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ABCD is an approach to community building that focuses on people and their gifts, their social relationships and associations first - before the physical infrastructure, programs and services offered. Here are some tools and resources to help you to apply and share these ideas with your family, friends, neighbours, and colleagues. 


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Becoming An Asset-Based Community Development City

A recent case study highlights how the City of Edmonton collaborated with neighbours to develop an Asset-Based Community Development initiative.

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ABCD In-Action: Poverty Reduction in New Brunswick

Learn about New Brunswick and how the province has been able to utilize asset-based approaches to poverty reduction. A recent case study highlights how the province was intentional at each step about employing an asset-based approach rather than the more predominant deficit model to the poverty reduction initiative. 


Asset-Based Neighbourhood Organizing

This article provides an overview of this process and links to more resources. Abundant Community Initiative in Edmonton, Canada began in January 2013. Howard Lawrence started with the idea that local residents have gifts, skills, abilities and knowledge and that they are willing to contribute these assets to improving their neighbourhood.






The Four Essential Elements of an Asset-Based Community Development Process

In this paper by John McKnight and Cormac Russell, they discuss the four essential elements  of ABCD in detail in an effort to answer the following question: “what is distinctive about an Asset-Based Community Development process?”


Differentiating the Functions of Institutions and Associations: A Geometry Lesson

This publication clarifies the difference between an association and institution, and the different key roles each has in Asset-Based Community Development. 


The Four Components of Effective Collective Impact: Through ABCD & Results-Based Accountability

As more collective impact initiatives are launched around the world, many participants are realizing that effective collective impact will not simply occur through better coordination of services, whether this is done by one organization or even a multitude of organizations. 

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Eight Touchstones to Asset-Based Community Development

Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) is about building community. Historically, we have looked at communities based on what they don’t have (asset stripping) instead of looking at the gifts that a community does have (glass half full). Cormac Russell discusses the eight touchstones to consider when community building.

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Publications from the ABCD Institute

These ABCD publications are developed by the ABCD Institute, as well as individuals and groups within their network. Many are available for free download by clicking on the document title. 
(These papers are copyrighted. You have the authors' permission to download and reproduce them for distribution; however, please include the title page to assure proper attribution.)

More ABCD Books here.


The Four-Legged Stool

In this well written and thought provoking publication, John McKnight examines the analogy of the "three-legged stool" to describe how business, government and civil society each play a role in upholding democratic processes. He proposes that in order to revitalize our democratic institutions, we must recognize a "fourth leg" of this stool- associational life. Learn more

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A History of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute: Unintentionally Creating a Movement

This publication will give a brief introduction regarding the nature of Asset-Based Community Development and how it emerged. Of more relevance, John McKnight will reflect on how it has worked, the obstacles and what we have learned.

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A Guide to Identifying and Sharing a Neighbourhood's Educational Assets with Young People 

A recent guide written by Julie Filapek and John McKnight helps to identify neighbourhood educational assets with young people. This guide has tools and recommendations to help groups to learn about the skills, knowledge and experiences that the community has and how to connect them to young people.



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Tips For Working With Neighbourhoods

This toolkit by ABCD Faculty Member Dan Duncan, explores how we work differently with neighbourhoods and residents.

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How to Do a Skills Inventory in Your Neighbourhood

This workbook walks you through how to develop an inventory of the gifts and skills in your neighbourhood. It was developed cooperatively by the Woodlawn Organization, a Chicago neighbourhood organization and the ABCD Community Institute of Northwestern University. This tool was passed along to Tamarack by John McKnight.


Shifting Focus: Alternative Pathways for Communities and Economies

This four-part resource kit details the community partnering process used by the Latrobe City Council and Monash University in Australia who worked with people who have been marginalized and helped them build community-based projects. The kit includes documented examples of how positives can be found in negative situations, and can assist communities to establish a micro-economy within their local area using people as their major resource. Learn more. 


A Basic Guide to ABCD Community Organizing

This practical guide to ABCD Community organizing, includes how to recognize people's gifts, connect neighbours, build associations and how these associations can help to weave strong social fabrics in communities and neighbourhoods. Learn more


When You Know Someone's Gift

This list displays a variety of ways - some quick and some more involved - you can use knowledge of a person’s core gift to help them build internal resilience and healthy participation in their community. None of these activities is “better” or “more powerful” than any other item on the list. What looks useful to you? Learn more.


Neighbourhood Asset Survey

This list displays a variety of questions you can ask residents to find out what assets are present in the neighbourhood.

“Building on the skills of local residents, the power of local associations, and the supportive functions of local institutions, asset-based community development draws upon existing community strengths to build stronger, more sustainable communities for the future.”

ABCD Institute

“Care is an alchemist in our communities, unleashing a force deep within us. It enables us to build up our social immune system.”

—Vickie Cammack, Canadian Social Innovator and co-founder of PLAN