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Since 2008, Great Lakes Urban has been implementing asset-based community development (ABCD) methodologies in West Michigan. Over the years, we have developed a unique framework for applying ABCD at a neighborhood level. We call our framework CommunityWorks.

The CommunityWorks framework incorporates a four phase, step-by-step process. Field-tested for more than a decade, CommunityWorks has evolved into a proven method for bringing residents together to create a preferred future for their neighborhood and community. The average community will complete the four phases in two to five years, but the completion of the process is really about establishing structured relationships that work to  nurture a more vibrant community far into the future.


PHASE 1: Anchoring Change

We support residents, community leaders, and partners from business, nonprofit organizations, schools, and faith-based communities to form a City Team. This team learns the basics of asset-based community development and the benefits of this approach for their neighborhoods and cities. They set goals for their neighborhoods, secure resources, and support a certified Regional Coach.

Four key building blocks, when firmly established, ensure the effective and sustained implementation and replication of the four phases outlined above.

Regional Team

Residents, city leaders, and representatives from the business, civic, nonprofit, education, and other sectors who care about long-term, sustainable approaches to neighborhood strengthening

Neighborhood Team

Residents and partners that engage as many people as possible in identifying the boundaries of the neighborhood and setting an agenda for change. The team fundraises and recruits a Neighborhood Connector and ensures the ongoing implementation of ABCD

Regional Connector

Embedded in independent, regional organizations with a proven track record of developing relationships within their neighborhoods, Regional Coaches develop and support neighborhood leaders and their teams and train and coach Neighborhood Connectors

Neighborhood Connector

Believe that their neighbors already have the resources they need to start facilitating change. Their primary function is to listen, engage, connect, and empower neighbors to act on the issues they care about

Cities that implement the CommunityWorks framework will observe the following dimensions of community life strengthened. A shared vision and sense of community will take root; local ownership and local leadership will grow; the capacity of residents (resources, relationships, knowledge, and skills) will be mobilized for good; all of which will result in concrete improvements in neighborhood conditions and the quality of life for children, residents, and families.  

Download our CommunityWorks booklet for more detail. 

Download our Stories of Transformation booklet describing our impact.

Are you interested in learning more about, or in joining, a network of like-minded ABCD practitioners or trainer-coaches? Contact us!

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