As a community coalition, a great deal of what Prevention WINS does is build capacity in NE Seattle to prevent youth drug abuse. For coalition purposes, "capacity building" is the planned development of knowledge, skills and capabilities of a community so that they may conduct and sustain a variety of prevention activities and create an environment that supports healthy youth development.
Recent entries on the Philanthropy NW Blog discuss the importance of capacity building. Following is an excerpt from one of the posts. While it is meant for leaders of foundations, it applies to all people who want to build a community's capacity to create positive change.
Ten “Rules of Thumb” for effective engagement in community capacity building
1. Engage for the long haul – there are no quick fixes – the big success stories out there are universally long-term endeavors
2. Make sure your community partners are those the community would choose
3. Get out of your silo – community issues are multi-dimensional and require solutions that cross traditional systems and topics
4. Understand and articulate your theory of change or framework
5. Focus your support on the community’s priorities – not theirs to yours
6. Contextualize training and support – the risk of pulling people out of the community context for training
7. Avoid scud TA – Never do for a community what they can do for themselves – invest in building their capacities rather than in importing expertise
8. Adapt don’t replicate
9. Don’t assume that grassroots communities can meet funder standards for management and accountability – be prepared to support and intentionally coach in these areas. (balance between paternalism and realism)
10. Remember that you are always the 800 lb. gorilla in the room!
For more detailed information about building capacity, download the Capacity Primer from the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America.