Drivers for Change – Strengthen Capacity
Equity Framework > Drivers for Change > Capacity Strengthening / Capacity Building
All people, organizations, and communities have capacity; however, capacity can be developed and strengthened. Capacity is more than skills, it refers to the people, approaches, and resources needed to achieve a goal. Capacity strengthening is a continuous process that includes:
- people who are willing to be involved;
- skills, knowledge and abilities;
- ability to identify and access opportunities;
- motivation and the abilities to carry out initiatives;
- infrastructure, supportive institutions and physical resources;
- leadership and the structures needed for participation
- supportive financial resources; and
- enabling policies and systems
Capacity strengthening approaches can focus on organizational culture change, cultural responsiveness, community partnerships, power analyses, anti-racism analyses, historical and political contexts, structural inequities, continuous quality improvement, customer service, and many other topics.
The uptake and impact of capacity strengthening depends on readiness. Readiness refers to the degree to which a group (e.g. organization, community, or team) is ready to take action on an issue. Readiness is issue-specific and can vary across a group or dimension of a problem. Understanding readiness is a crucial part of addressing an issue; once readiness is understood, strategies can be tailored to what a group is willing to accept and support.
- Frank, F. (1999). The community development handbook: a tool to build community capacity. Ottawa: Human Resources Development Canada. Retrieved from
- Equity-Centered Capacity Building: Essential Approaches For Excellence & Sustainable School System Transformation. Retrieved from
- Community Readiness – Community Tool Box. Retrieved from
Further Reading / Additional resources
Developing a Practice of Equity Minded Indicators – Center for Urban Education Director Estela Mara Bensimon developed twelve indicators to help institutions develop a practice of Equity-Mindedness.
Taking Equity-Minded Action to Close Equity Gaps by: Lindsey Malcom-Piqueux and Estela Mara Bensimon.
This article discusses the ‘equity problem’ in American higher education and the principles of equity-mindedness.
Tyler I, Amare H, Hyndman B, Manson H; Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion (Public Health Ontario). Health equity assessment: facilitators and barriers to application of health equity tools. Toronto, ON: Queen’s Printer for Ontario; 2014.
Organizational Capacity Assessment Tool – The Marguerite Casey Foundation
Community Readiness Model and Assessment – Community Tool Box