Does your community have a vision for the future? If so, what is the vision based on? Is it the brainchild of a group of community leaders? Did the community at large have a voice? Will the vision truly address community needs? Will this vision it make the most of existing community assets or require significant addition or changes?
Those questions are only a few of the issues that communities must consider before making planning decisions that result in meaningful, positive, productive change. It is in considering those questions that community-planning groups often realize they do not have the answers to all of the questions.
A community assessment is a process in which market research techniques and tools are used to gather information about a community’s strengths, weaknesses and needs. These assessments focus on local assets, resources, and activities as well as any gaps, roadblocks or emerging needs. The information is gathered from multiple sources—community leaders, business owners, professionals and average community residents through the use of interviews, focus groups, surveys and analysis of local demographic data. Because many types of people participate in the assessment, the information that is gathered is wide in scope, accurate, and useful.
Aside from providing highly usable information from which to initiate community planning, a community assessment also:
- Helps to reveal underutilized community assets or resources
- Provides community leaders with significant insight into the lives of their citizens and the issues that are important to them
- Empowers community residents by including them in the planning process
- Creates a partnership among a variety of culturally and ideologically diverse organizations and agencies thus promoting cooperation and understanding
If you would like to find out more about conducting a Community Assessment, please call us.