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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. 


Stay SafeInvesting in Social Capital Pays Off During a Crisis

This case study focuses on how the City of St. Albert’s efforts to cultivate social capital in the years leading up to the pandemic yielded dividends when the crisis hit.

John McKnight ABCDThe 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. 


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. 

Public Spaces

ABCD 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.

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Learnings of John McKnight
ABCD, Jazz and Communities

During the first year of the Covid pandemic, many neighborhood organizations and block clubs stopped their traditional face-to-face meetings. Nonetheless, in many locations, these groups spontaneously initiated innovative community activities.

Learnings of John McKnight
Peacemaking Powers and the Culture They Create

In a neighborhood, people are empowered by the work they do together. Often, they use this power to confront institutions and advocate for the neighborhood’s self-interest. In this kind of action, power is understood as our ability to get someone else to do something for us. This is the consumer power of confrontation.


Transformations of the Functions of Community and Police

In the three videos featured, Mike Butler, the recently retired Chief of Police of Longmont, Colorado, is interviewed by John McKnight of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute and Dr. Albert Dzur, professor of Political Science at Bowling Green University. 


ABCD HandsAsset-Based Community Recovery Framework

As cities and communities start to look at recovery, how do we learn from what has happened and move forward in a better way? Many recovery models have been created to help the economy thrive or to reduce risk management and disaster.

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?”

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. 

The_Four_Legged_Stool_ImageThe 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.

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. 


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Nine Ways to Create an Asset-Based Recovery Plan

These nine ideas are the result of a design-thinking workshop to help citizens, organizations and governments to think about how they look at the assets that came from the pandemic and build them back better.

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

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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. 

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. 

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.

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. 


ABCD & Recovery webinarAsset-Based Recovery: How to Put Community at the Center

This webinar featured Jonathan Massimi and Debra Jakubec in a discussion about an Asset-Based Recovery Framework that puts community at the center in recovery.

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

What do you do once you have mapped out the assets in your community? How can you engage residents to share their gifts and talents? Life.School.House. is a model of community development that uses folk school classes to draw people together in community and reduce the impact of social isolation.

Creating Abundant Community in Neighbourhoods Webinar-534243-editedCreating Abundant Community in Neighbourhoods

In this webinar, Peter Block explored the concept of a neighbourly economy including discussion on how to build ‘Abundant Community’ in neighbourhoods, as a viable alternative to the consumer-driven economic system that currently exists.

Asset Mapping-757615-editedAsset Mapping: Finding the Strength in your Neighbourhood

John McKnight, founder and co-director of Asset-Based Community Development Institute (ABCD) dives into the basic principles and practices of an asset-based approach, and identifies key factors for implementing an ABCD strategy to create more vibrant communities.

Social Patches The Art of Reweaving our Relational FabricSocial Patches: The Art of Reweaving our Relational Fabric

Milton Friesen focuses in this webinar on new ways to mend the social fabrics of neighborhoods to build a social MRI. Social patches involves weaving and gaps - where social connectedness is far from even based on place and individuals. 

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Rekindling Democracy - An Interview with Cormac Russell

This webinar featured Cormac Russell in a discussion about his new book. He also explores the shift from citizen-centred community development approaches to top-down institution-centred ones, and how we can challenge the status quo in order to reboot democracy.

Tamarack LogoFrom Needs to Assets: A New Approach to Community Building

John McKnight, founder and co-director of Asset-Based Community Development Institute (ABCD) dives into the basic principles and practices of an asset-based approach, and identifies key factors for implementing an ABCD strategy to create more vibrant communities.

Tamarack LogoAsset-Based Community Development: Lessons from Across the World

In this webinar with Cormac Russell, a leading trainer of ABCD, he will help you to move from principles to practice using lessons learned from ABCD sites across the world.

Tamarack LogoABCD Series 3: Taking Asset-based Community Development to Every Neighbourhood

This webinar is the third in a four-part series exploring how community development practitioners can apply ABCD in real life situations - from theory to practice - and now focusing on lessons emerging from the local level.


Tamarack LogoDiscussing ABCD with John McKnight

This podcast features John McKnight, co-founder of the Asset Based Community Development Institute and Jaime Munday, Executive Director of the fiveandtwonetwork.org. They alongside Tamarack's Heather Keam to discuss the origins 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