In contrast to traditionally deficit-based ways of understanding a community, this Community Needs Assessment (CNA) Toolkit is intended to guide community leaders through a process that considers community strengths and assets as essential foundations from which any change should take root. The creation of a CNA will allow community leaders to articulate their community’s needs as well as establish a clear community vision for climate resilience and social equity, identify specific strategies to build capacity towards this vision, and advance potential projects, programs, and partnerships.
The CNA development process is designed to support community leaders in identifying actionable strategies to advance their community’s vision and build longer-term capacity to continue leading transformational change. The guidance and resources included in the CNA Toolkit is supplemented by additional presentations and resources developed through the PACE program.
The CNA Toolkit includes 10 key components, each of which includes a set of guided prompts, tips, resources, and templates to assist community leaders in developing a CNA. The order of CNA components follows the Partners Advancing Climate Equity (PACE) program’s structure, which follows the VAST design process: Vision, Assessment, Strategy, and Timeline. While each component in this toolkit is assigned to a VAST module, the overall CNA development process is intended to be iterative. Additionally, although the CNA development process can be completed independently, collaborating with partners, stakeholders, and community members can result in a more comprehensive CNA and begin to create the foundation necessary for collective action. While each component is assigned to a specific VAST module, the overall CNA development process is intended to be iterative.