Module 4 - Asset Based Community Engagement

Seven Types of Community Assets

Every community—no matter how rich or how poor—has assets that can be identified and mobilized in community work. Assets are untapped potential which can be put into action to improve conditions.

Kretzman and McKnight (1993) originally identified three kinds of assets essential in community work—individuals, associations, and institutions. Several years later, Flora, Flora, and Fey (2012) expanded the list from the original three to seven, including some associated with people and others associated with place.

Their asset framework includes:


  1. Human assets are the skills and abilities of each individual within a community.

  2. Social assets are the networks, organizations, and institutions, including norms of reciprocity and the mutual trust that exist among and within groups and communities.

  3. Political assets refer to the ability of a group to influence the distribution of resources, financial and otherwise.

  4. Financial assets refers to money or other investments that can be used for wealth accumulation rather than consumption.


  1. Cultural assets are the values and approaches to life that have both economic and non-economic benefits.

  2. Built assets refer to anything physically made by humans, include housing, factories, schools, roads, community centers, power systems, water and sewer systems, telecommunications infrastructure, recreation facilities, transportation systems, etc.

  3. Natural assets include the landscape, air, water, wind, soil, and biodiversity of plants and animals.


Communities that draw upon all seven kinds of assets in their endeavors are more likely to have sustained success in building healthy ecosystems, vital economies, and social well-being (Emery, Fey, & Flora, 2006). The same can be said for individuals, organizations, and systems.

What If We Think About This Another Way?

Derrick was encouraged by his conversation with his roommate and decided to talk with Mrs. Poole about the situation some more. Derrick asked, "What if we were to think about this another way? What if, instead of focusing on what we do not have (all the money in the world), we think about what we do have going for us?"

Derrick and Mrs. Poole started to brainstorm a list of who they might turn to for help with the nature trail. Their list looked something like this:

People (human assets)
Interested kids, science teachers, principal, Derrick, Mrs. Poole

Organizations (social assets)
After school club, parent-teacher organization at the school, Kiwanis and Lions clubs in town that sometimes helped with community projects

Influence (political assets)
2 of the kids in the after school club had parents in the parent-teachers organization; 1 of the kids had an older brother who was an Eagle scout who needed a service project



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