Resource Highlight: Community Tool Box

Since 1994, the Center for Community Health and Development at the University of Kansas has been compiling the best practices in community engagement to create a massive, user-friendly online database called the Community Tool Box (CTB). This tool box aims to provide individuals and organizations with the resources needed to create positive change within their communities. It’s made up of 46 chapters totalling over a thousand pages, complete with supplementary toolkits and online courses. All of these resources are available online for free.

Why We Like It

Community residents know what is best for their community. They know the problems and their context. This knowledge is necessary for determining the most equitable way forward. The Community Tool Box is designed to be used by community-based organizations and individuals themselves to address a wide variety of problems. Also, this tool box can be used at any stage of advocacy. And finally, it is accessible. Versions of the CTB are available in English, Spanish, Arabic, and Farsi. As of 2018, people have used this resource in more than 230 countries.

The Nuts and Bolts

The framework which underlies the CTB is made up of five components: assess, plan, act, evaluate, sustain. The logic behind this model is that in order to solve a problem, you need to assess the situation, create a plan based on that information, enact your plan, evaluate the results to see if the plan worked, and sustain the parts of this process which yielded positive results. Each resource within the CTB falls into one of these five steps.

Examining the 16 toolkits within the Community Toolbox provides a closer look at the type of content that lies within this resource. The toolkit themes are:

  1. Creating and Maintaining Partnerships
  2. Assessing Community Needs and Resources
  3. Analyzing Problems and Goals
  4. Developing a Framework or Model of Change
  5. Developing Strategic and Action Plans
  6. Building Leadership
  7. Developing an Intervention
  8. Increasing Participation and Membership
  9. Enhancing Cultural Competence
  10. Advocating for Change
  11. Influencing Policy Development
  12. Evaluating the Initiative
  13. Implementing Social Marketing
  14. Applying for Grants
  15. Improving Organizational Management and Development
  16. Sustaining the Work or Initiative

Each of the toolkits listed above provides step-by-step instructions of the given topic area as well as links to the relevant Tool Box chapters. As the topic areas illuminate, the Community Tool Box is designed to assist community members to make informed, positive advocacy decisions.

(The creation and maintenance of the Community Tool Box has been funded by Kansas Health Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, KU Center for Community Health and Development, and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation)