Added September 20, 2018
Grounded in the Asset-Based Community Development framework that stipulates that people and organizations can be utilized as resources, community asset mapping is a tool that school counselors may use to locate resources to meet the needs of families, schools, and communities. This article provides insight into using community asset mapping to locate and secure resources, which can then be leveraged to build school-family-community partnerships. As a way to demonstrate how partnerships are built, this article also details the development and implementation of a college and career readiness program for Latinx students attending a rural high school that had low school attendance and low graduation rates for Latinx students. Building partnerships at the school and community level was a key principle underlying this program; the goals of the program included providing resources and information to students and their families around academic achievement, college readiness, and addressing the cultural identity of the students.
Through community asset mapping, a number of new partnerships were developed and created to aid in program success: out of 17 organizational contacts (i.e., churches and civic organizations), six partnerships were created; out of 12 possible institutional contacts (i.e., universities and community colleges, social services), 11 partnerships were formed; out of 21 individuals contacted, 12 partnerships were established; and out of 24 local resources contacted, 13 partnerships were developed. It is important to note that these were 42 new partnerships created for the purposes of the program. Some outcomes of these new partnerships included $250 donated from the school and local businesses/churches; free dinner for each meeting donated from local restaurants; detailed information regarding paying for college; and a fully funded field trip to a local university. In addition, parents received free English language classes and community experts agreed to be guest speakers on pressing issues related to the Latinx community, such as immigration issues and ethnic identity. Finally, retail stores donated raffle items, which were used to promote weekly attendance by the students and their parents. Not only did the use of community asset mapping prove to be a successful undertaking in the creation of the college and career readiness program, the program was also effective in other ways, primarily in increasing pride in one’s ethnic identity, in teaching Latinx students about their options for college after graduation, and in parent empowerment.
School counselors can incorporate a four-step community asset mapping approach into their own work. While using community asset mapping can be overwhelming, it helps to have multiple people involved, which is why the first step is to develop a multidisciplinary team. The next step is to have the team examine and assess a current list of identified resources and identify new resources that may be beneficial to the school population. After identifying the resources, the team should contact the resources to ascertain if they are willing to develop partnerships, and in what ways. The final step is to develop a community resource guide and map the assets. This step is advantageous as school stakeholders will have a detailed listing and visual map of all the resources available to the school, which could be continually updated as new partnerships are developed.
In the case of college and career readiness, it is often the most oppressed populations, low-income students and students of color, that do not receive what they need to make informed decisions about their futures. The use of community asset mapping positions school counselors to tap into resources that are already readily available, limiting the need for reliance on financial assistance from the school, as they meet the needs of their student population(s).
Elisabeth Arriero, Dana Griffin, PhD
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