Culturally Responsive Community Development



Culturally Responsive Community Development (CRCD)

CRCD is the heart of our mission to nourish communities affected by poverty and injustice to make their residents’ vision of a thriving community a reality.

Our goal is to increase residents’ participation in the life of the community, and connect and support organizations and leaders, to promote greater social wellbeing and cohesion.

We are currently launching our first comprehensive CRCD project with partners in the Auburn-Gresham community on Chicago’s South Side.

Steps to CRCD

Like all good community organizing, our work begins with building relationships, a core element of our model for change.

Community Engagement Initiative

Download our Comic Book for a visual guide to our Community Engagement Initiative:  “Become” Issue I Volume I

After receiving an invitation to work with or within a specific organization or community, we will develop a community engagement plan.

This is a period of listening and learning, in which we will conduct focus groups and interviews and build capacity, for example by training residents to carry out their own targeted dialogues. This will help us learn about the place and connect residents, institutions, and leaders. The information we gain will be used to create a plan.

For example, in Auburn Gresham we plan to engage 800 community members and institutional representatives in focused dialogue to guide capacity building strategies and pathways for enhancing collective efficacy for achieving community goals. Cultural strengths that emerge from the interviews will be a focal point in the planning phase of community engagement, as we convene with local residents and leaders to develop priorities and an action plan.

Design, Implement, & Evaluate

We will design a Community Development Office, in which the focus of the work, structure, personnel, etc. are based off the community’s wisdom and cultural strengths, action research with the community, available published research, and lessons learned from experts and trusted advisors.

The implementation will include clear roles for us, community members, formal and informal leaders, and community institutions. While we offer evaluation as a service to community groups and organizations, we will also evaluate the overall process and progress of our community process, looking at both outputs (what has been completed) and outcomes (what has changed, e.g. rates of violence, social cohesion).

Share Lessons Learned & Expand

Our goal is not only a thriving community but also to contribute to a larger movement for social justice. As such, we would hope work in one community will help others facing similar situations.

Therefore, we will take lessons learned and disseminate to other communities and professionals so they can adapt and tailor the essential components and apply it to their work. We also take our lessons and advocate for more just policies that will influence other communities.

For a more comprehensive look at our practice please download our White paper: “Culturally Responsive Practice