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Defining Community Capacity: A Framework and Implications from a Comprehensive Community Initiative

Comprehensive community building efforts in Hartford and Milwaukee illustrate the ambiguities of defining the elements of community capacity and how they operate on the ground to create positive community change.

The notion of 'community capacity building' is both explicit and pervasive in the rhetoric that describes, the missions that guide and, to a greater or lesser extent, the activities that embody a broad range of contemporary community development efforts. However, there is limited clarity about the meaning of 'capacity' and 'capacity building' at the neighborhood level. What, in concrete operational terms, does community capacity mean?

This paper suggests a definitional framework for understanding and promoting community capacity, explores the attempt to operationalize a capacity-building agenda through the examination of two contrasting case studies within a multi-site comprehensive community initiative (CCI), and suggest some possible next steps toward building community capacity through social change efforts like CCIs.

Robert Chaskin

Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago (1999)

Resource Link: www.chapinhall.org/article_abstract.aspx?ar=1291&L2=63&L3=108

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