How to Reframe Community Needs as Opportunities

How to Reframe Community Needs as Opportunties

This week we welcome guests Dr. William Landon and Suzanne Vaughn from the Neighborhood Centers Inc. to GrantChat. The Neighborhood Centers is a community-development agency that has more than 100 years’ experience in providing services to Houston area neighborhoods with programs that help our neighbors “learn, earn, belong and be well.”  Neighborhood Centers brings resources, education, and connection to emerging neighborhoods.  Will, Neighborhood Centers Evaluation Manager in the Program Planning and Evaluation Department, oversees and coordinates evaluation efforts to gain understanding, inform decision-making, improve effectiveness, and communicate value.  Suzanne Vaughan, Neighborhood Centers Strategic Research and Partnerships Advisor, designs and coordinates evaluation and research to develop and demonstrate impact across the Neighborhood Centers’ three strategic goals: Educational Attainment, Appreciative Inquiry, and Asset-Based approaches. 

Will and Suzanne want to help the GrantChat community to look at needs assessments a little differently than we may have been trained to do it or than we have been doing needs assessments for our communities and programs. We know that you, as grant professionals, must use community needs assessments to tell your community’s story, to engage funders in investing in your projects, and to clearly state the problems and the solutions. Often, our grant proposals can only be as strong as our community needs assessments. What if you could get at the issues and the solutions by asking the right questions within the communities you serve?

Neighborhood Centers’ Appreciative Inquiry

The Neighborhood Center takes a community engagement approach to needs assessments. In fact, they take it a step further, using an appreciative approach, they ask, ‘What is right?’ and build upon existing community assets and strengths.  The Neighborhood Centers’ leader puts it this way:

The first principle of community development is that the people are not the problem, people are the asset. The second principle is that the leadership needed in every neighborhood is already there.   ~ Angela Blanchard, CEO, Neighbohood Centers Inc.


Question Preview:

Q1: What is a needs assessment? #grantchat

Q2: What are the most pressing needs in your community/issue area? #grantchat

Q3: How do you identify the needs of a community? #grantchat

Q4: What gives life to your community/issue area? What makes it work, “dance” & “sing”? #grantchat

Q5: Define community “assets” that “asset-based approaches” focus on? #grantchat

Q6: How do you identify the strengths or assets of a community? #grantchat

Q7: Are funders more focused on the needs & problems of communities vs. strengths?  #grantchat

Q8: Is there a danger that asset-based approaches focus on the positives and ignore the negatives? #grantchat

Q9: Why would using assets to reframe needs to opportunities appeal to funders? #grantchat

Q10: What other results might we get from an emphasis on “assets” versus “needs”? #grantchat


Join our Grantchat Facebook Group to get the check in question and to keep the discussion going!

We’re looking forward to having you join @Grant_Chat at 12 Noon ET.

Sponsor: SmartEGrants @smartegrants

Guests: Will Landon and Suzanne Vaughan @suzannevee with @NeighborhoodCtr

Host: Jo Miller, GPC @jm_grants


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