Current approaches to community needs assessments should reflect the changing nature of communities themselves and new thinking relative to their assessment. First, geographically bounded communities, neighborhoods, cities, and regions have been affected by the external forces of economic globalization with its transnational flow of capital, outsourcing of jobs, and shifting demographics of immigration and refugee resettlement. Second, as Kretzmann and McKnight made clear in 1993, assessing only needs is not enough; it results in an incomplete picture of a community. An assessment should also be conducted through the lens of strengths so that community residents can articulate what they perceive the assets to be and how they propose to use the assets to shore up the deficits. Third, local, national, and international community building endeavors by nonprofit organizations have introduced the concept of assets-building into the community practice domain. The purpose is to increase the social capital and social capacity of communities in the long term through the empowerment of local residents via improved schools and effective community-level social networks and institutions.
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