Standards for public agencies

2020 Edition

Community Change Initiatives (PA-CCI) 5: Community Assessment

An assessment is conducted in partnership with relevant stakeholders to identify the community's characteristics, assets, needs, and priorities.
NA The agency only provides technical assistance to community change initiatives.




Community Change Initiatives mobilize the community for action, strengthen the capacity of residents and agencies to effect and sustain change, build and improve neighborhoods, and lay the groundwork for future progress.
Full Implementation, Outstanding Performance
A rating of (1) indicates that the agency's practices fully meet the standard and reflect a high level of capacity.  
  • All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, with rare or no exceptions: exceptions do not impact service quality or agency performance. 
Substantial Implementation, Good Performance
A rating of (2) indicates that an agency's infrastructure and practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement.
  • The majority of the standards requirements have been met and the basic framework required by the standard has been implemented. 
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality or agency performance.

Partial Implementation, Concerning Performance
A rating of (3) indicates that the agency's observed infrastructure and/or practices require significant improvement.  

  • The agency has not implemented the basic framework of the standard but instead has in place only part of this framework.  
  • Omissions or exceptions to the practices outlined in the standard occur regularly, or practices are implemented in a cursory or haphazard manner.  
  • Service quality or agency functioning may be compromised.  
  • Capacity is at a basic level.
Unsatisfactory Implementation or Performance
A rating of (4) indicates that implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all.  
  • The agency’s observed service delivery infrastructure and practices are weak or non-existent; or show signs of neglect, stagnation, or deterioration.
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Assessment procedures
  • Copy of assessment tool(s)
  • Copy of most recent community assessment(s)
  • Evidence of collaboration with stakeholders (i.e., meeting notices, meeting agendas, meeting minutes, correspondence, documentation of decisions)
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Stakeholders


PA-CCI 5.01

A culturally and linguistically responsive assessment is conducted using planned, diverse strategies to systematically identify and analyze the community’s: 
  1. demographics and characteristics;
  2. protective factors, including the assets, skills, capacities, and resources of its residents, agencies, and institutions; and 
  3. needs, issues, and concerns.


Evidence-based assessment strategies should be used whenever possible.


COA recognizes that, in some cases, the agency might not conduct the community assessment directly and instead might utilize the results of an assessment already conducted by another party. For example, if the state department of health conducted an assessment which revealed that a certain problem existed in the community, the initiative might have been launched in response to that identified need. When this is the case, the agency is not expected to complete another community assessment. However, it should be prepared to provide evidence of the assessment it draws upon in order to demonstrate that the initiative has been built based on real data.

Regardless of who conducts the community assessment, the information should be up-to-date, ideally collected within the last three years.
Examples: A variety of strategies may be used to gather this information. Strategies may include, but are not limited to: surveys; one-on-one interviews; focus groups; reviews of existing demographic information, research, and literature, including environmental scans and needs assessments; informal outreach through door-to-door canvassing or visits to community centers and other gathering places; media analysis; and power mapping.

Examples: Community demographics and characteristics can include things like population statistics, age, marital status, household size, racial and ethnic background, language spoken, educational levels, employment rates, income, and health statistics.


PA-CCI 5.02

The agency works with relevant stakeholders to set the initiative’s priorities based on the findings of the assessment and a shared vision for the community.


In some cases an initiative’s primary priority may have been established in response to an already-identified concern. However, the agency should still work with community stakeholders to get their input about the pre-determined priorities, and stakeholders should be involved in establishing future priorities whenever possible.