On Community Assessments
Butler, Lorna M. and Robert E. Howell. (1980) Community Needs Assessment Techniques. Corvallis, OR: Western Regional Extension (http://ext.usu.edu/crd/wrdcpub/)
An introduction to community needs assessments providing information on the purpose for conducting an assessment, guidelines for determining appropriate techniques, and a brief description of 13 different needs assessment techniques, including the advantages of each method and a list of references to which the reader can go for further information.
Carter, Keith A. and Lionel J. Beaulieu. (1992) “Conducting A Community Needs Assessment: Primary Data Collection Techniques.” Florida Cooperative Extension Service (CD-27). (http://hammock.ifas.ufl.edu/txt/fairs/5598)
The article discusses five primary data collection techniques; key informant approach, public-forum approach, nominal group processapproach, delphi technique, and survey approach. For each technique, the purpose, approach, and method of implementation are outlined,as well as some of the advantages and disadvantages inherent to each technique.
Community Resources. The Knowing Your Community, Showing Your Community Method and Handbook
Provides a step-by-step method for community residents on how to collect and present information about their communities. The method involves a variety of different information gathering tools that include community mapping, elder interviews, neighborhood observation, photographs, and participatory charting. To order, contact: Community Resources, 5131 Wetheredsville Road, Baltimore, MD 21207,
(410) 448-0640, ($7.00).
Department of Community and Regional Planning Iowa. (1997) Housing Needs Assessment. (http://www.public.iastate.edu/~crp534/homepage.html)
Guide to conducting a housing needs assessment, tracing the process through six steps, from establishing the study region, to identifying demands and future needs, to identifying capacity and resources, to choosing and implementing a housing action plan.
Johnson et al. (eds) (1987) Needs Assessment. Theory and Methods. Ames: Iowa State University Press.
This book addresses the theoretical, historical, national and international dimensions of needs assessments. It discusses the political and social contexts of needs assessments, frequently used methods, and the issue of needs assessment in international development. This is not a hands-on guide.
Langmeyer, David B. (1993) “Sticky Figures: Using a Needs Assessment.” ARCH Factsheet No. 27. (http://chtop.com/archfs27.htm)
This article summarizes various information gathering methods including social indicators, key informant, community forums, surveys, and nominal group method. The article also provides advice on other important steps to conducting a needs assessment.
Rosenthal, Beth and David Rubel. (1991) How To Conduct A Needs Assessment Study in Your Community: A Training Manual for Community Board and Area Policy Members. Prepared for the NYC Community Development Agency.
A brief outline of the steps involved with conducting a needs assessment study. Includes analysis of overall objectives and outcomes, the needs assessment process, documenting existing conditions, deepening the analysis of the needs and resources of the community district, making compelling arguments for change, and producing an action strategy. Although designed for NYC, this guide is useful throughout New York State.
Soriano, Fernando I. (1995). Conducting Needs Assessments. A Multidisciplinary Approach. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Excellent concise and practical introduction to needs assessments. Includes chapters on planning assessments, assessment methods, reporting the findings, and social and cultural considerations. Each chapter starts with an example and ends with chapter-specific exercises. A step-by-step needs assessment guide and checklist are also included. Very recommendable.
Warheit, George J., Roger A. Bell, and John J. Schwab. (1977) Needs Assessment Approaches: Concepts and Methods. Rockville, MD:National Institute of Mental Health.
Witkin, Belle. R. and James W. Altschuld. (1995) Planning and Conducting Needs Assessments: A Practical Guide. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
This book is an advanced analysis of planning, managing and conducting complex needs assessments. It is a useful reference for technical questions and for practitioners with interests beyond introductory information. Discusses the stages of preassessment, assessment and postassessment as well as various methods, including records and social indicators, surveys, interviews, group processes, and causal analysis.
Kretzmann, John P. and John L. McKnight. (1993) Building Communities From the Inside Out: A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community’s Assets. Evanston, IL: Center for Urban Affairs and Policy Research, Northwestern University.
This resource guide has become the standard book on how to rebuild communities from an asset-based approach. As a “how to”-manual, it provides hands-on guidance on individual, associational, and institutional assets. These assets are further discussed in the context of community economy, community development, and policy. To order, contact: The Asset-Based Community Development Institute, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University, 2040 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208-4100, (847) 491-3518. Very recommendable.
Samuels, Bryan et al. (1995) Know Your Community: A Step-by-Step Guide to Community Needs and Resources Assessment. Chicago, IL: Family Resource Coalition.
This resource guide discusses how to assess needs from residents’ perspectives, identify assets and resources, set community priorities, establish a community planning team, define community boundaries, and develop a statistical profile. Includes sample surveys, data-collection worksheets, and progress charts, which can be customized using a companion disk. To order, call Family Resource Coalition, (312) 338-0900. Very recommendable.
CUNY Data Service. (1997) FYI. A Comprehensive Guide to Statistical Sources for the New York City Metropolitan Area. The Graduate School and University Center. City University of New York.
This is an excellent, rare reference guide to data sources in the New York City Metro Area that also includes various statewide sources. There is no equivalent guide for upstate New York, but upstate groups can get an idea of the scope of agencies they could also contact in their localities. Covers housing and real estate, business, education, health, population, welfare, labor, and other data sources. Gives a short description, and provides a list for each source with contact information, data format, geographic area covered, unit of measure, how collected, frequency, etc. To order, contact: CUNY Data Service, 33 West 42nd Street, New York, NY 10036 ($35.00).
The Urban Institute. (1996) Democratizing Information: First Year Report of the National Neighborhood Indicators Project. Washington, D.C.: The Urban Institute, Center for Public Finance and Housing.
An interesting report on the planning period of the National Neighborhood Indicators Project, an initiative designed to assist local institutions to build neighborhood level data systems that are accessible to community groups. The report discusses the ideology behind neighborhood indicators and summarizes the experiences and conclusions of the seven cities that were selected to participate in the project. It illustrates what kind of comprehensive community-level databases localities have developed, how they have done it, and how other localities can develop similar databases.
Civic Practices Network (CPN), Center for Human Resources, Heller School for Advanced Studies in Social Welfare, Brandeis University, 60 Turner Street, Waltham, MA 02154, Phone: (617) 736-4890, FAX: (617) 736-4891, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Best practices and evaluation sharing network of community organizations and activists.
The Community Tool Box. (http://ctb.lsi.ukans.edu)
Contains a great, user-friendly resource “book,” broken down into chapters and sections with topics like “Conducting Needs Assessment Surveys,” “Developing a Plan for Identifying Local Needs and resources,” Identifying Community Assets,” “Measuring Success: Evaluating Community Initiatives,” and many others. Written very clearly and for practitioners, the chapters contain checklists, references, links to related chapters, and overheads. Very recommendable.
Connell, James P et al. (eds) (1995) New Approaches to Evaluating Community Initiatives. Concepts, Methods, and Contexts. Washington, D.C.: The Aspen Institute.
A compilation of innovative chapters suggesting that comprehensive community initiatives (CCIs) are difficult to evaluate for reasons that relate both to the design of the initiatives themselves and the state of evaluation methods and measures. They also suggest that work can be done on both fronts that will enhance the field’s ability to learn from and to judge the effectiveness of CCIs and, ultimately, other social welfare interventions.
To order, contact: Roundtable on Comprehensive Community Initiatives for Children and Families (A project of the Aspen Institute), 281 Park Ave. South, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10010, (212) 677-5510
De Souza Briggs and Elizabeth J. Mueller with Mercer L. Sullivan. (1997) From Neighborhood To Community. Evidence on the Social Effects of Community Development. New York: Community Development Research Center, New School for Social Research.
This study responds “to the need for hard evidence on a wide range of often-claimed community development corporations’ accomplishments—not just the number of housing units produced, but also residents’ satisfaction, safety, employability, and sense of community. This extensive project was conducted in three cities and developed from first-hand field research carried out in CDC neighborhoods for almost a year. Available from the Community Development Research Center (NYC) at (212) 229-5414.” (Harvard University)
A nonprofit organization that provides participatory evaluation services to other nonprofits. Evaluation toolbox on the net at: http://www.inetwork.org. The purpose of the site is to provide you with the tools, instruction, guidance and framework to create detailed program plans, evaluation plans and fundraising plans. You will be able to download these plans and immediately put them to use and include them in proposals.
Redefining Progress, Tyler Norris Associates and Sustainable Seattle. The Community Indicators Handbook.
A step-by-step guide on developing new measures of community health and well-being. The Handbook is designed to support the growing indicator movement, as local government, business and grassroots leaders seek better ways to assess progress. It draws on experience of dozens of projects around the United States, and presents how-to’s and resources for tailoring an indicator project to the specific needs of a community. Appendices include a directory of indicator projects nationwide, data sources and organizational resource listings. To order, contact: Redefining Progress, One Kearny Street, 4th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94108, Phone: 415-781-1191, http://www.rprogress.org
Sullivan, Mercer L. (1993) More Than Housing: How Community Development Corporations Go About Changing Lives and Neighborhoods. New York: Community Development Research Center, New School for Social Research.
This study provides evidence for the harder-to-quantify, social effects of community development corporations. It precedes a similar study, From Neighborhood To Community. Evidence on the Social Effects of Community Development (see above).
Available from the Community Development Research Center (NYC) at (212) 229-5414.
Prepared by NPC of NYS, Inc. with funding from DHCR.