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Community Development

Whether you’re working to increase citizen involvement, energize your local economy, or improve your community’s image, the Heartland Center can help. In addition to capacity building programs for community leaders, the Center is recognized as an innovator of creative ideas for community revitalization.

We have many years of experience in facilitating community development training for diverse groups of development practitioners, elected officials, business leaders, educators, foundation representatives, policy makers and community activists from across the nation. The value of these learning experiences was recently illustrated by a survey of “graduates” who reported dramatic increases in skill levels after completing Heartland Center workshops.

Some training topics include:

Community Development Theory and Practice.  Introduces basic principles including theory and definition of community development and how it relates to economic development and leadership development. Also includes community development values and beliefs, roles and approaches.

Appreciative Inquiry.  Learn a new approach to success-based community development. This positive approach to revitalization is gaining worldwide recognition as a powerful tool for moving communities forward by examining past success. Investigate a new way of thinking about organizations and communities. Learn how to apply AI to planning, evaluation and coaching. Practice the steps: Discover, Dream, Design and Deliver. Develop a plan for using AI in your practice.

Mapping Community Assets.  Provides techniques for inventorying local community development assets and shows how to match those assets with strategies for dealing with current and emerging issues.

Energizing Entrepreneurship in Rural America.  Introduces different kinds of support a community can provide from within its own set of resources that encourage the development of local entrepreneurship. We also explore how these communities are preventing “brain drain” by helping their most promising young citizens create future opportunities close to home. The training curriculum and accompanying educational materials teach rural community leaders how to replicate the success stories they learn about.

Citizen Involvement Techniques.  Outlines practical strategies for increasing participation in community development activities. Teaches existing leaders new ways to combat “burnout,” and how to encourage and support emerging leaders.

Tools for Attracting Young People: The Future of Rural Communities. Why do we envision opportunity for our children as somewhere else, but not at home? And what does it take to change that mindset? This workshop helps community leaders and volunteers develop place based strategies for doing battle with the “brain drain.” Take home a formula to determine youth retention and attraction goals for your own community. Learn how to identify and engage entrepreneurial youth from case studies and resources on youth entrepreneurship success.

Advanced Facilitation Skills.  Are you really comfortable with facilitating group process? Need new skills for working with difficult issues? This training program can help you retool in the basics. Review five areas of facilitator competency. Work in a team to develop skills critical to facilitating groups. Complete a facilitator self-assessment, and learn a “language of group skills.”

Managing Community Conflict Focuses on ways to manage community, organizational or personal conflict. Includes strategies for building community consensus and mediating public disputes.

Diversity as Opportunity: Overcoming Community Polarization.  America is becoming more racially and culturally diverse. Is your community tapping into the power of new people? Explore your own attitudes about “difference.” Learn how diversity is a keystone to economic development. Discover ways to use your diverse population as a marketing tool, and share techniques for recruiting a diverse leadership group.

Strengthening Social Capital.  Move from reactive to proactive practice. Learn how social networking can become one of your community’s greatest resources. Review the theory of social capital and its importance to community vitality, and learn how to gauge the level of social capital in your community. Discover new ways to revitalize clubs and associations, and take home techniques for building reciprocity, networks and trust.

Marketing Your Community.  Explores techniques to help spread the word about a community’s unique assets and attractions. Includes basic skill-building activities that teach participants how to write a news release and get it published. Also includes a sample promotion schedule and an outline of activities to promote a community event.

To learn more about community development, view our sample projects.