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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. 


Public SpacesABCD in St. Andrew

A rural community in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, St. Andrews has been taking charge of its own development for more than 200 years.

John McKnight ABCD  The Learnings of John McKnight

This compilation of learnings written by John McKnight are ideas and thoughts that will help you understand the Asset-Based Community Development approach and through examples show how the different players (individuals, association, profit, non-profit and government) can support and foster an asset approach.

Diversity & InclusionIs ABCD a Diverse and Inclusive Approach?

Is ABCD an inclusive process? How do you make ABCD address diversity? These questions bring to light if ABCD  is an approach that addresses diversity and inclusion. 

Rural CommunitiesReimagining Rural Communities Using ABCD 

This case study outlines how small, rural and remote communities along the east shore of Kootenay Lake in BC brought residents together using an Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) approach. 

Edmonton-2Becoming 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.

Group picture-968548-editedABCD In-Action: Poverty Reduction in New Brunswick

This 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. 

edmonton-sunnyAsset-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. 


rawpixel-597440-unsplash-266670-editedThe 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?”

GeometryDifferentiating 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. 

ripplesThe 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. 

stones nature light rocksEight 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). 

books-2158737_1920-336421-editedPublications 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. 

people conversingThe 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.

people conversingA 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.

Youths in a classroomA Guide to Identifying and Sharing a Neighbourhood's 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.


Street Crossing

Asset-Based Community Building How to Get 

This short practical guide offers many fun and useful tips on how you and your neighbours can build community together, in a way that starts with a focus on what’s strong, not what’s wrong. Basic Income and Youth webinar thumbnail


ABCD at a GlanceABCD at a Glance

This guide is intended to help you understand the ABCD process and how to use it to mobilize residents around gifts and skills to build neighbourhoods that are strong and resilient. 

ABCD Conference Bus toursAsset-Based Community Building & COVID-19

In times of crisis, we are reminded of the importance of caring for our neighbours, exercising our mutual giftedness, and everyday people taking the initiative to creatively solve problems without waiting for permission or leadership from institutions, professionals or politicians

People on community walk-069639-editedA 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.

Website_Image_gift_abcd_resourceWhen 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. 

QuestionNeighbourhood Asset Survey

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

tea gift care caring hospitality warm cup love guestHow 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.

Neighbourhood gatheringTips For Working With Neighbourhoods

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

Two pathways in the forest-431510-editedShifting 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. 


Building Social Capital through Community Development-1Building Social Capital through Community Development

Watch this webinar to learn how to level-up your community development efforts with Dan as he explores Collective Impact through the lens of Asset Based Community Development and Results based Accountability.

Evaluating Your ABCD EffortsthumbnalEvaluating your ABCD Process

In this webinar, John McKnight and Howard Lawrence shared some insights about how we can evaluate community development work when traditional evaluation is focused so heavily on numbers and counting. 

Applying ABCD in an Urban Indigenous Context-2Applying ABCD in an Urban Indigenous Context

In this webinar, Lori Sokoluk shared stories on how she has aligned the Asset-Based Community Development approach with the Traditional Values to lead to a decolonized approach of community.

Collective Impact through the Lens of ABCD and RBACollective Impact through the Lens of ABCD and RBA

Watch this webinar to learn how to level-up your community development efforts with Dan as he explores Collective Impact through the lens of Asset Based Community Development and Results based Accountability.

John McKnight and Cormac Russell WebinarPrinciples and Practices of ABCD

In this webinar, Howard Lawrence joined John McKnight and Cormac Russell in a discussion about their newest publication, The Four Essential Elements of Asset-Based Community Development.

“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