Data

Face-to-Face, Online, or Both?
Face-to-Face
General Type of Method
Community development, organizing, and mobilization
Planning
Research or experimental method
Typical Purpose
Develop the civic capacities of individuals, communities, and/or civil society organizations
Deliver goods & services
Spectrum of Public Participation
Empower
Links
http://www.abcdinstitute.org.
http://www.bostonabcd.org/
http://www.abcd.org/
Open to All or Limited to Some?
Open to All With Special Effort to Recruit Some Groups
Number of Participants
Medium size groups
Types of Interaction Among Participants
Discussion, Dialogue, or Deliberation
Storytelling
Facilitation
Yes
Decision Methods
General Agreement/Consensus
Scope of Implementation
Organization
Neighbourhood
Level of Polarization This Method Can Handle
Moderate polarization
Level of Complexity This Method Can Handle
Moderate Complexity

METHOD

Asset-Based Community Development

First Submitted By Ffonsok

Most Recent Changes By Scott Fletcher, Participedia Team

Face-to-Face, Online, or Both?
Face-to-Face
General Type of Method
Community development, organizing, and mobilization
Planning
Research or experimental method
Typical Purpose
Develop the civic capacities of individuals, communities, and/or civil society organizations
Deliver goods & services
Spectrum of Public Participation
Empower
Links
http://www.abcdinstitute.org.
http://www.bostonabcd.org/
http://www.abcd.org/
Open to All or Limited to Some?
Open to All With Special Effort to Recruit Some Groups
Number of Participants
Medium size groups
Types of Interaction Among Participants
Discussion, Dialogue, or Deliberation
Storytelling
Facilitation
Yes
Decision Methods
General Agreement/Consensus
Scope of Implementation
Organization
Neighbourhood
Level of Polarization This Method Can Handle
Moderate polarization
Level of Complexity This Method Can Handle
Moderate Complexity

Asset-Based Community Development is a communication methodology for sustainable community-driven development that focuses on identifying and utilizing the individual strengths and existing assets of citizens in the community.

Problems and Purpose

Asset-Based Community Development is a communication methodology that utilizes the individual strengths and skills of citizens to build stronger communities and establish sustainable development.[1] Instead of focusing on solving a specific problem, the ABCD approach focuses on applying existing individual local assets to problems to create meaningful change.[2] The development is solely community-driven as opposed to being driven by external influences.[3] 

Created in the 1990s, communities around the world began using the Asset-Based Community Development method in synergy with other restructuring elements to restore their autonomy and civic capacity. The ABCD method was developed as a way to provide communities, organisations, and/or institutions with a relatively cheap, effective approach to self-development that avoids dependence.[4] Methodologies that originate at the civic level can empower members of a community to action.

Origins and Development

The ABCD methodology was created by John McKnight and Jody Kretzmann at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University.[5] In their co-authored book released in 1993, Building Communities from the Inside Out, they outline an alternative approach to the needs-based approach used by poor communities.[6] This process empowers communities to “assemble their strengths into new combinations, new structures of opportunity, new sources of income and control, and new possibilities for production."[7]

In the United States, several communities have mobilized to utilize the ABCD approach to improve economic and social development. In Savannah, Georgia, the community transitioned their responsibilities from being consumers of services to producers of community.[8][9] This gradual shift to mobilization demonstrates that individual resources are often unrealized in a community. The key to ABDC is in the ability of local relationships to drive community development.[10] The strength of these associations can be connected to each other in ways that multiply their effectiveness. 

Participant Recruitment and Selection

Playing a key role in the process of building successful relationships in disadvantaged communities, community researchers are typically first recruited. They “will share the experiences and backgrounds of the people” of their community and facilitate connections.[11] Primarily, the community researchers are recruited through a job advertisement in the local paper, or networking with community groups.[12] After receiving training, the community researchers are tasked with finding marginalized people to work with for the ABCD mapping process. Recommended community organizations “to approach include: neighbourhood houses, resource and community centres, adult education classes...support groups and life-skills groups”.[13]

How it Works: Process, Interaction, and Decision-Making

The ABCD self-mobilization process has guidelines for achieving a strong level of community-driven development.[14] These guidelines assist the participant in organizing a group as well as mapping the capacities of the community. Variations of this process exist for the use of different NGOs.[15] One such variation was implemented by Synergos, a non-profit organization working to alleviate poverty, that held a workshop in Bangkok on identifying and mobilizing local assets.[16] The typical process outlined by John Kretzmann and John McKnight is described below. Overall, “an extensive period of time is spent in identifying the assets of individuals, associations, and then institutions before they are mobilized to work together to build on the identified assets of all involved.[17] After the assets are identified, they are matched with individuals who are in need of them; thus, the key to neighbourhood regeneration is in using what is already available but underutilized in the community.

Step 1: Collecting Stories

Conducting informal discussions and interviews can provide a forum for citizens to express their experiences from past endeavors.[18] This discussion has a dual effect; not only does it reveal unrealized assets, but it also helps build confidence in a person's personal abilities. This confidence will evoke the motivation to contribute to the sustainable community development process.[19] Significant to this first step is that it “does not diminish but reinforces citizens as the centre of their community.”[20]

Step 2: Organizing a Core Group

As the process of collecting stories continues, certain participants will be distinguishable from the rest as leaders. These committed individuals may have shown leadership aptitude in the past, or they may currently be in a position of authority.[21] Organizing the leaders of the group and compelling them to further explore the assets of the community is of importance. These leaders will network and build relationships with other individuals in the community.[22]

Step 3: Mapping Completely the Capacities and Assets of Individuals, Associations, and Local Institutions

Mapping[23] is an extensive process conducted by citizens themselves; the mapping process helps participants learn more about the talents of other community members and will identity links between different assets.[24] Mapping is more complicated than merely collecting data; a large part of the mapping process is in developing new relationships amongst community members. During the mapping processes, the objectives are as follows:[25]

Identifying associations: These associations are the backbone of community action and are essential as assets. The associations should be listed by type and those most likely to work together for a common goal should be identified.

Identifying individual gifts, skills, and capacities: Every participant should feel as if their gift has been realized and is appreciated.[26] The capacities of each person are placed in categories such as “community-building skills”, “teaching skills”, and “artistic skills.”[27] Other organizations may choose to categorize by skills of the heart, head, and hand.

Identifying the assets of local institutions: Assets of institutions could be found in the services they provide, the equipment they have, or the communication links they may provide.[28]

Identifying physical assets and natural resources: Natural resources such as land, water, or other resources should be identified as either privately managed or community owned and managed.[29]

Mapping the local economy: How does the economy work?[30] Resources should be identified that can be realized for maximum community benefit.[31] Could imported products be produced locally?[32]

Step 4: Convening a Broad Representative Group to Build a Community Vision and Plan

In this step, the central organized theme is decided on and matched with different assets, identifying concrete activities to work on.[33] The decisions should be made by those identified as leaders in the earlier steps, in order to emphasize the community-driven aspect of the process. Here, the expectation is that new community relationships are established while existing ones are strengthened.[34] This could be accomplished through other participatory democratic methods. 

Step 5: Mobilizing Assets for Community Development

In this step, the processes are initiated as the community assets are mobilized. Further associations are encouraged to engage those with similar interests, leading to “information sharing and realization of what can further be achieved through new connections and association.”[35] Looking for common ground amongst participants and encouraging contribution is necessary.[36]

Step 6: Leveraging Activities, Investments and Resources from Outside the Community to Support Asset-Based, Locally Defined Development

Before external resources are tapped, all local resources must be utilized.[37] This would put the community in a position of strength for furthering the vision of sustainable community development.[38]

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

ABCD is becoming a more popular strategy for community based development, challenging the traditional needs-based approach to assisting neglected communities.[39] Instead, it allows communities to identify their own assets to respond to their own needs, a more sustainable approach to social and economic development that reduces dependency on external organizations. The Mercado Central was an ACBD initiative developed by Latino immigrants in Minneapolis as a retail business cooperative; the community worked together with many organizations and faith-based groups to build a traditional marketplace in their inner-city neighborhood.[40] The market has transformed the community through both its existence as well as the benefits of the process itself.

Current strategies draw from this methodology, including the sustainable livelihood approaches developed by the Department for International Development and the asset building framework employed by Ford.[41] Furthermore, the Greater Rochester Health Foundation launched the Neighborhood Health Status Improvement Program in 2008.[42] This program partners with the ABCD institute and focuses on working to improve the health status of the residents of the community.[43] Five individual projects focus on local issues, such as housing, economic concerns, the environment, and promoting social interaction. This organization is one of many using ABCD methodology to effectively mobilize local residents toward improving community health.

The methodology was also utilized successfully in Seattle’s historic Columbia City district. By 1995, the area was overrun with prostitutes and drug dealers.[44] Recognizing that something had to be done, residents and businesses formed the Columbia City Revitalization Committee.[45] Participants were asked to think of a project that could improve the area; each idea was written on a piece of paper and the papers were posted at the front of the room.[46] Each cluster of ideas was assigned to a meeting place. The participants then continued the discussion that most appealed to them, ultimately resulting in the launching of new community projects.[47] The community's vision and use of resources has resulted in businesses moving back into the area; today, no storefronts are still vacant.[48]

Analysis and Lessons Learned

The ABCD methodology both promotes and functions as a result of community deliberation. Civic engagement is incredibly important in society; the “ABCD stands to gain from the rich resource of tools and methods generated by participatory development practice for community-based research, analysis, planning, and for organizational capacity building.”[49] The method has been used effectively in many communities as they develop their infrastructure and programs to address salient issues using local assets.[50]

ABCD faces several challenges. The real danger exists that the methodology will be discredited as being used as a self-serving initiative for private agencies.[51] Avoiding dependency on the external agency facilitating the process is a major concern.[52] As communities become larger and a greater network of connections are made, central control can be reduced. 

Another challenge is that certain environments may not be conducive to the ABCD method. The method may be difficult to enact in hostile environments or places where social hierarchies marginalize certain people.[53] Furthermore, anticipating how the social change will affect the community can help protect the growth of associations. Sharon Lee Bryant, after examining an Australian case study of the ABCD method, suggests that “knowledge about strategy development and implementation” is limited at the local level, producing “fragmented solutions that fail to integrate appropriately the various perspectives of different sectors.”[54] However, importantly, Kretzmann and McKnight note that the methodology is not meant to take the place of other initiatives, but rather to supplement external aid; they write that the “assets within lower income communities...are absolutely necessary but usually not sufficient to meet the huge development challenges ahead.”[55]

See Also

Community Organizing 

Neighbourhood Management 

References

[1] [2] [3] “What is Asset Based Community Development.” ABCD Institute DePaul University, accessed February 4, 2019, https://resources.depaul.edu/abcd-institute/resources/Documents/WhatisAssetBasedCommunityDevelopment.pdf, 2.

[4] John P. Kretzmann and John L. McKnight, Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community's Assets (Evanston, IL: Institute for Policy Research, 1993). https://resources.depaul.edu/abcd-institute/publications/Documents/GreenBookIntro%202018.pdf, 6.

[5] “ABCD Institute.” ABCD Institute DePaul University, accessed February 4, 2019, https://resources.depaul.edu/abcd-institute/Pages/default.aspx

[6] John P. Kretzmann and John L. McKnight, Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community's Assets (Evanston, IL: Institute for Policy Research, 1993). https://resources.depaul.edu/abcd-institute/publications/Documents/GreenBookIntro%202018.pdf

[7] John P. Kretzmann and John L. McKnight, Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community's Assets (Evanston, IL: Institute for Policy Research, 1993). https://resources.depaul.edu/abcd-institute/publications/Documents/GreenBookIntro%202018.pdf, 4.

[8] “2-Day Workshops.” ABCD Training Group, accessed February 4, 2019, http://www.abcdtraininggroup.org/info/savannah/savannahtraining.htm

[9] John Kretzmann, Nicol Turner, and John McKnight, A Guide to Mapping and Mobilizing the Associations in Local Neighborhoods (Chicago: ACTA Publishing, 1999), quoted in Alison Mathie and Gord Cunningham, “From Clients to Citizens: Asset-Based Community Development as a Strategy for Community-Driven Development,” Development in Practice 13 (2003): 475

[10] What is Asset Based Community Development.” ABCD Institute DePaul University, accessed February 4, 2019, https://resources.depaul.edu/abcd-institute/resources/Documents/WhatisAssetBasedCommunityDevelopment.pdf

[11] “ABCD Resource Kit Part I” ABCD Institute DePaul University, accessed February 5, 2019, https://resources.depaul.edu/abcd-institute/resources/Documents/ABCDResourceKitPart1.pdf, 39

[12] “ABCD Resource Kit Part I” ABCD Institute DePaul University, accessed February 5, 2019, https://resources.depaul.edu/abcd-institute/resources/Documents/ABCDResourceKitPart1.pdf, 41

[13] “ABCD Resource Kit Part I” ABCD Institute DePaul University, accessed February 5, 2019, https://resources.depaul.edu/abcd-institute/resources/Documents/ABCDResourceKitPart1.pdf, 58

[14] John Kretzman, John McKnight, Geralyn Sheehan (with Mike Green and Deborah Puntenney), A Guide to Capacity Inventories: Mobilizing the Community Skills of Local Residents (Evanston, Illinois: ACTA Publications, 1997).

[15] Alison Mathie and Gord Cunningham, “From Clients to Citizens: Asset-Based Community Development as a Strategy for Community-Driven Development,” Development in Practice 13 (2003): 483, https://www.jstor.org/stable/4029934 

[16] Eugenio M. Caccam Jr and David Winder, “2002 Southeast Asia Regional Conference on CSROS Opening Remarks,” Synergos, accessed February 4, 2019, https://www.synergos.org/news-and-insights/2002/2002-southeast-asia-regional-conference-csros-opening-remarks

[17] What is Asset Based Community Development.” ABCD Institute DePaul University, accessed February 4, 2019, https://resources.depaul.edu/abcd-institute/resources/Documents/WhatisAssetBasedCommunityDevelopment.pdf

[18] [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30] [31] [32] [33] [34] [35] [36] [37] [38] “Asset-Based Community Development,” Nurture Development, accessed February 4, 2019, https://www.nurturedevelopment.org/asset-based-community-development/

[39] Sharon Lee Bryant, “Community Foundations The Asset-based Development of an Australian Community Organisation as a Foundational Source for Sustainable Community Development,” RMIT University (2006): 3

[40] “Mercado Central,” ABCD Institute DePaul University, accessed February 4, 2019, https://resources.depaul.edu/abcd-institute/news-events/Pages/mercado.aspx

[41] Tara O’Leary, “Asset-Based Approaches to Rural Community Development: Literature Review and Resources,” International Association for Community Development for Carnegie UK Trust, accessed February 4, 2019, https://goo.gl/nDKZLU, 2.

[42] [43] “Greater Rochester Health Institute,” ABCD Institute DePaul University, accessed February 4, 2019, https://resources.depaul.edu/abcd-institute/news-events/Pages/rochester-health.aspx

[44] [45] [46] [47] [48] “Seattle’s Columbia City,” ABCD Institute DePaul University, accessed February 4, 2019, https://resources.depaul.edu/abcd-institute/news-events/Pages/seattles-columbia-city.aspx

[49] Alison Mathie and Gord Cunningham, “From Clients to Citizens: Asset-Based Community Development as a Strategy for Community-Driven Development,” Development in Practice 13 (2003): 483.

[50] “Capacity Building.” ABCD Institute DePaul University, accessed February 5, 2019, https://resources.depaul.edu/abcd-institute/about/Pages/capacity.aspx

[51] Alison Mathie and Gord Cunningham, “From Clients to Citizens: Asset-Based Community Development as a Strategy for Community-Driven Development,” Development in Practice 13 (2003): 484.

[52] Alison Mathie and Gord Cunningham, “From Clients to Citizens: Asset-Based Community Development as a Strategy for Community-Driven Development,” Development in Practice 13 (2003): 483.

[53] Alison Mathie and Gord Cunningham, “From Clients to Citizens: Asset-Based Community Development as a Strategy for Community-Driven Development,” Development in Practice 13 (2003): 479.

[54] Sharon Lee Bryant, “Community Foundations The Asset-based Development of an Australian Community Organisation as a Foundational Source for Sustainable Community Development,” RMIT University (2006): 5

[55] John P. Kretzmann and John L. McKnight, Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community's Assets (Evanston, IL: Institute for Policy Research, 1993). https://resources.depaul.edu/abcd-institute/publications/Documents/GreenBookIntro%202018.pdf, 5.

External Links

http://www.bostonabcd.org/

http://www.abcd.org/

ABCD Institute Official Website: http://www.abcdinstitute.org.

ABCD In Action - Savannah, GA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rbRAQLbeRM

ABCD Official Website Toolkit: https://resources.depaul.edu/abcd-institute/resources/Pages/tool-kit.aspx

ABCD Training Videos and Podcasts: https://resources.depaul.edu/abcd-institute/resources/Pages/training-videos-podcasts.aspx

Collaborative for Neighbourhood Transformation: https://www.neighborhoodtransformation.net/wp/

Inspiring Communities - An Organization for Community-Led Development in New Zealand: http://inspiringcommunities.org.nz/about-us/mission/ 

Notes

Lead Image: Asset-Based Community Development program Texas https://goo.gl/NCac7o

Image: ABCD Institute DePaul University, Chicago https://goo.gl/FEFaUP