ABCD Approach for Education

All learners deserve and need the broad-based support of individuals and communities coming together and taking action to impact learning. The capacity building elements of successful community mobilization are increasingly relevant as we seek ways for communities to become fully engaged in education. The ABCD framework guides educators to:

  • focus on developing the often untapped assets and strengths inherent among schools, families and the greater community that can contribute to building a learning community.
  • align our efforts with asset-based principles reflected in educational goals related to democratization, citizenship, and human rights
. As individual’s capacity increases, so too does their opportunity to participate fully as a citizen in the community, thereby impacting the overall capacity of the community to engage in their own development.
  • offer a pathway for school communities to effectively contribute to the overall development of the communities to which they belong.
  • provide educators with a framework to respond to the increasing complexities of multi­stakeholder interests in education.


life in your hands

Key to the foundation of Café’s work is the relationship between learning and education at the individual and community level. The learning capacity of both individuals and communities to facilitate and direct their own development to meet desired goals is critical for sustainable social change.  The attached diagram, Building Learning Capacity Through an ABCD Lens depicts the individual learner through an asset -based lens taking steps to build their own learning capacity and being positioned to then contribute to the community building steps articulated by McKnight and Kretzmann. At the same time communities that take charge of their own development offer more opportunities for individual learning to take place, resulting in a virtuous cycle. 


Suggested Reading – ABCD approach for education 

John P. Kretzmann, Community-Based Developments and Local Schools: A promising partnership,  The Asset-Based Community Development Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University.

Sutherland, D., Sokal, L. (2003) Resiliency and capacity building in inner-city learning communities, Portage and Main Press, Winnipeg.

further reading ABCD and Education (pdf)