rail Park
HealthSpark Foundation
Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
Mortgage Bankers Association
New Mainstream Media
Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation
Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation
PolicyLink
Spiral Q Puppet Theater
Urban Manufacturing Alliance
Village of Arts and Humanities

Sojourner Consulting

Founder & Principal Sarah Yeung

Founder and Principal Sarah Yeung has 13 years of experience as a community developer, planner and policy advocate. Throughout her diverse career, she has been grounded by the experiences of historically marginalized communities. At Sojourner, she brings particular expertise in immigrant and English Language Learner communities, real estate development, policy advocacy, and small business support.Sarah has also continued to provide expertise and thought leadership in planning and development impacts for Philadelphia Chinatown and other historic AAPI neighborhoods across the country. As the previous director of planning in Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation, she worked to preserve a low-income, immigrant and cultural community. During her tenure, she played a key role in the organization's growth from a grassroots non-profit to a citywide hub, expanding its planning and real estate development capacity and supporting new programs in small business assistance, housing counseling and social services.Other experiences include national policy advocacy at The Food Trust, a national food access organization where Sarah supported the development of local, state and national policy campaigns and coalitions, including healthy food financing initiatives and SNAP advocacy. As a Michael Rubinger Fellow for LISC, she studied immigrant food distribution networks across the country, tracing the history and the role of wholesalers, distributors and suppliers.Sarah is a member of the Public Participation Task Force of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission. She is also a co-founder of Book Harvest, a pop-up, Philadelphia-based bookstore which celebrates Asian and Pacific Islander writers and stories.

Team

James Crowder
Associate

Sojourner Consulting

Vanessa Xie
Project Manager

Jessie Rios Benitez
Intern

Sojourner Consulting

Qi Guo
Intern

Collaborators

Sojourner's collaborators bring in a range of skill sets and expertise, and include real estate developers, economists, researchers, planners and ethnographers. Past collaborators include:

Creative Development Partners
Laureen Hom
Solutions International
Susannah Laramee Kidd
Urban Partners

Contact

Landscape Review for The Rail Park

The Rail Park is a vision for a 3-mile park which stretches across the City of Philadelphia, starting with Phase I, a quarter-mile park built on top of a former railroad viaduct. The non-profit organization sought to conduct equitable development planning in the local communities throughout the span of the 3-mile vision in Philadelphia. Through stakeholder interviews and research, we developed a landscape review of the diverse neighborhoods, histories and development trends surrounding the future park.

The final report issued recommendations for how the organization can engage communities and reposition its programs and services to better address equitable development goals.

Latinx and LEP service access

For community development funders or organizations seeking to develop the capacity and practical imagination of staff and field leaders, placing a strategist in an arts and culture organization can be an important training tool.

  • Increased knowledge of relevant regulatory and political systems, which may help the organization to better identify leverage points for affecting change;

  • Increased understanding of how to work with, support and challenge actors in community development (i.e. elected officials, legal aid organizations, housing authorities, etc.);

  • Increased understanding of how to explore, conceptualize and evaluate community development opportunities for the organization;

Sojourner Consulting