To succeed, a prevention program should be tailored to the strengths and needs of the community it serves. An assessment to identify those strengths and needs can take many forms, such as a compilation of demographic data from census records, results of surveys, and partners' responses to questions about the community they serve. Assessments can be expanded to include focus group discussions, town meetings, interviews with stakeholders, and telephone or mailed surveys to partnership members. An image or chart of community assets will show opportunities for building on strengths of individuals, agencies, and businesses within the community.
Use the following resources to learn more about assessing community strengths and needs, including State and local examples.
Assessing Community Needs and Resources
University of Kansas Community Tool Box
Focuses on community assessment for health promotion programs.
Annie E. Casey Foundation, Harvard's Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations, & Rockefeller Foundation
Provides community builders with problem-solving tools and strategies in the form of case studies, best practices, and web links related to community development issues. The website also features discussion forums to foster interactive exchanges of ideas and peer-to-peer learning.
Conducting a Community Assessment (PDF - 205 KB)
Compassion Capital Fund (2010)
Walks users through a six-step process for planning and conducting a community assessment. It defines what a community assessment is and why it is necessary. The guidebook includes additional tools and resources for interpreting data.
Planning and Program Development: Community Needs Assessment
U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office for Victims of Crime
Offers lessons learned and suggests strategies for developing programs, including how to conduct a needs assessment.