ABCD Institute > About > History
The Asset-Based Community Development Institute (ABCD) was co-founded by John L. McKnight, formerly the director of community studies at Northwestern University’s Institute for Policy Research, and his long-time collaborator in community research, John P. Kretzmann, a faculty member in the School of Education and Social Policy and IPR Faculty Associate at Northwestern. Challenging the traditional approach to solving urban problems, which focuses service providers and funding agencies on the needs and deficiencies of neighborhoods, Kretzmann and McKnight have demonstrated that community assets are key building blocks in sustainable urban and rural community revitalization efforts. These community assets include:
As a result of the widespread interest in the principles and practices associated with ABCD, the institute has developed a faculty of over 75 highly skilled practitioners who have worked as consultants, workshop leaders, and speakers for the many and diverse constituencies interested in this approach. Many of these faculty members have contributed to a series of ABCD community-building workbooks and various related publications, which have helped to spread the word and share examples of asset-based community development in action. The workbooks provide practical resources and tools for community builders to identify, nurture, and mobilize neighborhood assets.
Though the words "community" and "assets" now seem to be in every political speech and corporate report, the last decade has seen real community innovations and policy reforms at foundations, community organizations, local governments, schools and universities, faith-based communities, and service and health agencies. The new approaches have profoundly affected the ways in which public, private, and non-profit leaders now attack the development challenge.