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Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community’s Assets

This seminal 1993 book by John P Kretzmann and John L. McKnight includes a step-by-step description of asset-based community development, a strengths-based approach for identifying and building upon the human resources that are already present in any community.

The guide summarizes lessons learned by studying successful community-building initiatives in hundreds of neighborhoods across the U.S. It outlines what local communities can do to start their own journeys down the path of asset-based development.

The Asset-Based Community Development Institute is based at Northwestern University’s Institute for Policy Research.

Resource Link: www.abcdinstitute.org

Buddhist Peace Fellowship

BPF seeks to awaken peace where there is conflict, bring insight to institutionalized ignorance, promote communication and cooperation among sanghas, and in the spirit of wisdom, compassion, and harmony, offer practical help wherever possible. Members are involved in disarmament work, environmental and human rights, including campaigns that oppose oppression of Buddhists in Bangladesh, Burma, Vietnam, and Tibet.

Resource Link: www.bpf.org


PO Box 3470




Bridging the Racial Divide: A Report on Interracial Dialogue in America

This 1997 booklet by Paul Martin Du Bois and Jonathan Hutson of The Center for Living Democracy includes lessons, tips and success stories from 65 intergroup dialogues across the country, plus an annotated reading list of resources. Although the Center for Living Democracy has closed its doors, this 71-page book was one of the first books to provide best practices from race dialogues in the U.S. Published at the time of President Clinton’s Initiative on Race.

Resource Link: http://www.amazon.com/Bridging-Racial-Divide-Interracial-Dialogue/dp/0966162609

Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community

Putnam shows how we have become increasingly disconnected from family, friends, neighbors and our democratic structures – and how we may reconnect. Putnam warns that our stock of social capital – the very fabric of our connections with each other, has plummeted, impoverishing our lives and communities. But America has civicly reinvented itself before, and can do it again.

Robert D. Putnam

New York: Simon & Schuster (2000)

Resource Link: www.bowlingalone.com

Also check out Bowling Alone's companion site, BetterTogether.org, an initiative of the Saguaro Seminar on Civic Engagement at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

Better Together

Better Together is the final report of the Saguaro Seminar: Civic Engagement in America, an initiative of Professor Robert D. Putnam at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. The project focuses on expanding what we know about our levels of trust and community engagement and on developing strategies and efforts to increase this engagement. A signature effort has been a multi-year dialogue held on how we can increasingly build bonds of civic trust among Americans and their communities.

Resource Link: www.BetterTogether.org

Benton Foundation

The Foundation works to realize the social benefits made possible by the public interest use of communications. Provides links to online tools for community organizing and community building.

The mission of the Benton Foundation is to articulate a public interest vision for the digital age and to demonstrate the value of communications for solving social problems. Current priorities include: promoting a vision and policy alternatives for the digital age in which the benefit to the public is paramount; raising awareness among funders and nonprofits on their stake in critical policy issues; enabling communities and nonprofits to produce diverse and locally responsive media content.

The Benton Foundation does not accept unsolicited grant applications or offer general grants. We are a private foundation, an institutional hybrid, bridging the worlds of philanthropy, public policy and community action. We assume diverse, crosscutting roles as nonpartisan knowledge broker, convener, public interest advocate and policy analyst. The Foundation has an endowment of approximately $10 million, the annual income from which is devoted to our own operating projects. Because of Benton's pioneering work, a number of foundations and corporations have provided additional funding.

Resource Link: www.benton.org


1625 K Street, NW 11th Floor




Association for Conflict Resolution

ACR is a professional organization dedicated to enhancing the practice and public understanding of conflict resolution. ACR represents and serves over 7000 mediators, arbitrators, facilitators, educators, and others involved in the field of conflict resolution and collaborative decision-making. ACR was launched in 2001, when the Academy of Family Mediators (AFM), the Conflict Resolution Education Network (CREnet), and the Society for Professionals in Dispute Resolution (SPIDR) merged into one organization.

Resource Link: www.acrnet.org



1015 18th Street, NW, Suite 1150




Association for the Study and Development of Community

ASDC is a research and development organization for community capacity building and social problem solving. ASDC represents a network of leading community development practitioners and scientists in the United States and Europe, with offices in Gaithersburg, Maryland and Milan, Italy. ASDC provides capacity building services to government agencies, foundations and nonprofit organizations.

Resource Link: www.capablecommunity.com



444 N. Frederick Avenue, Suite 315




Asset-Based Community Development Institute

The ABCD Institute was formed to assist in providing training nationally regarding the Asset-Based Community Development approaches developed by John McKnight and John Kretzmann at Northwestern University and documented in the book Building Communities from the Inside Out. ABCD produces resources and tools for community builders to identify, nurture, and mobilize neighborhood assets.

From the ABCD website as of September 2013…

The Asset-Based Community Development Institute is located at the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University. ABCD has a staff of three individuals, including the founders, John McKnight and Jody Kretzmann.

We are currently involved in four broad types of community building work:

  • Building community capacity is at the heart of ABCD’s work. ABCD engages directly with community groups to support their asset-based community development efforts. The Institute and its affiliated faculty also participate in an array of local, regional, and international conferences and workshops as keynote speakers, workshop and training facilitators, technical support providers, and learning participants.
  • Using a community-based participatory research approach, ABCD partners with community residents and other local entities to conduct research that helps prepare them to achieve their own community building objectives. ABCD also works with community groups, non-profits, and an array of other institutions to evaluate asset-based community development projects.
  • Working directly with students, Northwestern faculty, and other organizations, ABCD contributes to the development of the next generation of engaged civic leaders and community builders.
  • Producing community building publications and other resources for practitioners and scholars in the community development field, ABCD contributes to a growing body of knowledge about the effectiveness of the asset-based approach to strengthening communities.

ABCD and its affiliated faculty have created a library of community building workbooks, published scholarly articles, books, and chapters oriented to an array of audiences, and developed training curricula and other materials associated with the asset-based community development approach. Additionally, ABCD has gathered community stories from many of its partners and feature them on this website as a resource from which other communities can learn. Finally, ABCD provides examples of asset-mapping tools so that community groups and organizations can borrow from the experiences of others doing asset-based community development work.

Please visit us in the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University, in Evanston, Illinois.

Resource Link: www.abcdinstitute.org


Ascentum is a Canada-based professional services firm that combines a unique technology expertise with specialized management consulting services. Dialogue Circles was Ascentum’s intermodal approach to consultation that aims to maximize the synergies between the traditional and online worlds of consultation and dialogue. Dialogue Circles provided clients with the flexibility to hold online or traditional consultation and dialogue. According to Ascentum, many of the most successful consultation and dialogue endeavors now involve a mix of online tools and traditional face-to-face approaches that complement one another.

Ascentum-logoAs of July 2014, Ascentum lists these offerings on its website:

  • Idea Forum: The online “Idea Forum” tool uses a ‘crowdsourcing’ approach that allows users to post their own ideas around the consultation issue(s). The Idea Forum is a generative approach, designed to bring new ideas into focus. In Ascentum’s Idea Forum crowdsourcing tool, participants are provided with key questions (or themes) that are designed to solicit ideas. In addition to posting ideas, participants can also comment on other ideas and rate an idea by voting it up (like) or down (dislike). Clients also have the option of allowing participants to share their ideas with their friends and colleagues on leading social media platforms (Facebook and Twitter).
  • Choicebooks and Workbooks: are to online engagement what the conversation guide is to in-person conversations: a critical enabler of informed participation. Choicebooks allow participants to place themselves in the shoes of decision-makers, and as the name implies, make tough choices. To this end, they provide balanced information on the issue(s) at hand, outlining benefits, drawbacks and tradeoffs associated with various approaches or options. Scenarios may also be used to illustrate the choices faced by decision-makers. Workbooks, by contrast, focus on providing relevant context information and facts to facilitate issue exploration, allowing participants to familiarize themselves with an issue by “working through it”.In both cases, participants are invited to review the background material provided and share their views by responding to a mix of close-ended and open-ended questions. These guides are often prerequisites for participating in other online engagement activities, since they provide a common baseline of information to all participants.
  • Surveys and polls: Clients can take advantage of customized surveys and polls, of varying length and complexity, delivered online.
  • Story and Idea Submission Tool: This tool allows participants to share their thoughts and experiences in a structured, confidential way by submitting personal stories and ideas. These qualitative submissions represent an invaluable source of experiential data that puts a human face on the issue(s).
  • Design, Hosting and Administration of Consultation Websites: Ascentum offers comprehensive web design, hosting and administration services in support of all its online projects. Typically, a base consultation website is developed, which either replicates the look and feel of an existing client website or has its own unique look and feel. A customized mix of web-based participation tools is then integrated into this base website to support the desired participant experience and outcomes. The consultation website also offers extensive management features (e.g., content management, data export capabilities), participant management features (e.g., participant account creation and management, online registration module, subscription forms) and security features (e.g., login process for secure electronic access, optional SSL 128 bit encryption).

Resource Link: www.ascentum.ca