Community Engagement

Office of Advising & Field Education Department
Preparation for the Profession (P4P)
Community Engagement Worksheet
Community Engagement Assignment
This exercise seeks to develop your awareness and appreciation of the communities where social
workers practice. It requires you to critically consider communities through the lens of the
richness and diversity of communities as well as the needs and challenges facing communities.
This exercise is also a valuable reminder that, as professional social workers, we are active
participant-members of communities and not “neutral observers.”
Section A: Identify a neighborhood
For this assignment, you will need to select a neighborhood to research, explore, and
reflect upon. Preferably, you will select the neighborhood and area surrounding where
your practicum is located. If this is not feasible (e.g. you have an online placement, are
placed at an organization where service recipients do not live, or do not yet know where
you are placed), you may select an alternative neighborhood.
Section B: Research
Community Resources
Using google maps (or another mapping tool), identify key components of the
community, including but not limited to: public transportation, government buildings,
parks, schools, hospitals, social welfare/nonprofit agencies, housing, restaurants, stores,
Demographic Data
Go online and research the demographics of the area where your community
engagement will take place. What is the population? Racial make-up? U.S. born?
Language spoken at home? Educational levels? Average income? What sites did you use
to obtain the information? And why?
Media Portrayal
Search for articles about the community where this assignment will take place in at least
two different local news outlets. What is the tone of these reports? What is the range of
subjects? Is there any one subject that seems more prominent or frequent? How do you
think media portrayals of the community influence the perceptions and beliefs about this
Identify a Community Event
Search for upcoming local community events that are open to the public that you would
be able to attend. Examples may be a town hall, Community Board meeting, Community
Education Council meeting, City Council meeting, community fair, or other community
event. If you are having challenges identifying an event in the area you have selected,
Office of Advising & Field Education Department
Preparation for the Profession (P4P)
Community Engagement Worksheet
please confer with your Advisor. If you plan to attend something very specific (e.g. a town
hall regarding zoning, a new policy, etc.) it may be helpful to briefly research the issue.
Section C: Engagement
● Attend one of the events identified in the previous step.
● Prior to or after the event, walk/drive around the community in any direction that
you choose for 30 minutes.
● Avoid taking pictures and notes, please keep good mental notes of what you
observe around you.
● Observe and reflect on the questions in Section C (please be careful while doing
this exercise if driving)
Section D: Reflection after the Engagement
Think about your impressions from the event and walk/drive as you reflect on the
following questions. You may first want to use a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses,
opportunities, threats) analysis as you process the community as a participant or a
visitor. Then, you might want to switch to a more participatory community mapping
perspective to look closely at the community’s assets and capacities. You can also
include human talents/skills development and the social/emotional, spiritual, cultural,
information/communication, physical, environmental, and political domains.
What did you observe?

  1. What resources did you use to get to the neighborhood?
  2. What resources did you use to identify an event to attend? Why did you choose
    this event?
  3. Who do you think lives/works in the community? Why?
  4. Who and what did you see on the community walk/drive?
  5. What was the tone of the event that you attended?
  6. How did members of the community relate to one another? Did they seem to
    know each other and did that impact their communication?
  7. Who attended this event? Does it represent the neighborhood? Who is missing?
  8. What makes this community vibrant?
    What are the needs/resources of the community?
  9. Are you able to identify social service agencies that are based in this
    community? If so, what are they? Who do they serve?
  10. What social services and resources do you think are missing in this
    Office of Advising & Field Education Department
    Preparation for the Profession (P4P)
    Community Engagement Worksheet
  11. How did community leaders react to issues raised by community members?
    Did they seem to identify with the community members? Did the community
    members seem to be heard?
  12. What do you see as the needs/improvements needed in the community?
  13. What do you think the community sees as the needs/improvements needed in
    the community? Was this voiced at the event you attended?
  14. What are the assets and capacities of this community that:
    a. Are located inside the neighborhood and largely under their
    management (such as local individuals, stories, associations, physical
    and economic assets)?
    b. Are located within the community but largely managed by outsiders
    (such as public schools, hospitals, protective services)?
    c. Originate outside of the neighborhood and are managed by outsiders
    (such as public information, capital improvement and welfare
    What was your experience?
  15. What feelings came up for you? What was your reaction to this experience of
    community engagement?
  16. How do you think you were perceived by people in the community? (as a visitor,
    intruder, a member, tourist, etc.)
  17. Was there anything that came out during the experience that was unexpected
    or surprised you?
  18. How did your impression of the community change as a result of this
  19. How did your social identities (race, economic background, gender, sexual
    orientation, gender expression, ethnicity, ability status, age, education), impact
    your perception during the community engagement?
  20. What could you do to more directly connect with/engage/participate with
    people in the community and empower them in the relationship with you?
    Section E: Written Assignment
    Please answer 2 questions from each section above in 2 double-spaced pages.

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