September 26, 2017

The Measure Of Success

How we will know we made a difference

The common wisdom is that you get what you measure. So what do we measure that will draw us toward healthier communities with active citizen groups? How can we avoid the constant pressure to go back to looking at the half-empty glass?

Researchers around the country are looking for the strategic community assets and conditions that make families stronger, children healthier and smarter, and citizens more engaged. When we have completed our work we will know we are successful if:

THE COMMUNITY KNOWS AND USES ITS ASSETS.

When a community knows its assets and builds on them, it will become stronger and healthier.

  1. Does the project map and promote the use of individual and community gifts?
  2. Does the effort build on the gifts and assets of community members?

THE COMMUNITY HAS OWNERSHIP (equity).

As the community develops the skills and abilities to manage its money and resources, it has to develop equity. Neighborhoods with the highest levels of ownership have the highest levels of stability and the lowest levels of crime.

  1. Do individuals own more property in the community at the end of the project?
  2. Do community associations own equity in cooperative real estate ventures?
  3. Does money spent to solve community problems find its way into paychecks for community members?

THE COMMUNITY HAS A VOICE (control).

  1. Do citizen groups have voting influence on funds spent in the community?
  2. Do citizens define what community change is important to them and how the change should come?
  3. Is there a plan in place to support creative citizen ideas?

THE COMMUNITY HAS AN INCREASED NUMBER OF INDIVIDUALS ACTIVELY INVOLVED IN COMMUNITY ACTION.

  1. Are more people voting?
  2. Has the number of community volunteers increased?

THE COMMUNITY HAS AN INCREASED NUMBER OF ACTIVE GROUPS OR ASSOCIATIONS.

  1. Are there more political action and civic groups?
  2. Are the various groups planning and working more together around a common vision?

*Read, “A Guide to Evaluating Asset-Based Community Development: Lessons, Challenges, and Opportunities” by Thomas Dewar, ACTA Publications.