asset-based community development 101: a people-centered approach

March 20, 2024, 1:00 - 4:30 PM ET | Virtual Workshop




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Virtual Workshop Hours

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Coaching Call

build your community development toolkit

What we've learned over the past three years is the importance of community and those who live in our neighbourhoods. This is the time to try something new and reflect on how our cities and towns have changed and how this affects the way we show up in the community.    

We need to rethink the role that the people and communities play in solving local problems.  In this workshop, you will be introduced to Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) as a people-centered approach to program planning. The ABCD approach looks for and starts with people's gifts and strengths (assets), when these assets are connected they can then address the problems and challenges in their communities.  

Join Heather Keam and Wendy McCaig to work through the foundations and principles of ABCD and how to center community in your programs and activities. This workshop is for those who are new to ABCD or want a refresher as ABCD has changed a lot over the past 10 years.   


Workshop Pre-Learning

Prepare you for the content within the workshop

Complete a self-reflection exercise

3.5 Hour Virtual Workshop 

Gain a deeper understanding of what is ABCD, its foundational theory and practices
Learn how to center people within the community development process

1-Hour Coaching Session

Deepen your understanding of the workshop content

Receive personalized support from Heather to translate your knowledge into action

what will you learn?

Participants will work through the resources, methods, and 7 functions of ABCD. There will also be an opportunity to explore how an ABCD lens can be applied to your current work. Participants will learn about:  

  • ABCD as a people-centered approach: ABCD is a community-driven development (bottom-up) approach. It's about focusing on strengths and not deficits or needs to develop programs and plans.   

  • Resources in a community: ABCD is about uncovering the six assets or resources that communities have that are used to enhance local well-being.   

  • Methods to find assets: ABCD approaches are iterative and emergent. While there are no methods that we can prescribe, there are several practices that communities around the world have found helpful.  Asset Mapping is one way to uncover hidden community assets.  

  • The functions of a community: Seven functions are critical features of local natural community work. They are bottom-up, hyper-local, and citizen-led. 

resources on asset-based community development

The ABCD in Canada website is a space dedicated to illuminating and deepening ways to apply the principles and practices of Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) and other strengths-based approaches to community change. 

meet the workshop facilitators

Heather headshot 3 july 2021

Heather Keam

Heather works with municipalities and organizations to build strategies that put people at the center using Asset-Based Community Development. With over 22 years of experience in community development, she uses an ABCD approach to center people and belonging in the development of community plans and strategies through coaching and training staff teams, facilitation, and writing about ABCD and Belonging.

She has a passion for the power of people and believes that people and communities are the solutions to local problems. She believes that we need to build a sense of community belonging so that people are connected to their community, and their place within it and get involved in decision-making.  She also believes that municipalities need to shift the way they show up in community from doing “for” to supporting communities to do themselves.  

Learn more about Heather


Wendy McCaig

Wendy is the founder and Executive Director of Embrace Communities. She has been a practitioner of Asset-Based Community Development since 2005 and has been coaching and training organizations on how to strengthen communities from the inside out since 2012.

Wendy is the author of “From the Sanctuary to the Streets” (CASCADE books 2010) and “Power Shift: A Field Guide for Community Cultivators Everywhere.” Wendy is a steward of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute housed at DePaul University where she facilitates several work groups and communities of practice with ABCD practitioners from across the globe.  She holds a Master of Divinity degree from the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond and a degree in Accounting from Texas A&M University. Wendy’s training and coaching clients include leaders from the non-profit, faith, government, and education sectors. Wendy is married to her high school sweetheart, has three young adult children, and currently resides in Appomattox, Virginia.  

pricing & logistics

Registration for this session is now open and limited to 70 learners to ensure a dynamic learning experience. Participants will be sent a pre-workshop package, including log-in details for the virtual workshop. All participants will receive an email to register for a follow-up coaching session one month after the event. At this interactive session, small groups of workshop participants will be encouraged to share their emerging questions and receive further support in translating the workshop’s learning into action.

Registration includes pre-workshop learning and access to the workshop itself. It also includes membership in the Tamarack's Learning community.

Post-workshop, participants will be invited to register for a post-event coaching session. At this interactive session, small groups of workshop participants will be encouraged to share their emerging questions and receive further support in translating the workshop’s learning into action.

Can’t attend the workshop, but love the content? Get in touch with Stephanie to learn more about how you can bring a custom version of this workshop to your organization or collaborative.


single registration



group registration



tamarack member


CEP, CBB, CCT, and CBYF members are eligible for the group rate.

The Paul Born Be A Light Scholarship Fund

We want everyone to learn how to improve their community! To ensure this, Tamarack supports low-income learners through the Paul Born Be a Light Fund.

Please fill out this form if you would like to apply for a scholarship. You can also learn how you can donate to the Paul Born Be A Light Fund and get a charitable receipt. Reach out to Stephanie if you have any questions or concerns.