2.1 Asset-Based Community Development

The asset-based community development (ABCD) model of community development, developed by John Kretzmann and John McKnight, focuses on the strengths of a community, rather than its weaknesses, as is often typical in community development efforts. ABCD identifies five types of assets: individuals, associations (groups of individuals), institutions (formal and professional groups of people like government agencies), physical resources (like land or money), and — most importantly — connections (relationships between assets).

Cormac Russell on community strengths


TedX Exeter


Created for the Connecticut Assets Network, the Community Connection Asset Mapping Process System Handbook sets forth the following guiding principles for an asset-based community development effort:

  1. Begin with the end in mind.
  2. Build relationships.
  3. Build on existing resources.
  4. Commit to sustainability.
  5. Start small and place-based.
  6. Lead by stepping back.
  7. Support inclusiveness and participation.
  8. Support mutually beneficial problem solving and goal setting.
  9. Work to sustain a learning community environment.
  10. Connect people through stories.

For more about each principle, see pages 114-115 of the CCAMP System Handbook.


Ryan and Bourke compare community assets to the ingredients of a “stone soup.” In isolation, an individual or organization might not think their “gifts” amount to much. But in combination, an entire community working together can produce something greater than the sum of its parts.