In 2014 The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation launched its “Investing in Our Communities — West Side of Charleston” place-based initiative, which aims to strategically concentrate funds and other assets in the area surrounding Mary C. Snow Elementary School. To directly engage community residents, the foundation commissioned the Kanawha Institute for Social Research & Action Inc. to conduct a community-needs assessment.

The assessment was conducted between July and December 2015 and included a review of secondary data, a door-to-door survey of 241 residents and focus group discussions. The foundation seeks to invest in health, housing and civic engagement programs in this particular footprint, so these areas were the assessment’s focus.

The community-needs assessment was an effective strategy. Those within and outside the community more fully understand the area’s needs, why they exist and the importance of addressing them.

Residents had the opportunity to share how the needs impact the quality of life for the larger community. Local engagement increased because residents were included in discussions about needs, assets, and the community’s response.

The community’s strengths and weaknesses were identified, so community-based organizations may alter or enhance their service delivery. Perhaps most importantly, data now exists to inform decisions and actions that will better address community needs and more effectively guide resource allocation.

– See more at: WV Gazette