Community Assessment

A community assessment can help gain insight into a specific group of people, identify concerns, engage stakeholders, and develop effective solutions
A community assessment can be used to identify problems, service gaps, strengths and resources of a cultural group, an age group, a geographic community, or a group with shared experiences (such as recent immigrants, people experiencing homelessness, or parents who use child care). The information gained through the assessment can help build consensus around an issue, identify priority action areas, and guide intervention planning and implementation efforts.

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A successful community assessment is developed with input from multiple stakeholders, and is focused, thoughtfully planned, and carefully carried out. To ensure your group or organization conducts a useful and effective assessment, Wilder Research can help you through all or any of the five key assessment steps.

Five Steps of a Community Assessment

Convene Local Stakeholders
A community assessment should identify the needs, strengths, gaps, and resources of a community. Working with a diverse group of local stakeholders and partners can strengthen the planning process by bringing in new perspectives and additional information that may not otherwise be known.
Define the Community
After identifying the community of focus, it is important to  identify and actively involve key community stakeholders who understand the needs of residents and reflect the diversity of the population.
Develop a Shared "Assessment Language"
Community assessments can easily lose focus if their purpose is not clearly understood. All stakeholders should work together to discuss the purpose of the assessment, refine its scope, and define the concepts that will be explored.
Collect Data Using a Variety of Strategies
A number of data collection strategies can be used to gather information including focus groups, key informant interviews, reviews of secondary data, written/online surveys, observational assessments, reviews of policies, or community mapping. A multi-method approach, incorporating a variety of these quantitative and qualitative data collection strategies, will provide communities with a more comprehensive view of their community and lead to a clearer direction for implementation and planning.
Interpret the Data and Identify Next Steps
A multi-method approach provides the community with data from a variety of perspectives. However, to put the data from each source into context, it is essential to look at all data as a whole, consider its meaning, identify and address inconsistencies in the data, and establish priorities based on the assessment results. Stakeholder input is necessary to help interpret the data, and consider how to use the results.

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