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ToP Facilitation Methods for Community Engagement

ToP methods were created and refined through decades of community-based change work. This course follows the cycle of a community planning process, analysis, planning, implementation and evaluation. Learn both theoretical frameworks and practical tools to support authentic community engagement, community driven and led decision-making throughout a community project planning cycle. Participants will be an interactive learning community, learning from each other in addition to the tools and frameworks shared.


Oftentimes community work can become fragmented and combative; learn how to help groups come together to create consensus on what changes they are for in addition to what they are against.

 In addition to teaching many specific community development tools and methods, this course also teaches the same tools as the ToP Facilitation Methods ciyrse but within a community context - Focused Conversation, Consensus Workshop and Action Planning


After completing the workshop participants will be able to:

  • Understand the project life cycle of a community initiative
  • Create inclusive meeting design that will help them move forward projects or initiatives
  • Engage community stakeholders in the planning process;
  • Foster ownership and buy in from community stakeholders;
  • Facilitate meaningful and productive conversations in a variety of settings;
  • Create consensus of clear goals and strategies;
  • Be clear about the level of participation you are seeking in your  community work
  • Understand the asset-based approach to community development
  • Identify community stakeholders and assets
  • Identify and map different types of partnerships and stakeholders and strategize engagement
  • Facilitate group consensus-based workshops
  • Shape questions that stimulate candid feedback and discussion
  • Acquire a framework for any group process – from a small workshop to a multi-day conference
  • Assemble detailed action plans in less time
  • Guide a meaningful group conversation


Here is an example of a more detailed CDI course outline that was given to an in-house client. The Bay Area course will include additional tools and methods. 

Workshop 1 – Context Settings & Tools for Understanding the Current Reality of Your Community 

(Environmental Scanning - Analysis)

  • Introduction to one another 
  • Setting ground rules and principles for effective communication
  • Exploring a facilitators stance: Hierarchical vs. facilitative leadership
  • Overview of a project/planning cycle within community
  • Introducing methods for environmental scanning (historical scan - create a shared history of a with a diverse or new group)
  • Introduction to the Focused Conversation

 Workshop 2 – Tools for Creating Plans with Diverse Stakeholder Groups 


  • Framework of Support – Creating a map of invested parties in a project
  • Introduction to the Workshop Method - Build consensus and create a shared vision for moving forward
  • Social Styles Analysis - Knowing your social style/personality
  • Understanding Conflict - Discuss and learn about different types of conflict and ways of dealing with conflict

 Workshop 3 – Tools for Creating and Implementing Plans of Action 


  • Ladder of Participation – be clear at the level you are being engaged at/where you are engaging people
  • Action Planning - creating and putting a timeline to an implementable plan of action with a group
  • Resources for seeking support outside of the community area
  • Introduction to strategic thinking

Workshop 4 – Tools for Strategic Meeting Design, Evaluating Your Project, Open Space

  • Tools and techniques for meeting design
  • How do you know you have been successful?
  • Time designated for participant requested tools/techniques

Course Applicable To:

  • Local leaders, community organizers, community agencies, community development groups, community planners, community economic advisers, community relations officers, concerned citizens, community-based organization staff… etc.
  • Those who want tools and frameworks to better support communities they work in.


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