Maximizing the Assets of a Diverse Community Dallas L. Holmes, USU Extension Adapted from an article by Lisa A. Guion and Janet Harper Golden, Florida State University Cooperative Extension, 2005. Needs verses Assets Needs: A gap or difference between a current situation and the ideal or desired situation. In Extension, the needs assessment tool is used to identify what the gaps are, prioritize them, and make decisions about what Extension can do to help. Needs verses Assets Assets: The strength, skills, talents, and capabilities within a community that can be used to enhance that community’s quality of life. In Extension, the asset model should be used to recognize that even in the most disadvantaged community, there are individuals and organizations with talents and abilities. Needs verses Assets Needs Assets Focus on deficiencies Focus on strengths Result in fragmentation of Build relationships among responses to local deficiencies people, groups, and organizations. Make people consumers of Identify ways that people can services; builds dependence give of their talents. on services. Give residents little voice in Empower people to be an deciding how to address local integral part of the solution to concerns community problems and issues Types of Community Assets 1. Individual Assets 2. Community Organizations 3. Formal Institutions Individual Assets Everyone has talents, skills, and gifts relevant to community activities. Each time a person uses his/her talents, the community is stronger and the person is more empowered. Strong communities value and use the skills that members possess. Such an approach contributes to the development of the community. Individual Assets 1. Ask people for a list of their knowledge and abilities. • Surveys, direct questions. • Work with the person to identify which of those assets are most valuable or needed in the community. Individual Assets 2. Look at community skills. • Identify the types of community activities that an individual has participated in • Identify the types of community activities that the person would be willing to participate in. Individual Assets Look at the individual’s enterprising interests and experiences. Identify skills that could be used to launch a small business, or that could be used in trade or vocation. Community Organization Assets When used with community associations, groups, and organizations, the asset assessment is based on the idea that every community has people who work together to pursue common goals. These groups may be formal or informal, and usually function by carrying out three key roles: Deciding to address an issue of common interest. Developing a plan (formal or informal) to address the issue. Carrying out the plan to resolve the problem Formal Institution Assets The assets assessment process promotes the basic premise that every community has a variety of public, private, and not-for-profit formal institutions that carry out ongoing community functions so that the social needs of a community are met. Formal Institution Assets There are five steps involved in assessing the assets of formal institutions: Recognize that the local institutions represent important assets to the community. Do an inventory of the institutions existing in the community. Identify the type of activities in which these institutions are involved. Formal Institution Assets continued. Explore the types of links that can be built between these institutions, as well as between the institutions, local individuals, and informal organizations. Seek the assistance of local institutions as conduits to resources outside the target community. Formal Institution Assets Formal Institutions can help the community by: purchasing locally hiring locally training local residents developing human resources sharing meeting space initiating local investment strategies mobilizing external resources sharing other resources. Recognizing Community Assets in Cache Valley Clark Israelson, Dr. Allen Young, & Dr. Ron Boman taught three sessions of a Latino Milking School in 2004. Clark Israelson Dr. Allen Young Dr. Ron Boman Recognizing Community Assets in Cache Valley They recognized both an asset and a need in the Latino community in Cache valley: Asset: Latino men can work in agriculture without knowing much English and excel at their jobs. Need: Many of them require more training in order to get the jobs that they need, but training is often offered only in English. Recognizing Community Assets in Cache Valley “The local Herald Journal newspaper did a story on the second quarter classes and did a feature on one of the participants. Gustavo Pena, grew up on a farm in Mexico and milked cows in Oregon for more than two years before coming to Utah. Pena reported that he had never learned the proper way to milk cows and care for dairy calves until he came to school at the USU Caine Dairy.” Recognizing Community Assets in Cache Valley The organizers also tapped into an asset of the Latino community when they hired Giselle Fernandez in 2003 to translate the program. “As a native Puerto Rican, Giselle was already well acquainted with many member of the Latino community. She was able to immediately begin translating many of our handouts and fact sheets for upcoming finance and dairy classes that we offered to the Latino community in 2004.” Recognizing Community Assets in Cache Valley “In November, 2003, Giselle helped us to successfully form a Latino Advisory Council to assist us in identifying specific needs of the Latino community. The lessons we have learned from this group about the culture and the needs of the Cache County Latino community have been very instrumental in the success of this program. We were able to adapt our current programs that are very ‘Anglo-oriented’, and make them much more ‘Latino-friendly.’” Maximizing the Assets of a Diverse Community “By utilizing the identified assets of the community itself, as well as the individuals of that community and the community organizations, you will get the residents involved in building their community into a more cohesive group. The residents will feel that they have a stake in what is taking place. In other words, if you involve the community in programming, you empower the members by making them part of the solution.” --Lisa Guion References Beaulieu, B. (2002) Mapping the assets of your community: A key component for building local capacity. Mississippi State, MS: Southern Rural Development Center. Guion, L.A., Goddard, H.W., Broadwater, G., Chattaraj, S., & Sullivan-Lytle, S. (2003). Strengthening programs to reach diverse audiences. Gainesville, FL: Florida Cooperative Extension, University of Florida. Kretzmann, J.P., McKnight, J.L., and Puntenney, D. (1998). A guide to creating a neighborhood information exchange: Building communities by connecting local skills and knowledge. Chicago, IL: ACTA Publications. Kretzmann, J.P., & McKnight, J.L. (1993). Building communities from the inside out: A path toward finding and mobilizing a community’s assets. Chicago, IL: Northwestern University for Urban Affairs and Policy Research.
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