The Asset-Based Community Development Institute (ABCD), located at the Center for Civic Engagement, is at the center of a large and growing movement that considers local assets as the primary building blocks of sustainable community development. Building on the skills of local residents, the power of local associations, and the supportive functions of local institutions, asset-based community development draws upon existing community strengths to build stronger, more sustainable communities for the future.

We invite you to learn about the institute and its work in the university and community context. Please also visit our faculty pages, and become acquainted with our many community partners. We hope you will join us in building strong communities.

The Center for Civic Engagement

Northwestern University's Center for Civic Engagement promotes a lifelong commitment to active citizenship and social responsibility among all students. Through an integration of academics with meaningful volunteer service, research and community partnerships, the Center supports students, faculty, staff and alumni as they enhance their own academic experiences while contributing to stronger communities and a more engaged university.

The ABCD Institute is excited to be a part of the Center for Civic Engagement. Learn more about the center.

Highlight from the June 2015  ABCD Festival in Blackpool, UK

What a fabulous gathering! The ABCD Festival drew people from all over the world. 180 people from 21 countries gathered to learn, celebrate and connect with fellow ABCD practitioners.

The Festival presented those who attended with an opportunity to hear from practitioners, local residents and fellow ABCD enthusiasts from around the world about their community building efforts.

Links to a few of the highlights:

Video: Keynote speech,"'Looking Inside Out: Our Way Is the Community Way," by ABCD faculty member and head of ABCD Europe, Cormac Russell

Video: John McKnight's keynote speech "What I Have Learned So Far," the history, practice and future of ABCD

Audio: Jody Kretzmann on "Reading the Tea Leaves"

Video: Cormac Russell book Launch of "Looking Back to Looking Forward: in conversation with John McKnight," the heritage of ABCD and its place in the world today.

Video: Faculty member Peter Kenyon’s talk "Rural Development around the World Through the Lens of ABCD

For more ABCD Festival audio presentations and interviews, click here for the Coady International website.

Festival co-hosts:

ABCD Institute
ABCD Europe
Coady International Institute
ABCD in Action
ABCD Asia Pacific
Bank of I.D.E.A.S.

Visit Our Events Page to Learn about Upcoming ABCD Learning Opportunities

ABCD Australia and Asia Pacific History

Read about "The Emergence of ABCD in Australia and the Asia Pacific"
by Dee Brooks

Join our online community
of practice!
ABCD In Action 

Participate in discussions, share ideas and learn from others implementing ABCD in their communities. Click here to join today — then click 'sign up' on the righthand side.

Coady International Institute Street Francis Xavier University
Asset-Based and Citizen-Led Development Course

April 18 - May 5, 2016

This course is built on lessons learned from communities that are driving their own development. Through class work and field visits, participants are introduced to principles and methods for supporting citizen-led sustainable change where they work, and leave with a plan for operationalizing an asset-based and citizen-driven development (ABCD) approach.
It is recommended that you apply six months before course is held.

For more information and to apply

Faculty member Cormac Russell's new e-book on the history of ABCD through interviews with co-founder of the ABCD Institute John McKnight illuminates the catalytic influences behind this movement and its place in the world today.
Read a review by Al Etmanski
More info
available at:
Barnes and Noble

ABCD Community Story

Our Town Rocks
People's daily lives affect their health in countless ways — from the sense of safety and connection to neighbors, to the availability of healthy food, to access to green space and fresh air. And when a neighborhood is inspired to improve from the inside out by building on strengths rather than dwelling on needs, it can realize improved physical, social and economic health. The S2AY Rural Health Network, a regional health agency, set out on a long-term project to help residents of rural Yates County, New York, kickstart their community. The agency brought residents together and helped them discover their own strengths, and Our Town RoCKS, short for “Raising our Community, especially our Kids, to be Strong," was born.

Click here to learn more about Our Town RoCKS

Do you have a story of ABCD applied in your community? If you'd like to share, e-mail

Follow Co-Founder John McKnight's Blog
ABCD Institute founder and co-director John McKnight is blogging! Please visit to read his latest posts and learn more about his new book, An Other Kingdom, co-written with ABCD Faculty member Peter Block and Walter Brueggemann.

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