What Is a Community Action Plan?

A community action plan is a formal comprehensive plan that aims to promote the interests, development or advancement of members in a community. It is an action plan that is based on the grassroots or community level.  

According to an online article by Stan Garfield, Richard Millington notes that there are five different types of communities. He defines these five communities based on interest, action, place, practice, and circumstance. Communities can come together when individuals have similar likes and interests. Other people form communities because they share a common goal in trying to effect change and action. Individuals can also build communities based on where they reside, study, or work. Communities may also come together because people share the same traditions and culture. And lastly, a community may form purely due to circumstance or some external event outside of one’s control.  

Components of a Community

A community can be likened to a body or a system that comprises many parts. A community needs these parts in order to function. The following examples describe some of the key components that can be found in any traditional community. 

School. Across all communities, regardless of culture, schools or educational institutions are a pillar of any civilized society. A community needs a learning center or space where children and other members of the community can pick up skills, gain knowledge and expand their worldview. Schools are essentially training hubs where students learn and grow to become productive members of the community and contribute to its development as well. Schools take care of the educational and formational aspect of the community. It is, therefore, the important responsibility of educators and school administrators to teach and impart not only basic knowledge, but essential values to their students as well. Church. If schools pertain to the educational aspect of a community, churches address the religious and spiritual needs of the community. Even in an increasingly secular age, the church still holds much influence and power across many nations and societies. Mankind’s long history with religion and the practice and tradition of spirituality are proof enough that the church is still a primary force in the community. Religious leaders and faith-based organizations cater to millions of people around the world. And no matter what religion you subscribe to, people seek faith and spirituality for all types of reasons- whether it is to obtain salvation and peace or even to satisfy the need for belonging and a sense of community. Marketplace. Another key aspect of a community is the market. This can pertain to both the literal marketplace where there is dynamic economic activity taking place; or to ‘markets’ in a figurative and theoretical sense (e.g., stock market). Trade and commerce have always been a key part of humanity’s history. The quest for economic security, growth and progress have defined much of the world’s capitalist systems. But going back to the community, traditional societies have always had a marketplace not merely as a space for the buying and selling of goods, but a public place where people can congregate and interact. If churches are the physical manifestation of a community’s religious needs, the marketplace (or even the mall) can be considered the physical manifestation of a community’s economic and commercial necessities. Government. Another key component found in all societies is government or state. Every modern society needs a sense of structure and organized leadership. Government’s role is far-reaching and complex, but in the most general sense, the state’s mandate is to provide services and promote the interests and protection of its constituents. On a community level, local government units are usually tasked to oversee the needs and interests of the members. Some examples of local leaders in the community are mayors, vice mayors, governors, council members, and courtroom judges. These leaders are tasked to exercise various functions including executive, legislative and even judicial duties.

Tips to Promote Community Building

There can be a number of ways to positively promote the community and its development. The community should be a space where individuals can rely on for growth and support. The following examples are just some simple yet powerful tips on how people can promote the community in a mutually beneficial way.  

Make health a priority. One of the most basic needs in any society is safety and health. A health community cannot be possible without healthy members to run it and benefit from it. Thus, it is crucial for any community to make health a top priority in their agenda. There needs to be programs and initiatives that promote the health, safety and security of members in the community. Whether it is improving the delivery of basic health services or ensuring public health measures are properly implemented, there are dozens of ways to promote healthy practices and policies in the community. Community leaders are tasked to see that the appropriate laws and ordinances are in place that safeguard the collective health of the community. Empower the vulnerable. A community is only as strong as its poorest and least members. It is vital for a community to promote inclusivity and fairness whenever and however they can. If some people are left out or marginalized from the rest, then a true sense of community cannot be realized. It is the responsibility of community leaders and decision-makers to be able to provide opportunities for the least fortunate. These include the homeless, unemployed, abused, neglected, etc. Only by helping and empowering the last and the least can a community reach greater heights and transcend itself. A real and thriving community puts the needs of the people first, prioritizes the common good, and offers support for those in need. Respect each other’s differences. Living alongside people does not always come easy. It is the necessary trade off of being part of a community. In order to promote peace and solidarity, it is important to respect each member of the community despite any differences or disagreements that may arise. There will always be differences in opinion and there may even be hostility between some members. But it is critical not to let that get in the way of promoting a peaceful, secure and harmonious community. Community members must learn how to address and settle their differences in a civilized and respectful way. Dialogue and de-escalation are useful tools that can help achieve this.

How to Create a Community Action Plan

To create a comprehensive community action plan, you need to have a firm understanding of its needs and interests. And if it is convenience you are looking for, using a sample template can save you a lot of time and energy. Select an action plan template from the selection above and follow these basic steps:

Step 1: Community Profile and Background

The first step is creating a community profile or providing some context about the target community. This section is essentially an introduction that should enable the reader to understand the current state of the community. It is important to offer a concrete and descriptive background of the community- its people, history, and even its future goals. Paint a picture of the community as it is, even if that means including some of the negative or areas that need improvement. The general purpose of a community action plan is precisely to address these areas of concern and uplift the state of the community.     

Step 2: Proposed Plans

The meat of your community action plan should obviously be your proposed plans and strategies. The content of these plans would greatly depend on the objectives, of course. An action plan should be able to directly address its goals or objectives. But whatever next steps and action items are outlined, make sure these are concrete and specific. You also want your strategies and action plans to be attainable and grounded in reality. Proposed plans will only be maximized if there is an adequate assessment of needs or if there is a deep understanding of what the community truly needs.   

Step 3: Resources

Once you have laid out the action plans, the next step is determining what resources are available to you. This section should also adequately assess what resources are needed in order to implement the community action plan. A community needs to sustain its members and offer different types of services. And it will not be able to provide this without the necessary resources. You need to identify not just the community’s needs, but also its assets, wealth and supplies. There must be a detailed accounting of all these factors in order to come up with more comprehensive and targeted action steps.  

Step 4: Timeline 

The last step is proposing a timeline of activities. This section should be able to lay out the proposed time frame wherein to implement your community action plan. You can also include the planning, preparation and post-implementation phases as well. What matters is that you are able to set clear target dates or deadlines to accomplish your community objectives. The format of your timeline will depend on you as well. You can use a simple table or even a Gantt chart if you prefer. There can be various ways to present a working timeline. You can refer to the many sample timelines available for download as well.     

FAQs

How do you create a community action plan?

To create a community action plan, you need to have clearly defined objectives, strategies, concrete plans, a realistic timeline and a sufficient assessment of the community’s resources. You can refer to the detailed instructions in the previous section to learn how to create a community action plan.

What are the 6 elements of a community action plan?

According to an online article by Feverbee, there are six crucial elements of a community action plan or strategic plan. These are goals, objectives, strategies, tactics, plans and improvement.

What is an example of community action?

Concrete examples of community action include relief operations for displaced workers, programs to help the homeless, educational augmentation projects, community service initiatives, neighborhood watchdog programs, etc.

A community action plan should be comprehensive, specific, and concrete. It should also always be service-oriented and must have the common good at the core of its plan. But if you are short on time and need a reliable template, you can easily download a free and editable sample action plan. Using a ready-made template will save you much time and effort! Browse the wide selection of sample template plans above to get started on your own community action plan today!