2020 Cohort

Foundations of Community Building Certificate Program

Great communities thrive when you bridge the divide between institutions and residents.

A 9-month-long training series teaching institutional change agents and residents how to deploy strength-based community change together. 

5-part Training Series

group of people looking down at a community layout on paper

Each course is structured as an interactive workshop, where participants will learn effective frameworks and methods of community engagement, addressing common challenges, and leveraging the strengths of people and communities to move forward. Each institution is encouraged to recruit a cohort of participants that includes both professionals working at community engagement and residents of the neighborhoods with whom they partner. Each session offers the platform and resources for organizations and residents to individualize the session to meet their needs and work as a group. Content will address pressing issues facing greater University Circle, such as racial equity and inclusion, in order to enable participants to think deeper about responses to these challenges.


Workshop length: Evening reception followed by a 1 day kickoff retreat

Learn how to use the power of community organizing as a change agent right where you are. This workshop will focus on how to take an idea or goal and move it forward in your group, organization, or community. Engage others and build power to gain traction for making a difference even if you are not in a position of formal leadership. Learn how to support other change agents who are actively working to affect change.

  • Evening Kick-off Reception: January 22, 2020
  • Full-Day Workshop: January 23, 2020

Workshop length: 2 days

Communities across the world have been transformed through Asset Based Community Development (ABCD), a strength-based approach to change. ABCD builds community from the inside out as residents become producers rather than needy people seeking services. Learn the power of asset mapping, a fundamental tool that discovers the gifts of individuals, the power of networks and associations, and local organizations that are then leveraged to create change. ABCD is at the center of a large and growing movement that considers local assets as the primary building blocks of sustainable community development.

  • February 27-28, 2020

Workshop length: 3 days

Appreciative Inquiry departs from traditional problem solving by discovering the strengths of an organization or community and creating and implementing a vision for the future. Learn how AI can be used in three ways: (1) As a way of living your life or being in the world; (2) As a positive approach to working with change in families, groups, organizations, communities; and (3) As a five-phase process of learning and change. In this AI Foundations course, come learn how to develop an appreciative interview, become familiar with the 5-D process and experience this positive change tool as you apply it to your own organization or community.

  • April 1-3, 2020

Workshop length: 2 days

This workshop prepares community change agents to lead effective conversations. Participants will learn how to prepare to facilitate a conversation, set their meeting up for success, overcome difficult challenges, and facilitate as part of a team. Best practices to structured conversations will be taught, such as sustained dialogue, World Café, Open Space Technology, etc. Participants will receive Facilitating Community Conversations, an extensive resource manual with tips and tools for addressing the most difficult facilitation challenges.

  • April 30-May 1, 2020

Workshop length: 2 days

In this interactive workshop, participants will learn frameworks for assessing real-world conflict situations and practices for leading a creative response to conflict. Participants will learn how to leverage conflict so that it can bring out the best in everyone and take the group to a new level. This participatory session will draw on the fields of conflict resolution and Appreciative Inquiry, blending successful practices from both fields to prepare participants to take immediate positive action to prevent or reduce frustration, promote a culture of cooperation, and maximize the creative potential of the organization.

  • September 24-25, 2020

Peer-to-Peer Action Circles

Monthly cohort action circles keep learning active, engaging, and real. Bring your community building challenges and build bridges together.


Upon completion of the program, residents have the opportunity to become scholars-in-residence at Case Western Reserve University, offering their neighborhood expertise and stories as community ambassadors.

Three people sitting in chairs talking

Who Can Participate?

One-half of the cohort consists of people who work at University Circle institutions while the other half consists of residents and Community Based Organizations from surrounding neighborhoods.

How Much Does it Cost?


There is no cost for residents. Tuition is paid by the institutions and residents receive a $2,000 stipend for participating in the full program.

University Circle Institutions

  • For Profit and Large Nonprofit: $8,000
  • Small or Medium Nonprofit: $6,000
  • Community Based Organization: $4,000

Scholarships available for Community Based Organizations and Nonprofits.

Discounts available for institutions with 3 or more participants.

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