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Asset: An item of value owned; a quality, condition, or entity that serves as an advantage,
support, resource, or source of strength
Mapping: To make a map of; to show or establish the features or details of, with clarity
like that of a map; to make a survey of, or travel over for, as if for the purpose of making
a map.

Part I
Complete the following tasks as you begin to explore asset
1. To build from what you do have requires asking different kinds of questions to learn
different kinds of things about where we live. We can create a map of our community
that tells us what and where its assets are: the positive, powerful people and things
that con- tribute ideas, resources, and capacities. This is the focus and goal of asset
o Focused on the immediate area around former middle school since Henrico
County is too large to do a true asset map
2. First we must learn to know our places. Where do we start? Is there any one thing that
instantly springs to mind when the name of your community is uttered? Tourism? An
annual festival? Can you map your community with whatever is special in the center?
Who and what comprise or are connected to this special center?
o There are many family-owned businesses in the area
o Big draw from the Richmond International Raceway
o Many parks and sports parks
3. You are now building a map of your community as a collection of assets, as a
positive, useful resource. At the center may be a main event, feature, or product. This
is the beginning of learning about our communities as places FULL of positive, useful
resources. What other resources could you list that did not appear on the map above?
o There are potential assets in the area, including unused farmland and an
industrial park nearby

4. How are people resources (owners of goods, knowledge, and skills)?

o Owners of business
o Church leaders

They could potentially be community partners
There are many community, church-related events

5. To elicit information on community assets in order to draw our maps, a first step
could be to develop a questionnaire that may be sent out to a broad range of
community res- idents or used in interviews. The questions should reflect the goals of
your own communitys work. John Kretzman and John McKnight have written a
book on how to learn about a communitys assets. According to them, a typical
questionnaire might cover:

Skills information, including skills people have learned at home, in the

community, or at the workplace. Usually people are asked to identify their
priority skills, those about which they are most confident.
Community skills information, aimed at uncovering precious community
experience and potential interests.
Enterprising interests and experience, aimed at uncovering past and present
business experience, culture, and arts skills.
Minimum personal information for follow-up purposes (Kretzman, 1997).

Using a questionnaire is also a great way to get to know and begin to develop
relationships with people. Briefly put together a questionnaire with 6-10 questions that
cover the information listed above. Provide answers to your own questions.
Exchange questions with a partner.

Question: Do you have children that attend one of the local schools in the area (elementary, middle, and/or
Answer: I have children (or know children) who attend these schools, and I would like to feel more
welcomed to be involved in the school culture and community.

Question: How are you already engaged in your community?

Answer: I am a part of my church community and I live and work in the immediate area.

Question: Do you have experience with business planning or running a business?

Answer: My family has owned and run a business on Azalea Avenue for generations.

Question: Do you have a financial background or connections to someone who does?

Answer: I have learned to run my own books for my business, and I could share those insights with others.

Question: Do you, or those you know, use the parks and/or recreational areas? If so, how?
Answer: My church hosts cook outs at the local park, and my children play sports at the recreational area
near the middle school.

Question: Many people in the area are deeply involved in the church events hosted throughout the weeks.
How could those events bridge with events at the local schools?
Answer: I think it would be good to invite the local church leaders to a brainstorming session at one of the
schools in order to find better ways for community involvement with the school community.


Lets begin to broaden our maps by including institutions, organizations, and

enterprises. First, list those that you are currently connected to (any office, club,
league, enterprise and so forth you are connected to). Then compare your map
with your neighbors. Build a comprehensive list of local organizations and
institutions, and look for overlap. To what institutions do more than one person
belong? What is their power base?
o Church
o Volunteer organizations
o Sports clubs and events


List three institutions from your pooled list and write down all the resources you
can think of contained within it.

1 Church people as resources, including leaders and volunteers; buildings to host events
2 Volunteer organizations people as resources; buildings to host events; community partnerships already established
3 Sports clubs and events sports/recreational areas to host events; leaders/parents/coaches to form partnerships
within the community


One institution that is found in almost every communityone that holds valuable
resources, knowledge, and assetsis one that is often overlooked.

The school is important, not just because it is a building bursting with possibilities. List a
few if you havent already:
o People as resources
o Lots of area (e.g., sports fields or gymnasium) to host community events
o Central location within the community (especially in the area I am focusing on)
Now list some handy materials found in schools:
o Experts in working with others (e.g., teachers!)
o Art supplies
o Gym equipment %







Community Mapping and Public Relations
Julie K. Marsh
College of William and Mary


Community Mapping and Public Relations

It is important for school leaders to know and understand the structure of their local
community in order to tap into the power of community outreach, build learning experiences
within the community and with community members, and develop partnerships with local
businesses in order to carry on the school mission and allow more learning opportunities for
students (M. Constantino, personal communication, May 20, 2015). Community outreach can
consist of working with volunteers and leaders from local churches or businesses in order to
engage both sides in the process of connecting to curriculum. Schools and communities can
share resources and benefit from each other, schools can benefit from financial support from the
surrounding community, and students can reap the benefits from having their curricula directly
tied to community assets in the form of internships and other learning opportunities (M.
Constantino, personal communication, May 20, 2015). In order to tap into these kinds of
opportunities, it is important to understand what community, or asset, mapping is as well as how
it ties to public relations and communication for schools.
Community Mapping
Community mapping focuses on promoting connections between individuals and
organizations within a given community (Michigan State University, 1999). Using assets,
instead of focusing on deficits, can help schools understand the opportunities offered in a
community, such as businesses and organizations, that can benefit a schools curriculum
(McKnight & Kretzmann, 1996). Public relations (PR) helps create understanding across
cultures within a community while maintaining equality and equity among members (Kent &
Taylor, 2011). PR can help communicate the needs of a school and the needs of a community.


PR requires research (Kent & Taylor, 2011), and community mapping is a form of research that
connects directly to PR.
Community Mapping and Public Relations
PR can stem from the act of community mapping. Once a school understands the power
of its local communitys people and resources, then it is time to convince community members to
develop partnerships with the school. PR can help influence community members and leaders to
want to work with the school. PR is a way for schools to be proactive and communicate their
needs. PR is a way to identify and develop a school plan and then deliver and reinforce the
message (M. Constantino, personal communication, May 20, 2015). PR is directly tied to school
Schools and community communication. Schools should identify their own goals and
objectives before reaching out to their community. Schools need to know their own needs before
involving other stakeholders. Once those needs are identified, then community mapping can
help pinpoint the assets within the community that can support school needs. This takes research
and perseverance. It also needs to happen over time; it is important for schools to understand
they should start small and grow from there as well as focus on the future and not just the
immediate problem (M. Constantino, personal communication, May 20, 2015).
Schools must also be careful to create two-way communication modes for both school
stakeholders and community members in order to allow both sides to take part in governance and
decision-making (M. Constantino, personal communication, May 18, 2015). Schools want to
feel their needs are being met while community stakeholders want to know their involvement is
making a difference. Both sides should benefit from a collaborative relationship.


Community mapping helps identify assets within a community that can benefit schools as
well as identifies potential partnerships between a school and community leaders. Developing
assets on both sides can lead to positive growth within a community, a feeling of connection
between all stakeholders, and an interdependence among and between people as resources,
groups, and the immediate economy (McKnight & Kretzmann, 1996). Community members and
school leaders can create a positive environment and develop unique relationships that are vital
for both sides.


Kent, M., & Taylor, M. (2011). Public relations in global cultural contexts: Multi-paradigmatic
perspectives. Journal of Intercultural Communication Research, 40(3), 259262.
M. Constantino, personal communication, May 18, 2015
M. Constantino, personal communication, May 20, 2015
McKnight, J. L., & Kretzmann, J. P. (1996). Mapping community capacity.
Michigan State University. (1999). Best practice briefs.