Since its founding, Partners for Sacred Places has worked with congregations to embrace the Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) model. ABCD is a challenge to the traditional approach to rebuilding communities. It provides a new framework for thinking about neighborhoods and new strategies for mobilizing congregations in a positive way.
While traditional community development tends to focus on neighborhood deficiencies, Asset-Based Community Development focuses on the gifts and talents of individuals and the capacity of neighbors and neighborhoods to be producers of change – to change communities from within. ABCD allows congregations to cultivate connections within the community, mobilize the capacities of local individuals, associations, and institutions and empower community residents to become leaders.
Partners works with congregations to: identify new stakeholders and develop strategies for connecting the congregation's assets with the gifts and talents of their members and neighbors; identify key local assets - physical, individual, associational, institutional; and seek to connect these assets in new ways.
Launched with support from the William Penn Foundation, the Exemplars Project sought to identify, spotlight, and build awareness of congregation-based programs and social services that are particularly innovative, affordable, and effective. This initiative, which was piloted in Philadelphia and presents opportunities for replication nationwide, offers new evidence of the centrality of sacred places in community life.
Partners engaged the Public Health Management Corporation to evaluate program quality in seven program areas: after-school programs; health promotion and nutrition education; behavioral health and addictions treatment; programs serving the homeless; older adult services; business and community development; and adult education. Characteristics of exemplary programs in an eighth area – childcare – were drawn from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Keystone STARS program, which is an initiative of the state’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning to improve, support, and recognize the continuous quality improvement efforts of early learning programs.
Download a summary of the report here.