We show communities and institutions how to leverage existing assets to address local problems and issues.

What We Do

The CBI specializes in customized learning and development opportunities for communities-based groups and organizations, and local, state and federal government agencies. We work with you to develop a curriculum or design a project that can demonstrate that the community assets, the skills of local residents, the power of local associations, the resources of public, private and nonprofit institutions, and they physical and economic resources of local places are the key building blocks in sustainable urban and rural community revitalization efforts.

We are also able to partner with you to seek out and obtain grant funding to underwrite ongoing ABCD initiatives and community based participatory research projects.

Let us help you or your organization:

  • Develop grassroots community engagement & improvement projects
  • Uncover and mobilize community & organizational assets
  • Learn how to share power & lead by stepping back
  • Increase individual & organizational resiliency & well-being
  • Build capacity


We train future collaborators in communities to organize their neighbors from an asset-based approach, seeing everyone as having a unique gift to share.


ABCD organizers then learn how to build and facilitate workshops to mobilize their communities about the causes that matter to them.


Once mobilized, neighbors self-activate their own community projects utilizing the tools and resources they already have.


Success is based on whether the community has benefitted from the project and can now thrive without help from the outside.

What is Asset Based Community Development?

Often communities act only when a problem arises, like an increase in crime or when a business district declines. The professionals come in, diagnose the problem and propose a cure. Residents become frustrated when nothing seems to change.

Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) is a powerful and proven approach that helps nonprofit and governmental leaders and community residents unleash the latent potential of the often underutilized assets in our community. It’s an approach that promotes development driven by the community rather than by outside agencies. It emphasizes the community’s existing physical assets and residents’ interests rather than simply constructing buildings and fixing problems.

According to ABCD, no plan, solution or organization from outside the community can duplicate what is already there. Although some resources from outside the community are needed, the key to lasting solutions comes from within. The gifts and skills of residents and the assets of the physical community are always the starting place.

Successful strategies for community development in neighborhoods are asset-based, internally focused, and relationship-driven.

Launched in March, 2016, with the support of the Center for Social Change, The Community Building Institute (CBI) at the Center for Social Change brings together doers and funders, thinkers and planners, residents and organizations engaged in community building and the ABCD process.

Through workshops and trainings, ongoing projects, research and evaluation, the CBI will coordinate collaborative action among residents, local organizations and institutions that leads to collective impact through comprehensive Asset Based Community Development strategies.


Jeremie, Haiti Cleanup

Over 85% of the universities in Haiti were destroyed in the earthquake that rocked the fragile island nation in 2011. Students, left with no alternatives, flooded back into their rural villages looking for opportunity and engagement. Through an ABCD workshop and subsequent listening campaign and asset mapping process, students in Jeremie, Haiti were able to plan, coordinate and execute a village-wide clean up in just three days with no money. This resulted in over 30% of the village being cleaned, an agreement with the mayor to provide trash collection and the donation of pubels (garbage cans) from the local MINISTAH (UN) detachment.