What is Community Development?
Community development is the process of a community strengthening itself and developing towards its full potential.
• It strengthens interaction between, communication among, and collective mobilization of community members.
• It establishes relationships and networks between diverse community members.
• It seeks to empower individuals and groups of people by providing them with the skills, resources and technical assistance they need to effect change in their own communities.
Community development is a broad term applied to the practices and disciplines of civic leaders, activists, involved citizens and professionals to improve various aspects of local community life.
What is the Community Development Model?
The Community Development Model is a two-dimensional visual representation of a four-dimensional process for improving West Virginia’s communities by developing their social, leadership, organizational and community capacity through training programs, technical assistance, coaching, and access to resources.
What is the WV Community Development Network?
The WV Community Development Network consists of the agencies, organizations, businesses, communities and individuals who are stakeholders in community development in West Virginia. They include those who fund community development, provide training and services, operate programs to enhance community development, or simply care about improving West Virginia’s communities. The Network is not an organization, nor does it have staff. It is a group of stakeholders connected by their shared interest in improving communities and the quality of life in them.
What are “Niche Networks?
Niche networks are networks of service providers and practitioners within a specific arena of community development, such as local food systems, community-based tourism development, community sustainability, non-profit capacity building, etc. The Hub believes that by helping service providers communicate, cooperate and collaborate, West Virginia’s communities and organizations will see their community development efforts become more effective and efficient by reducing redundancies and identifying and filling service gaps.
What is the Community Development HUB?
The Community Development Hub is a non-profit 501(c)3 corporation responsible for promoting, supporting and assisting in the process illustrated in the Model by connecting communities and organizations with the community development stakeholders in the Network.
The Hub has four core goals:
— Catalyze community development in West Virginia.
— Act as a liaison to strengthen relationships among community development stakeholders.
— Build community development capacity.
— Develop increased resources for community development efforts, and more effectively connect communities to those resources.
These connections could take the form of process coordination, providing information, identifying resources, referral to service providers or a combination of these. The Hub is governed by a Board of Directors and has professional staff.
What is the relationship between the Model, Network and HUB?
The Hub links communities to services, resources and information available through the Network. The Hub advocates for the use of the Model by communities, and helps guide communities through the process the Model illustrates. The Hub works to expand the Network to include all stakeholders who would help communities improve, and provides evaluation of the Network, the provision of services and the effectiveness of the Model, as advised by members of the Network.
The Hub’s role in the West Virginia Community Development Network is:
• As a member. As a community development organization, the Hub seeks to give value to and receive value from the Network.
• As a convener and connector. The Hub serves the function of convening the Network and connecting Network members to one another.
• As a provider of support. The Hub supports the Network as it grows and provides logistical support to the Network and the niche networks in their community development efforts.
Who created the Model?
The Model was developed over the period of several years by a group of community development stakeholders known as the Community Development Gathering. The Gathering began by assessing the current challenging conditions many West Virginia communities face, and by identifying the conditions community members desired to see in our communities. The Gathering participants then asked why, in light of the decades of work by numerous organizations and agencies and the significant investment made in community development by numerous funders, haven’t we made more progress in improving our quality of life?
The answer they arrived at is complex, but at its most basic, it was determined that 1) West Virginia and its communities lacked a comprehensive, integrated, consistent and coordinated process for community development; and 2) too many communities lack the capacity to make effective use of the resources they receive. These realizations led to the development of the Model.
How was the HUB created?
With the Model developed, other questions arose. How do we coordinate connection of the components of the Model to our communities? Who will be responsible for promoting, assessing and evaluating the Model? Who will coordinate access to and delivery of the various community development tools around the state?
It became apparent there was a need for a single entity to serve these functions. Two of the stakeholder organizations, Community Collaborative, Inc. (CCI), and Community Development Partnership of West Virginia (CDP), saw an opportunity to enhance their individual missions and fulfill this need by consolidating into one organization. That process, which also merged the Boards of Directors of the two organizations, was completed in August 2008 and the West Virginia Community Development Hub was born.
What does the HUBdo?
The Hub is a connector between communities and the programs, training, technical assistance, coaching, assessment and evaluation that communities need to improve their quality of life. The Hub avoids being a direct provider of the above, but rather is a guide through the process outlined in the Model, connecting communities at each step with the help they need to be successful. The various providers of the programs, training, technical assistance etc. are members of the Network. The Hub, as a result, is also the connector between the various stakeholders in the Network and helps facilitates communication among those organizations, businesses, and individuals. The Hub’s Board of Directors is drawn from the Network.
The Hub also collects information and resources relevant to community development and makes those resources and that information available to West Virginia’s communities and the Network. In addition, the Hub maintains data on the status of participating communities as they work their way through the Model toward improvement.
Does the HUB staff provide training?
The Hub staff avoids providing direct training, coaching, technical assistance or service delivery to communities or organizations, relying instead on the Network of providers already in place. It is, however, a connector between communities and that assistance, and can act as a process coordinator as communities work through the Model.
The Hub staff, in collaboration with the Network, may identify gaps in service provision, and if a suitable provider is not found, may act as an incubator for the needed service. The Hub may also provide logistical support for capacity building programs, such as Standards For Excellence and HubCAP (the Hub’s Communities of Achievement Program).
What is a “coach”?
A coach can take many forms in community development, but in general, a coach is a trained and experienced professional who works directly with communities to build capacity in a given area of need. The coach helps the community achieve its locally-driven goals, address locally-identified challenges, and take advantage of locally-desired opportunities. Coaching has been shown to be particularly effective when used in conjunction with other capacity-building activities such as workshops and training, and provides a useful tool for the application of learning and the implementation of planning.
The Hub may help communities identify the appropriate coaches to assist them.
Does the HUB have a presence on the Internet?
The Hub’s website is www.wvhub.org. The Hub’s website has a wealth of information about community development and the Hub’s work, and will soon feature a number of community development toolkits. The website also includes sections dedicated to the West Virginia Sustainable Communities program and the WV Food & Farm Coalition. In addition, there are links to other Hub initiatives and partnerships, and an extensive listing of WV community development news, opportunities, and events.
The Hub also uses several digital communications tools through Constant Contact, including the Hubbub, its digital newsletter.
What is the “Standards For Excellence” (SFX)?
Standards For Excellence (SFX) is a national training and certification program for non-profit organizations, designed to assure their effectiveness, transparency, accountability and sustainability. The Community Development Partnership was the West Virginia licensee for Standards For Excellence. As part of the merger, the Standards For Excellence license was transferred to the WV Community Development Hub.
What effect will the Model have on West Virginia’s communities?
Successful integration of the Model into West Virginia’s community development efforts will provide communities with greater access to information, training, technical assistance, coaching, programs and services. This will help communities develop locally-driven vision and strategies for improving their quality of life, and will connect them to the tools and support they need to successfully implement locally-developed projects to enhance their community and the economy.