Help for community builders

On This Page

These resources have influenced or been a product of Ford Institute activities in partnership with rural residents. Questions? Email or call Ford Institute staff. In addition, feel free to crowdsource questions or share resources on the Rural Community Builders Facebook group.

4C Engagement tools

Connections, Capacity, Community-led Action and Community Building Culture — the 4Cs of rural community building — serve as intended outcomes of the Ford Institute’s work in communities. The Ford Institute. Use these resources individually or with your community building team. Some questions to ask to spark conversation could be:

What stands out in these documents?
Who else can I share this with?
What next steps does this inspire me to take?
Where would our community like to grow in the next year? Next two years?
Where do our perceptions of our community align? Where are they different?

Contact Max Gimbel for support engaging your group in these conversations.

Community Building in the time of COVID-19

LEarning and impact

Project Impact Overview: A self-directed evaluation of the impact of the Ford Institute for Community Building (2 pages. Aug. 2019)
Project Impact Full Report: A self-directed evaluation of the impact of the Ford Institute for Community Building (40 pages. Sept. 2019)

Investing in community building leveraged signficant dollars: Summary of dollars leveraged as a result of investments (2 pages. Jan. 2021)


Learning Exchanges are opportunities for individuals and groups in rural Oregon and Siskiyou County, Calif., to gather around a common issue or challenge. Usually, Learning Exchanges gather for two to three days, and sometimes they reconvene a year or so later. Purposes of a Learning Exchange:

  1. Increase learning and efficiencies for Learning Exchange participants
  2. Nurture relationships within and across groups
  3. Share the distilled learnings collected during the Learnings Exchanges to others outside the Learnings Exchanges

It is this third purpose that inspires us to provide some of the documents and learnings here.

Vision through Action Learning Exchange: Communities working on comprehensive, rural community visioning

Catalytic Community Building Organizations Learning Exchange: Organizations who seem to be using a community building approach in a catalytic way

Network Learning Exchange: Groups working on community networks

Digital Commons Learning Exchange:  Individuals considering how to use digital and online tools well to build community


Working teams consist of rural residents who help guide the work of the Ford Institute. Teams stay together for about six months through three in-person gatherings. Working Teams are part of the Ford Institute’s commitment to keep the community at the center of the work. See the document below for guidance on how to implement Working Teams in your community.


Resources that are perfect for starting or building a community building practice

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