Key Questions to Consider
- What issues do you and people in the community care about?
- What is the current situation?
- What do key indicators suggest about how well the community or organization is doing?
- Who is affected by these issues, how, and to what extent?
- What factors affect these problems or goals?
- Listen to and involve local people in identifying what matters to them.
- Assess how the community or organization is currently doing in relation to its goals.
- Increase public awareness about the issues that matter to communities, including the consequences for people who are most vulnerable.
Reflection Prompt: Take time to explore what motivates you to engage in civic life, including the projects or actions you are exploring as you use this toolkit. You can also list or consider what you think the most pressing issues might be, to take stock of the understanding you bring to the work.
Social Justice Prompt: As you develop an understanding of issues you might want to address, ask how broader inequities are linked into community concerns: how might a history of racism, xenophobia, classism, or other types of discrimination, however subtle, shape the experiences of community members?
Using Assessment and the Social Change Wheel to Engage and Take Action
Community Building: In Kansas, the Wyandotte County Unified Government collaborated with other community organization to develop a Community Health Improvement Plan for 2018-2023. The issues addressed in the plan were informed by an assessment process. This community health assessment involved a mixed methods approach, consisting of health status assessments, surveying of residents, and focus groups. Seven issue areas were highlighted as priority community concerns: 1) access to healthy food, 2) access to medical, dental, and mental health care, 3) access to safe and affordable housing, 4) childhood trauma/adverse childhood experiences, 5) education and jobs, 6) safe and affordable housing 7) violence prevention.
Socially Responsible Daily Behavior: Engaging in socially responsible daily behavior is not limited to day-to-day ethical behavior. Opportunities abound for purposeful engagement, whether we are promoting civic responsibility, building on our own cultural competence, or taking action to ensure equity in the environments we live, work, and play. We can assess our individual behaviors by taking self-assessments to learn of our own biases, microaggressions, and privileges.
Advocacy/Raising Awareness: The Annie E. Casey Foundation advocates for policy change to strengthen families and build stronger communities. To inform policy, they use data compiled through their Kids Count Data Center to produce a comprehensive report that assesses child well-being across the United States. They review characteristics such as demographics like race and ethnicity, economic well-being, education, health, and safety and risky behaviors.
Resources to Help You Assess
From KU’s Community Tool Box
- Chapter 3: Assessing Community Needs and Resources
- Chapter 4: Getting Issues on the Public Agenda
- Chapter 17: Analyzing Community Problems and Solutions
- Chapter 18: Deciding Where to Start
Troubleshooting Guide(s) for Solving Common Problems
- We need to understand the community or situation better
- We don’t understand the problem or goal
- We don’t know what to do to solve the problem
- CDC CHANGE (Community Health Assessment and Group Evaluations) Action Guide
- Community Commons
- (an interactive mapping, networking, and learning utility for the healthy, sustainable and livable communities’ movement)