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John L. McKnight
John P. Kretzmann
Institute for Policy Research
Mapping Community Capacity
The Asset-Based Community Development Institute
This was a report of the Neighborhood Innovations Network
by John L. McKnight and John Kretzmann, 1990
No one can doubt that our older cities these days are deeply troubled places.
At the root of the problem are the massive economic shifts that have marked the
last two decades. Hundreds of thousands of industrial jobs have either
disappeared or moved away from the central city and its neighborhoods. And
while many downtown areas have experienced a "renaissance," the jobs created
there are different from those that once sustained neighborhoods. Either these
new jobs are highly professionalized, and require elaborate education and
credentials for entry, or they are routine, low-paying service jobs without much of a
future. In effect, these shifts in the economy, and particularly the removal of decent
employment possibilities from low-income neighborhoods, have removed the
bottom rung from the fabled American "ladder of opportunity." For many people in
older city neighborhoods, new approaches to rebuilding their lives and
communities, new openings toward opportunity, are a vital necessity.
Traditional Needs-Oriented Solutions
Given the desperate situation, it is no surprise that most Americans think
about lower income urban neighborhoods as problems. They are noted for their
deficiencies and needs. This view is accepted by most elected officials who codify
and program this perspective through deficiency-oriented policies and programs.
Then, human service systems -- often supported by foundations and universities --
translate the programs into local activities that teach people the nature of their
problems, and the value of services as the answer to their problems. As a result,
many low-income urban neighborhoods are now environments of service where
behaviors are affected because residents come to believe that their well-being
depends upon being a client. They see themselves as people with special needs
to be met by outsiders. And gradually, they become mainly consumers of services
with no incentive to be producers. Consumers of services focus vast amounts of
creativity and intelligence on the survival-motivated challenge of outwitting the
"system," or on finding ways -- in the informal or even illegal economy -- to bypass
There is nothing "natural" about this process. Indeed, it is the predictable
course of events when deficiency and needs-oriented programs come to dominate
the lives of neighborhoods where low-income people reside.
The Capacity-Focused Alternative
The alternative is to develop policies and activities based on the capacities,
skills, and assets of low-income people and their neighborhoods.
There are two reasons for this capacity-oriented emphasis. First, all the
historic evidence indicates that significant community development only takes
place when local community people are committed to investing themselves and
their resources in the effort. This is why you can't develop communities from the
top down, or from the outside in. You can, however, provide valuable outside
assistance to communities that are actively developing their own assets.
The second reason for emphasizing the development of the internal assets of
local urban neighborhoods is that there is very little prospect that large-scale
industrial or service corporations will be locating in these neighborhoods. Nor is it
likely, in spite of a prospective "Peace Dividend," that significant new inputs of
federal money will be forthcoming soon. Therefore, it is increasingly futile to wait
for significant help to arrive from outside the community. The hard truth is that
development must start from within the community and, in most of our urban
neighborhoods, there is no other choice.
Unfortunately, the dominance of the deficiency-oriented social service model
has led many people in low-income neighborhoods to think in terms of local needs
rather than assets. These needs are often identified, quantified, and mapped by
conducting "needs surveys." The result is a map of the neighborhood's illiteracy,
teenage pregnancy, criminal activity, drug use, etc.
But in neighborhoods where there are effective community development
efforts, there is also a map of the community's assets, capacities, and abilities. For
it is clear that even the poorest city neighborhood is a place where individuals and
organizations represent resources upon which to rebuild. The key to
neighborhood regeneration is not only to build upon those resources which the
community already controls, but to harness those that are not yet available for
The process of identifying capacities and assets, both individual and
organizational, is the first step on the path toward community regeneration. Once
this new "map" has replaced the one containing needs and deficiencies, the
regenerating community can begin to assemble its assets and capacities into new
combinations, new structures of opportunity, new sources of income and control,
and new possibilities for production.
Mapping the Building Blocks for Regeneration
It is useful to begin by recognizing that not all community assets are equally
available for community-building purposes. Some are more accessible than
others. The most easily accessible assets, or building blocks, are those that are
located in the neighborhood and controlled by those who live in the
The next most accessible are those assets that are located in the
neighborhood but controlled elsewhere.
The least accessible are those potential building blocks located outside the
neighborhood and controlled by those outside the neighborhood.
Therefore, we will "map" community assets based upon the accessibility of
assets to local people. We turn now to a more detailed discussion of each of these
Primary Building Blocks -- Assets and Capacities Located
Inside the Neighborhood, Largely
Under Neighborhood Control
This cluster of capacities includes those that are most readily available for
neighborhood regeneration. They fall into two general categories: the assets and
capacities of individuals and those of organizations or associations. The first step
in capturing any
of these resources is to assess them, which often involves making
Our greatest assets are our people. But people in low-income
neighborhoods are seldom regarded as "assets." Instead, they are usually seen
as needy and deficient, suited best for life as clients and recipients of services.
Therefore, they are often subjected to systematic and repeated inventories of their
deficiencies with a device called a "needs survey."
The starting point for any serious development effort is the opposite of an
accounting of deficiencies. Instead there must be an opportunity for individuals to
use their own abilities to produce. Identifying the variety and richness of skills,
talents, knowledge, and experience of people in low-income neighborhoods
provides a base upon which to build new approaches and enterprises.
To assist in identifying the skills and abilities of individuals, an inventory of
capacities can be developed -- a simple survey designed to identify the multitude
of abilities within each individual.1 Neighborhood residents have used the
"Capacity Inventory" to identify the talents available to start new enterprises. For
1A model "Capacity Inventory" is attached as Appendix A.
example, people have begun a new association of home health care providers
and a catering business. Public housing residents in a number of cities have
formed local corporations to take over the management of their developments.
They immediately needed to identify the skills and abilities of neighbors in order to
be effective. The "Capacity Inventory" provided the necessary information
allowing people to become producers rather than problems.
. Another vital asset of individuals is their income. It is
generally assumed that low-income neighborhoods are poor markets. However,
some studies suggest that there is much more income per capita than is assumed.
Nonetheless, it is often used in ways that do not support local economic
development. Therefore, effective local development groups can inventory the
income, savings, and expenditure patterns in their neighborhoods. This
information is basic to understanding the neighborhood economy and developing
new approaches to capturing local wealth for local development.
The gifts of labeled people
. There is rich potential waiting to be identified and
contributed by even the most marginalized individuals. Human service systems
have labeled these people "retarded, mentally ill, disabled, elderly, etc." They are
likely to become dependents of service systems, excluded from community life,
and considered as burdens rather than assets to community life.
In the last five years, there have been a growing number of unique
community efforts to incorporate "labeled" people into local organizations,
enterprises, and community associations. 2 Their gifts and abilities are identified
and are introduced to groups who value these contributions. The results have
been amazing demonstrations as the "underdeveloped" hospitality of
2A report of these initiatives, The Gift of Hospitality: Opening the Doors of Community Life to Peoplewith Disabilities
, is available from the Department of Publications, Institute for Policy Research,Northwestern University, 2040 Sheridan Road, Evanston, Illinois 60208-4100 for $4.00.
neighborhood people has been rediscovered and gifts, contributions, and
capacities of even the most disabled people are revealed.
Individual local businesses
. The shops, stores, and businesses that survive
in low-income neighborhoods -- especially those smaller enterprises owned and
operated by individual local residents -- are often more than economic ventures.
They are usually centers for community life as well. Any comprehensive approach
to community regeneration will inventory these enterprises and incorporate the
energies and resources of these entrepreneurs into neighborhood development
processes. The experience and insight of these individual entrepreneurs might
also be shared with local not-for-profit groups and with students.
. It is fairly simple to inventory the shops, stores, and
businesses in low-income neighborhoods. However, as neighborhoods become
lower income, there is often an increase in informal and home-based enterprise.
Local development groups have begun to make an effort to understand the nature
of these individual entrepreneurs and their enterprises. After gathering
information about and from them, development groups can identify the factors that
initiated such enterprises, and the additional capital or technical assistance that
could increase their profits and the number of people they support.
Associational and Organizational Capacities
Beyond individual capacities are a wide range of local resident-controlled
associations and organizations. Here is an initial inventory.
. In addition to businesses and enterprises, low-income
communities have a variety of clubs and associations that do vital work in assuring
productive neighborhoods. These groups might include service clubs, fraternal
organizations, women's organizations, artistic groups, and athletic clubs.3 They
3A list of the types of local groups at work in most neighborhoods, "An Associational Map," isincluded as Appendix B.
are the infrastructure of working neighborhoods. Those involved in the
community-building process can inventory the variety of these groups in their
neighborhoods, the unique community activities they support, and their potential to
take on a broader set of responsibilities.4 Then these groups can become a part
of the local asset development process. Or they may affiliate in other ways (e.g.,
by creating a congress of neighborhood associations).
Associations of businesses
. In many older neighborhoods, local business
people are not organized. Where they are organized, they are not informed about
effective joint partnerships in neighborhood economic development. Connecting
local businesses with each other and expanding their vision or their self-interest in
community development is a major effort of effective community-building activities.
. Relatively few older neighborhoods have a community-
oriented financial institution, such as a bank, savings institution, or credit union.
But where they do exist, they are invaluable assets.
One ambitious and successful example of a locally-controlled financial
institution is the South Shore Bank in Chicago. The Bank has been a continuing
experiment in how to capture local savings and convert them to local residential
and commercial development. A related effort in Bangladesh, called the Gameen
Bank, is a successful experiment in very small capitalization for small community
enterprises. Similar experiments are taking place in the United States involving
credit unions. All of these inventions are new tools to capture local wealth for local
development. Their presence or potential is a central resource for the future of a
4A guide to inventorying local associations titled Getting Connected: How to Find Out About Groupsand Organizations In Your Neighborhood
is available from the Department of Publications, Institutefor Policy Research, Northwestern University, 2040 Sheridan Road, Evanston, Illinois 60208-4100for $6.00.
. People in low-income neighborhoods are
increasingly giving public expression to their rich cultural inheritance. Celebrating
the history of the neighborhood, and the peoples who have gathered there, is
central to forming a community identity and countering the negative images that
originate outside the community. Neighborhood history fairs, celebrative block
and neighborhood parties featuring the foods, music, dancing, and games of
diverse peoples; cross-cultural discussions and classes; oral history projects,
theatrical productions based on oral histories -- all these hold great potential for
building strong relationships among residents and for regaining definitional
control of the community. In many neighborhoods, local artists are central to the
. Strong neighborhoods rely heavily on their
capacity to exchange information and engage in discussions. Neighborhood
newspapers, particularly those controlled by local residents, are invaluable public
forums. So too are less comprehensive media such as newsletters, fliers, even
bulletin boards. In addition both local access cable TV and local radio hold
promise as vehicles relevant to community building.
. Finally, any list of organizational assets in
communities would be woefully incomplete without the local expressions of
religious life. Local parishes, congregations, and temples have involved
themselves increasingly in the community-building agenda, sometimes through
community organizations or community development groups, sometimes simply
building on the strengths of their own members and networks. In fact, the ability of
local religious institutions to call upon related external organizations for support
and resources constitutes a very important asset.
In summary, then, the primary building blocks include those community
assets that are most readily available for rebuilding the neighborhood. These
involve both individual and organizational strengths. Our initial list includes:
Skills, talents, and experience of residents
Secondary Building Blocks -- Assets Located within the
Community but Largely
Controlled by Outsiders
Though a good many individuals and associational capacities are already
within the control of the people who live in the neighborhood, others, though
physically a part of the community, are directed and controlled from outside. To
capture these assets for community-building purposes, neighborhood actors will
not only conduct inventories but will construct strategies designed to enhance the
regenerative uses of these assets. The examples which follow fall into three
categories: private and not-for-profit organizations; public institutions and
services; and other physical resources.
Private and Non-Profit Organizations
Institutions of higher education
. Private and public junior colleges, colleges,
and universities, remain in, or adjacent to, many older urban neighborhoods.
However, they are often quite detached from the local community. Community
building groups are creating new experiments with partnerships in community
development between local institutions of higher education and those who are
. Next to public schools, hospitals are the most prevalent major
institution remaining in many older neighborhoods. They are a tremendous
reserve of assets and resources to support initiatives in community enterprise. In a
few cases, hospitals have created innovative local partnerships. Creative
development groups are exploring the nature of the development assets
controlled by their local hospitals.
Social service agencies
. Though often dedicated to the delivery of individual
service to the clients -- an activity that does not necessarily contribute to
community building -- local social service agencies do have the potential to
introduce capacity-oriented strategies to their programs. Many, in fact, have
begun to see economic development and job creation as appropriate activities,
while others have entered into networks and partnerships with community
organizations and neighborhood development groups for community-building
Public Institutions and Services
Of the range of public institutions and services that exist in low-income
communities, a few deserve to be highlighted for their community-building
. Big city schools have often become so separate from local
community initiatives that they are a liability rather than an asset. The Carnegie
Commission on Public Education has said that the primary educational failing of
the local public school is its separation from the work and life of the community.
Therefore, localities need to teach their schools how to improve their educational
function by connecting themselves to community development efforts. As an
integral part of community life, rather than an institution set apart, the local public
school can begin to function as a set of economic and human resources aimed at
. As with all other local institutions, the police need to participate in the
neighborhood revitalization enterprise. Much of the hesitance about new
investment of all kinds relates to issues of security. Therefore, local police officials
should be asked to join the asset development team acting as advisors and
resources to development projects. In a number of instances, responsive police
departments have joined with local community organizations and other groups to
devise and carry out joint safety and anti-crime strategies.
. In both small towns and large cities, the local fire
department boasts a tradition of consistent interaction with the community.
Because of the sporadic nature of their important work, firefighters are often
available for a variety of activities in the neighborhood. Retrieving and building
upon that tradition is an important strategy for community building.
. Many older neighborhoods contain branches of the public library,
often underfunded and under-used. Considered not only as a repository for books
and periodicals, but also as the center of a neighborhood's flow of information, the
library becomes a potentially critical participant in community regeneration. For
example, neighborhoods which choose to enter into a community planning
process will need localized information on which to base their deliberations. The
availability of library-based personal computers can enhance access to a variety
of relevant data bases. The library can also provide space for community
meetings and initiate community history and cultural projects.
5A short pamphlet, "A Primer For a School's Participation in the Development of Its LocalCommunity," describes more than 30 educationally sound ideas for involving the local school incommunity development. It is available from the Department of Publications, Institute for PolicyResearch, Northwestern University, 2040 Sheridan Road, Evanston, Illinois 60208-4100 for $1.00.
. In many low-income communities, the local parks have fallen into
disrepair and are often considered uninviting and even dangerous. But when
local citizens organize themselves to reclaim these areas, they can be restored not
only physically, but functionally. As symbols of community accomplishment, they
can become sources of pride and centers for important informal relationship
building. Often, groups of existing associations will take joint responsibility for
renewing and maintaining a local park.
Besides the private and public institutions in the neighborhood, a variety of
physical assets are available. In fact, many of the most visible "problems" of low-
income neighborhoods, when looked at from an asset-centered perspective,
become opportunities instead. A few examples follow.
Vacant land, vacant commercial and industrial structures, vacant housing
Most older urban neighborhoods are thought to be "blighted" with vacant lots,
empty sites of old industry and unused industrial and commercial buildings.
However, in some U.S. cities, local groups have found creative and productive
methods to regenerate the usefulness of both the land and the buildings. They
identify potential new uses, create tools to inventory and plan for local reuses, and
organize the redevelopment process. Similarly, abandoned housing structures
are often structurally sound enough to be candidates for locally controlled
Energy and waste resources
. The costs of energy and waste collection are
relentless resource drains in older neighborhoods. As their costs escalate, they
demand a disproportionate and growing share of the limited income of poorer
people. As a result, maintenance of housing is often foregone and deterioration
speeds up. However, in some neighborhoods, this "problem" has become an
opportunity. New local enterprises are developing to reduce energy use and costs
and to recycle waste for profit. These initiatives need to be identified, nurtured,
These secondary building blocks are private, public, and physical assets,
which can be brought under community control and used for community-building
Private and Non-Profit Organizations
Public Institutions and Services
Vacant land, commercial and industrial structures, housingEnergy and waste resources
Potential Building Blocks -- Resources Originating Outside the
Neighborhood, Controlled by Outsiders
In this final cluster are resource streams which originate outside the
neighborhood, are controlled by institutions outside the neighborhood, but which
nonetheless might be captured for community-building purposes.
There is a sense in which all local public expenditures are potential
in development. However, in low-income neighborhoods they are
usually expenditures for the maintenance
of an impoverished neighborhood, and
for individuals in the absence of work. We need tools and models for converting
public expenditures into local development investments. In addition to the public
institutions cited above, two other public expenditures are critical.
. In Cook County, Illinois, over $6,000 is expended
annually by government for low-income programs for every man, woman, and
child whose income falls below the official poverty line. This substantial
investment ($24,000 for a family of four) is distributed so that on a per capita basis,
poor people receive only 37 percent in cash ($8,880 for a family of four) and 63
percent in services ($15,120).6 This creates an impoverished family dependent
on services. Creative community groups are developing new experiments where
some of these welfare dollars are reinvested in enterprise development and
Public capital improvement expenditures
. Every neighborhood is the site of
very substantial "infrastructure" investments. In downtown areas, these dollars
leverage private investment. In neighborhoods, the same funds are usually
applied only to maintenance functions. Effective community development groups
are creating experiments to convert local capital improvement funds into
. Wherever we have seen community innovation in local
neighborhoods, the people there have had to gain access to information not
normally available. What is the vacancy ratio in the worst buildings? How many
teachers have skills that could help our development corporation? What time do
the crimes that threaten our shopping center occur? How much property is off the
tax roles? What does the city plan to invest in capital improvements?
Unfortunately, most useful development planning data is collected for the use of
"downtown" systems. But as neighborhoods become responsible for their future,
information must be decoded and decentralized for local use.
6The study that documents this pattern of expenditures and recommends alternative uses is titledGovernment Spending For the Poor In Cook County, Illinois: Can We Do Better?
Written by DianeKallenback and Arthur Lyons, it is available from the Department of Publications, Institute for PolicyResearch, Northwestern University, 2040 Sheridan Road, Evanston, Illinois 60208-4100 for $7.00.
Some neighborhoods have done pioneering work in developing methods to
translate systems data into neighborhood information. This "neighborhood
information" is an invaluable asset in the development process.
These potential building blocks include major public assets which ambitious
neighborhoods might begin to divert to community-building purposes. At the
Welfare expendituresPublic capital improvement expendituresPublic information
Two Community Maps
This paper only begins to map the assets that exist in every neighborhood
and town. It is a new map that can guide us toward community regeneration.
But, there is another map, an old map of neighborhood deficiencies and
problems. As we noted at the outset, it is a "needs-oriented" neighborhood map
created by "needs surveys." This is a powerful map, teaching people in low-
income neighborhoods how to think about themselves and the place where they
This map is initiated by groups with power and resources who ask
neighborhood people to think of themselves in terms of deficiencies in order to
access the resources controlled by these groups. Among the groups that ask
neighborhood people to inventory their problems, needs, and deficiencies are
government agencies, foundations, universities, United Ways, and the mass
media. Indeed, the institutions that produce this map not only teach people in low-
income neighborhoods that their needs, problems, and deficiencies are valuable.
They also teach people outside these neighborhoods that the most important thing
about low-income people and their neighborhoods is their deficiencies, problems,
In this way, low-income people, helping institutions, and the general public
come to follow a map that shows that the most important part of low-income
neighborhoods is the empty, deficient, needy part. An example of this
Neighborhood Needs Map is on the following page:
Neighborhood Needs Map
It is true that this map of needs is accurate. But, it is also true that it is only
half the truth. It is like a map of the United States that shows only that portion east
of the Mississippi River. The United States is also the portion west of the
Mississippi River, and a map omitting the west is obviously inadequate in the most
Similarly, every neighborhood has a map of riches, assets, and capacities. It
is important to recognize that this is a map of the same
territory as the
neighborhood needs map. It is different because it shows a different part of the
neighborhood. But the most significant difference about this capacity map is that it
is the map a neighborhood must rely on if it is to find the power to regenerate itself.
Communities have never been built upon their deficiencies. Building
community has always depended upon mobilizing the capacities and assets of a
people and a place. That is why a map of neighborhood assets is necessary if
local people are to find the way toward empowerment and renewal. An example
of a Neighborhood Assets Map is on the following page:
Neighborhood Assets Map
Primary Building Blocks
Assets and capacities located inside the neighborhood, largely underneighborhood control.
Secondary Building Blocks
: ASSETS LOCATED WITHIN THE COMMUNITY, BUT LARGELY
CONTROLLED BY OUTSIDERS.
Potential Building Blocks
: Resources originating outside the neighborhood,
Finally, it is important to remember that this assets map is very incomplete
because it is new. It does not even begin to identify all of the assets of every
community. Therefore, we know that as more and more neighborhood
regeneration processes are created, residents will identify many more skills,
capacities, riches, assets, potential, and gifts to place on the map.
Using the Capacities Map
Most of the assets listed above already exist in many low-income
neighborhoods. They are waiting to be inventoried and turned toward the goal of
Different communities will approach this challenge with different strategies.
Leaders in every community, however, will need to consider at least three
questions which are central to the rebuilding task.
Which organizations can act most effectively
Development Organizations" in our neighborhood?
What kinds of community-wide research, planning, and decision-making processes can most democratically and effectively advancethis rebuilding process in our neighborhood?
Having inventoried and enlisted the participation of major assetsinside the community, how might we build useful bridges toresources located outside the community?
Asset Development Organizations
To begin with, who might lead the community-building process? Where
might the necessary Asset Development Organizations be found?
Two kinds of existing community associations are particularly well-suited to
the task of knitting together a neighborhood's various assets and capacities. The
first, already central to the lives of many older city neighborhoods, is the multi-
issue community organization, built along the "organization of organizations"
model of the late Saul Alinsky. Community organizers already understand the
importance of associational life to the well-being of the neighborhood, and to the
empowerment of the local residents. A number of these community organizations
are beginning to incorporate a capacity-oriented approach to community building
The second potential Asset Development Organization is, of course, the
community development corporation. Groups that are dedicated to community
economic development have often worked hard to assemble the business assets
available to the neighborhood. Many have championed strategies emphasizing
local purchasing and hiring, and have encouraged home-grown enterprise
development. All of these approaches can only be strengthened as the local
development corporation broadens and deepens its knowledge of community
Together or separately, these two types of community-based organizations
are well-suited to the challenge of asset development. But in many communities,
neither the multi-issue organizing group nor the development corporation may
exist. In these settings, neighborhood leaders face the challenge of creating a
new Asset Development Organization. This new organization may be built on the
strengths and interests of existing citizens associations, and will challenge those
associations to affiliate for these broader purposes.
The Community Planning Process
Having identified or created the Asset Development Organization, community
leaders face the challenge of instituting a broad-based process of community
planning and decision-making. Capacity-oriented community planning will no
doubt take many different forms. But all of them will share at least these
The neighborhood planning process will aim to involve as manyrepresentatives of internally located and controlled assets aspossible in the discussion and decisions. In fact, the map ofneighborhood assets provides an initial list of potential participantsin the planning effort.
The neighborhood planning process will incorporate some versionof a community capacity inventory in its initial stages.
The neighborhood planning process will develop community-building strategies which take full advantage of the interests andstrengths of the participants, and will aim toward building the powerto define and control the future of the neighborhood.
Building Bridges to Outside Resources
Finally, once the Asset Development Organization has been identified, and
has begun to mobilize neighborhood stakeholders in a broad-based process of
planning, participants will need to assemble the many additional resources
needed to advance the community-building process. This will involve constructing
bridges to persons and organizations outside the neighborhood.
It is clear that no low-income neighborhood can "go it alone." Indeed, every
neighborhood is connected to the outside society and economy. It is a mark of
many low-income neighborhoods that they are uniquely dependent on outside
human service systems. What they need, however, is to develop their assets and
with mainstream people, groups, and economic activity.
Organizations leading developing communities often create unique bridges
to the outside society. These are not to government alone. Instead, they bridge to
banks, corporations, churches, other neighborhood advocacy groups, etc. These
bridged relationships in the non-governmental sector are vital assets in opening
new opportunities for local residents and enterprises.
The task of the Asset Development Organization, then, involves both drawing
the map and using it. It involves leading the community interests into capacity-
oriented planning and creating the organizational power to enable that process to
become the map of the neighborhood's future. The challenge facing the Asset
Development Organization, and all of the participants in the neighborhood
planning process, is both daunting and filled with promise. However, meeting this
challenge to rebuild our neighborhoods from the inside out is crucial to the hopes
and aspirations of city dwellers everywhere.
CAPACITY INVENTORY V*
Hello. I’m _________________________ with the Uptown Center of Hull House or
Howard Area Community Center. We’re talking to local people about what skills they have.
With this information, we hope to help people start businesses. I’d like to ask you some
questions about your skills and where you have used them. Your participation is voluntary,
and the information is confidential.
PART I. SKILLS INFORMATION
Now I’m going to read to you a list of skills around which people build different kinds of small
neighborhood businesses. It’s an extensive list, so I hope you’ll bear with me. I’ll read the
skills and you stop me whenever we get to one you have. We are interested in your skills
and abilities. These are skills and abilities you’ve learned through experience in the home
or with the family, skills you’ve learned at church or elsewhere, as well as any skills you’ve
Prepared jointly by Brandon Neese, Howard Area Community Center; Dennis Marino, Uptown Center of
Hull House; and John McKnight, Northwestern University. Use of this inventory is encouraged and granted
by the designers to not-for-profit neighborhood-based organizations with the condition that they contact John
McKnight, at the folllowing address, regarding how the inventory is used. John McKnight, Northwestern
University, Center for Urban Affairs and Policy Research, 2040 Sheridan Road, Evanston, Illinois 60208-
4100 (Phone: 847/491-3395; Fax: 847/491-9916).
(IF YES ANSWERED TO ITEMS 1, 2, 3 OR 4,ASK THE FOLLOWING:)
Now, I would like to knowabout the kind of care you provided.
Construction of a Building
STOP AFTER #15,IF NO AFFIRMATIVE RESPONSE TO #1-15.
Operating Equipment &
Repairing Radios, TVs, VCRs,Tape Recorders
Repairing Heating &Air Conditioning System
Serving Food to Large Numbersof People (over 10)
Preparing Meals for Large Numbersof People (over 10)
Clearing/Setting Tables for LargeNumbers of People (over 10)
Washing Dishes for Large Numbersof People (over 10)
Operating Commercial FoodPreparation Equipment
Selling Products Wholesaleor for Manufacturer
How have you sold these products or services?
Moving Furniture or Equipmentto Different Locations
Are there any other skills that you have which we haven’t mentioned?
When you think about your skills, what three things do you think you do best?
Which of all your skills are good enough that other people would hire you to dothem?
What three skills would you most like to learn?
Are there any skills you would like to teach?
Please describe other special interests or activities that you have been involvedwith (e.g., sports, artistic activities, crafts, crossword puzzles, fishing, gardening,swimming).
Have you ever organized or helped organize any of the following community activi-ties? (Place check mark (✓), if yes)
Have you ever worked on a farm? If so, where and what did you do?
PART II. WORK EXPERIENCE
Now that we have discussed your skills, we would like to get a sense of your workexperience.
Are you currently employed? Yes ______ No ______
Are you between jobs? Yes _______ No _______
If employed, what is your job title and what skills do you use on the job?
A. Are you employed part-time or full-time? _________________________B. If working part-time, would you like additional work?
If not employed, are you interested in a job? Yes ______ No _____A. Full-timeB. Part-timeC. Are there things that would prevent you from working right now?
Have you ever been self-employed? Yes ______ No _______If yes, describe:
Have you ever operated a business from your home? Yes _____ No _____If yes, describe:
PART III. EDUCATION AND TRAINING
How many years of school did you complete? (Please circle)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 (High School Diploma)13 14 15 16 ( College Degree) (Advanced Degree)
Have you participated in any training programs that were not part of yourregular school studies? Yes _____ No _____1.
If yes, what kind of training did you participate in?
What kind of work did that training prepare you for?
PART IV. ENTERPRISING ATTITUDES AND EXPERIENCE
Have you ever considered starting a business? Yes _____ No _____1.
If yes, what kind of business did you have in mind?
Did you plan to start it alone or with other people?
Did you plan to operate it out of your home? Yes _____No _____
Are you currently earning money on your own through the sale of servicesor products?
If yes, what are the services or products you sell?
What types of businesses are needed in the neighborhood?
What businesses do we have in the neighborhood which are so unsatisfactorythat we should consider starting new, competing businesses?
What is the biggest obstacle you face in starting a business?
PART V. PERSONAL INFORMATION
Age: _______________ (If a precise age is not given, ask whether the person is
Thank you very much for your time. We will send you a summary of your responsesand the responses of others to this questionnaire.
Place of Interview: ___________________________________________________
AN ASSOCIATIONAL MAP
Chamber of Commerce, neighborhood business associations,trade groups
Charitable Groups & Drives:
service, prayer, maintenance, stewardship, acolytes, mens, womens,youth, seniors
stamp collectors, flower dryers, antiques
Community Support Groups:
"friends" of the library, nursing home, hospital
Sons of Norway, Black Heritage Club, Hibernians
Health & Fitness Groups:
town, township, electoral units, fire department, emergency units
cultural, political, social, educational, vocational
Alcoholics Anonymous, Epilepsy Self-Help, La Leche League
crime watch, beautification, Christmas decorations
garden clubs, Audubon Society, conservation clubs
Zonta, Kiwanis, Rotary, American Association of University Women
Social Cause Groups:
bowling, swimming, baseball, fishing, volleyball
American Legion, Amvets, Veterans of Foreign Wars, their Auxiliaries
cultural, political, social, educational, vocational
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