Products 1: Long-Term Community Goals

Welcome back to the Planning Blog! It has been a little while since we last posted. Do you remember all of the great information on the planning process that we covered? If not, feel free to go back and review our previous blog posts listed below.

Right now, though, how about a quick refresher to review the processes you can use to involve the community in project development?

We started with the creation of a “steering committee” composed of community members, community leaders, staff and (after the project focus was clearly established) project partner organizations and project beneficiaries. This steering committee helps you coordinate project planning by having committee members gain input and recommendations on project design from their community constituents and sharing information with their constituents on proposed project design elements.

Then we explored community surveys to get ideas about issues the community wants to see addressed. Finally, we introduced the use of focus groups and key informant interviews to define the project direction and scope.  The desired result of this community-based planning process is to identify what the community wants to accomplish.

Now let’s find out how to use the information received from the community to craft a project that will achieve it! To do this, use your steering committee! They will continue to be a useful instrument for engaging the community in carrying out the project design process. That process includes:

  • Determining the long-term goal that the community aims to achieve through the project
  • Identifying community conditions that are barriers to long‐term community goal achievement
  • Defining the capacity of the community, your organization, and potential partners to implement a project
  • Assessing the assets that you have which could be used to carry out a project
  • Describing an improved condition, or the project goal, that the project will create
  • Designing measurable outcomes, created by project objectives, that will accomplish the project goal
  • Determining the level of resources or funding necessary to implement the project

In this post, we’ll focus on Long-Term Community Goals.

Long‐Term Community Goals are created by community members through formal and informal processes. Communities create long-term goals in a variety of specific areas, or “dimensions”, such as:

household income

education

family functioning

transportation

employment

housing

childcare

health

basic needs

community involvement/ social capital

substance abuse

Long-term goals describe an ideal condition that the community wants to achieve in a specific area. An example of a community’s long-term goal in the area of “income” might be “All community members’ household incomes will be at or above the median income for our region.” A “family” long-term goal might be “Families in our community will have strong, positive relations and effective problem-solving skills.” A “housing” long-term goal could be “All community members will live in decent, affordable housing”.

If we use long-term goals selected by the community as the foundation for projects, we will be helping the community moved toward the ideal conditions that they want to exist. As a result, you may see an increase in community involvement in project development and an increase in community participation in project participation because community members believe they are helping to reach social or economic goals that are important to themselves.

Long-term goals often come from a Comprehensive Plan development process.

Comprehensive planning involves completing a community‐wide assessment to engage the community in imagining, articulating and prioritizing a set of long‐term goals in specific areas, like those listed above. Comprehensive plans are long‐term, covering a five‐ to ten‐year time span. Community members often create benchmarks as part of the plan to use in assessing progress in reaching each long-term goal.

If your tribe or organization does not have a comprehensive plan, there are alternative ways of engaging the community in long-term goal setting. Use the planning processes we explored earlier. Community surveys and focus groups can be used to create long-term goals. Steering committee members can reach out to their constituents and get information that can be used in long-term goal development. Begin your project design process by selecting a long-term goal that was created through a community planning process.

Homework

  1. Describes how your community was involved or will be involved in developing the long‐term goal that your project will focus on.
  2. Describe your documentation of that involvement. Documentation could include:
    1. Minutes and/or sign‐in sheets from Tribal Council, Board meeting or public hearings;
    2. Current community meeting minutes and/or sign‐in sheets;
    3. Minutes of past general council meetings or community meetings that document the community’s perception of long‐term goals;
    4. Steering committee, focus group and key informant records on long-term community goals.
  3. Explain why this long-term goal will be the project’s focus. Why did the community prioritize this long-term goal for use in project development?
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