Identifying Community Issues and Assets


  • To identify key issues and assets in the community


  • Butcher paper/flip chart paper
  • Tape
  • Markers
  • Paper
  • Pens or pencils
  • Clipboards

Prepare Before

Prepare butcher paper by creating two columns labeled with the name of your school/organization and your neighborhood/city/town on top.

Warm Up

Have students share a community of which they are a part.



STEP 1: Divide participants into small groups and give each group a piece of paper and pens. Have them create two columns on the paper, and label the columns with the name of your school/organization and the neighborhood/city/town. Have adult staff and leaders do the activity as well.

STEP 2: Ask participants to brainstorm as many problems they can that exist in these places. Encourage students to think about what really bugs them, or if they could change something, what would they change?

STEP 3: After brainstorming, come back to the full group and record all of the issues on chart paper. Compare participants’ responses and recall the importance of different perspectives in understanding their community.


Remind the group about the concept of assets: positive things or strengths. An asset can be a skill, a quality, or a resource (e.g., money, a building, a program). Ask participants for examples.

STEP 1: In the same small groups, have participants turn their paper over and label the same columns: school/organization and neighborhood/city/town. Under each heading, have participants write assets (e.g., people, places, programs) that are supportive and important for them and for youth in general and that make their community a better place to live.

STEP 2: Share back as a full group. Invite the participants to share their lists of assets and to write them all up on a chart paper above or next to the chart of problems or issues.


Give each youth a piece of paper and ask them to take a few minutes to:

  • Choose one issue from the list and write down why this particular issue bothers them.
  • Choose one asset from the list and write down why they think this asset is particularly important.

Ask them to recall experiences that may cause them to feel this way.

Have participants share their thinking with a partner. Have participants then share some of the things they said or heard in their pair. Allow time for sharing and questioning from others. Is there agreement on the issue that is most important?


Discuss how identifying problems and strengths can help us find our research question and project.


Have each participant name something about their school/organization that they particularly like or appreciate.