What is it?
Phillips and Pittman (2009) defined asset-based community development as: “The idea is to build capacity within a community–to build and strengthen a community’s assets. In contrast to focusing on problems and needs, this alternative approach…is focused on a community’s capacity rather than on its deficits.”
Why is it important?
Becca Berkey writes,”Asset-based community development allows the full perspective of what a community and its residents can do with their strengths combined. Rather than mapping needs like poisoning, dropouts, broken families, and crime we begin to map organizations and individuals like schools, parks, churches, and cultural groups. (Green & Haines, 2001). After inventorying assets, a community can more readily begin to form coalitions, collaborative relationships, and leverage their social capital to accomplish their goals.”
How does it work in relation to Service-Learning?
When partnerships in the Service-Learning Program are formed, they are done so with an intentional aim to build on the already-existing assets our surrounding communities have. In addition, we consider how faculty and their students could help collaboratively build upon the capacity that a community has to make a unique contribution. Each of our 60+ community partner organizations exemplify the ideals of asset-based community development, and act as centers of strength themselves. Our partnerships through Service-Learning not only give students a new paradigm through which to view our communities, but also a way to see themselves as contributing assets as well.
Berkey, Rebecca Elaine, Just Farming: An Environmental Justice Perspective on the Capacity of Grassroots Organizations to Support the Rights of Organic Farmers and Laborers (2014). Dissertations & Theses. Paper 141.
Green, G., & Haines, A. (2001). Asset building and community development. London, UK: SAGE.
Phillips, R., & Pittman, R.H. (2009). An introduction to community development. London, UK: Taylor & Francis.