Internships and Certification Processes include:


  • Community Connecting Internship: This is a leadership development opportunity for qualified individuals around the skills and activities associated with a community connecting role.  Those accepted into the internship are provided a certified mentor/guide, placed in an identified neighborhood via an organizational partner, and given hands-on supervision to ensure an appropriate level of experiential learning and skill development.


  • 12-Month Community Connector Certification: This is a formal certification process for those already doing some form of organizing/connecting work as residential or organizational stakeholders.  Those accepted into the program are provided an experienced mentor/guide, coached through the completion of a community connector guidebook, linked to a learning group, and evaluated on both written assignments and connecting activities.  A document of certification is given upon completion.


  • 18-Month Community Development Coach Certification: This is a formal vetting process for church and community leaders who are implementing ABCD strategies at the neighborhood level.  Those who participate in the process receive weekly mentoring from an experienced coach/trainer, participate in an ABCD-focused learning group, complete an approved set of learning activities, assume designated coach-leader responsibilities, and take part as leader or co-leader in ABCD training events.  A document of certification is given upon completion.

The Leadership Challenge


A clear opportunity exists for those who live, work, and worship

in urban communities.  They have the chance to exert greater

influence and participate more intentionally in improving the

social, physical, spiritual, economic, and political conditions

of their communities.


Great Lakes Urban envisions a growing number of trained

and experienced leaders in the region who consistently apply

the principles and practices of Asset Based Community

Development (ABCD)…and train others to do the same.  It

seeks to be a catalyst for increasing the number and capacity

of ABCD practitioners among residential and organizational

stakeholders.  This will be done primarily through the training,

coaching, and certification initiatives of the ABCD Academy.



The ABCD Academy


Training Events include:


  • ABCD Immersion: This is an intense, experiential introduction to ABCD principles and practices for organizational leaders, community stakeholders, and interested citizens.  A certificate of “initiation” is given upon completion.

  • Dignity Serves: This is an established curriculum that moves people from “to/for” thinking to “with” thinking in their relief, development, and ministry paradigms.  It is especially helpful for those looking to implement the insights from a couple of key resources: “When Helping Hurts” and “Toxic Charity”.

  • Topic Specific Seminars and Workshops: These are trainings adapted to fit particular organizational or community situations.  Learning areas include Appreciative Inquiry, Polarity Management, Action Planning, Results Based Management, Community Listening, Strategic Neighboring, Developing Future Scenarios, Missional Theology and Practice, and “Heroic” Leadership.



Coaching Strategies include:


  • Individual Coaching: This involves a monthly online or in-person meeting/conversation of 60-75 minutes.  It also includes preparation and follow-up time for each conversation.  The focus is on helping leaders identify, clarify, and meet life, career, and community development goals.


  • Pastor/Leader 360 Survey: This is a feedback tool to help pastors discern the nature and level of their missional influence.  It gives them opportunity to be affirmed in their leadership and to identify areas for growth/development.  The tool comes with 6-8 hours of follow-up coaching.


  • Church 360 Survey: This is a tool to initiate a process of congregational dialogue and leadership discernment around God’s mission in a particular place.  It gives participants an opportunity to think about shared mission, provide important feedback, and prepare for fresh expressions of mission.  The tool comes with 15-20 hours of follow-up coaching. 


  • Building Readiness for Enhanced Community Engagement: This is a comprehensive listening, discovery, and action planning process for churches and other nonprofit organizations.  The focus is on developing relational, creative, place-based forms of local mission.  It involves 12-15 months of work with leaders, teams, members, and community partners.


  • Building Capacity for Sustained Community Engagement: This is a comprehensive process for training leaders and deploying ministry teams to implement developmental strategies of community engagement.  It involves adjusting organizational systems to support and sustain asset-based strategies for shared life and local mission…and can take up to 18 months.


  • Building Neighborhood Partnerships: This involves creating associational-organizational collaboratives for neighborhood transformation.  It includes the participation of at least three local organizations and establishes a “community connecting” model (i.e. a signed charter by organizational leaders, a hired community organizer, and consistent patterns of listening, asset mapping, and neighbor-led projects).


  • Neighborhood Engagement Learning Group: This is an 18-month learning journey with 6-10 church and/or community leaders around “good neighboring” practices.  The first six months is devoted to establishing personal habits of neighborhood engagement, the next six months is devoted to training others in these habits, and the final six months is devoted to developing organizational systems that support and integrate “good neighboring” activities.