Friday, April 30, 2010

Asset Based Community Development

Asset based community development seeks to shift models of community development from treating communities in need as clients who need a service that is brought from the outside. How does it do this? It calls for “discovering a community’s capacities and assets” to build community initiatives that are sustainable and assure that communities help create the very solutions they solicit outsiders to provide.

Every social entrepreneur knows understanding the community and its issues are the foundation to creating an initiative. How, then, do we go about “getting to know” our communities, whether we are from the very communities we seek to help or not? According to the model, the assets of a community are individuals, associations and institutions; this includes businesses, schools, hospitals or clinics, churches, cultural groups, etc. and says that community builders should work with these organizations with a goal of making them “become full contributors to the development process”.

This model also introduces a tool called “capacity inventory” which is much like a survey that would be taken of a community’s assets (individuals, associations and institutions). The model and the tools were developed and tested in urban Chicago and spread to other metropolitan areas in the United States but can easily be modified for the needs of any community. Go to "Read More" to find where you can take a look at the capacity inventory tool.

Have any of you used tools or models similar to the capacity inventory and asset based community development? Can you describe your models and how you carried it out in the community? What challenges were faced as a result of using this model and how were you able to overcome it?


Asset Based Community Development Institute – located at Northwestern University. This website has a LOT of information and literature on the model, all of which is a worthy read and free. To access its resource page, click HERE.

Capacity Inventory – click HERE to view the capacity inventory (scroll down to "Mapping Tools")

“Building Communities from the Inside Out” – read the 1993 publication that introduced me to asset based community development.

Questions to think about while you read: Do you agree with asset based community development? Are there any initiatives that you know of that can benefit or won’t benefit from using a model? Do you believe there are more models aside from service based and asset based community development?

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