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Assets Mapping


Assets mapping is a strategy for "asset-based community development" (Kretzman and McKnight, 1993). Historically, the approach has been to focus on a community’s needs, deficiencies and problems. By comparison, Assets Mapping focuses on a community’s capacities and assets. The CHIS seeks to combine the two approaches into a single strategy that links needs to community assets.

Capacity-focused Assets Mapping emphasizes the development of policies and activities based on the capacities, skills and assets of people and their neighborhoods.  Historical evidence indicates that community development takes place only when local community people are committed to investing themselves and their resources in the effort. Furthermore, in a time of budget constraint and a re-thinking of the appropriateness of federal initiatives, the prospect for outside assistance is waning.

Assets Mapping is based on the recognition of a unique combination of assets that exists in each community. The combination has three components: individuals, associations, and institutions. An inventory of the gifts, skills and capacities of the community residents is undertaken. Capacity mapmakers identify within neighborhoods a vast array of individual talents and productive skills, few of which are being mobilized for community-building purposes. Secondly, an inventory of citizens’ associations is compiled. These associations, less formal and much less dependent upon paid staff than are formal institutions, are the vehicles through which citizens have historically assembled to solve community problems, or to share common interests and activities. An inventory is done of the more formal institutions which are located in the community. Private businesses; public institutions such as schools, libraries, parks, police and fire stations; nonprofit institutions such as hospitals and social service agencies—these organizations make up the most visible and formal part of a community’s fabric. A diagram of a Community Assets Map may be viewed here (Kretzmann and McKnight, 1993:7).

The process of Assets Mapping can be defined by three interrelated characteristics:

  1. The community development strategy begins with what is present in the community, the capacities of its residents and workers, the associational and institutional base of the area.
  2. Because the development process is asset-based, it is "internally focused." The development strategy concentrates first of all upon the agenda building and problem-solving capacities of local residents, local associations and local institutions. The internal focus stresses the primacy of local definition, investment, creativity, hope and control.
  3. The process is "relationship driven." Asset-based community development constantly builds and rebuilds the relationships between and among local residents, local associations and local institutions.

One goal of the Community Health Information System is to provide communities and individuals with a geographically oriented database of community assets. Elsewhere in the CHIS we provide indicators and data for measuring the health status of community populations. The Assets Mapping component of the CHIS should provide not only a method for constructing networks to address community health needs but also a mechanism for understanding community well-being.



Reference:  JP Kretzman and JL McKnight, Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community’s Assets, ACTA Publications, Chicago, 1993.

Copyright © 1999 St. Lukes Episcopal Health Charities. All Rights Reserved.