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Community Development Education

SPARC BC brings theoretical knowledge and experience to work with communities to provide community development education and support to build capacity at the local level. This work reflects our values of social justice, inclusion, integrity and learning. Through the delivery of our workshops and our SPROUT resource guides, our goal is to encourage citizen participation and to support innovative and effective local planning and decision-making.


Through the delivery of the CDE program, SPARC BC has delivered community development workshops in over fifty communities across BC involving the participation of more than six hundred individuals and organizations from across different sectors. Participants in our CDE program include:

  • Government
  • First Nations
  • Businesses
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Civil society

The Community Development Education (CDE) program promotes place-based learning and provides a culturally responsive approach to community development education that includes workshops, dialogues, community facilitation and training.


Given SPARC BC’s commitment to partnership, the CDE program is delivered through a multi-sector collaborative process entitled Learning Initiatives for Rural and Northern BC (LIRN).


The LIRN partners are:

  • Association of Neighbourhood Houses BC (ANHBC)
  • BC Centre for Employment Excellence
  • BC Healthy Communities (PlanH Program)
  • Leave Out Violence (LOVE) Society of BC
  • PeerNetBC
  • Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia (SPARC BC)
  • UBC Library, Irving K. Barber Learning Centre
  • Vantage Point
  • Volunteer BC
  • YouthCo


Our 10 Workshops

We have ten workshop frameworks from which to choose, with these programs being tailored to meet the specific needs or interests of your community. The workshops are free or low-cost and are available to rural and Northern BC Communities (under 25,000 population).


Non-profit organizations, community-based groups, First Nations and local governments are welcome to apply to the CDE program provided they meet the following criteria:


  • Are located in rural, remote and/or northern region of BC
  • Have a population of less than 25,000
  • Demonstrate support or partnership within the community (including coordination to avoid multiple applications from the same community)
  • Demonstrate local need for the learning event
  • Articulate anticipated outcomes for a learning event in their community

For more information, contact Scott Graham at sgraham@sparc.bc.ca or read about how to apply.



Workshop Descriptions

  1. Building Bridges Together: How to Develop an Intercultural Dialogue Series between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Peoples

    By participating in this workshop, participants will:

    • Understand principles for effective intercultural work between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples;
    • Gain knowledge about case studies of successful partnerships;
    • Develop an awareness of the historical and contemporary forces that shape current local relations between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples;
    • Understand collaborative approaches to organizing, implementing and evaluating intercultural projects.

  2. Knowing Which Way the Wind Blows: Getting Indicators to Work for Your Community

    How can your community develop and use indicators in community learning, planning and action programs? This workshop helps show the way. Participants in this workshop will:

    • Acquire knowledge of key concepts used to discuss indicators and indicator monitoring projects;
    • Develop an awareness of indicator sources and resources for ongoing learning about indicators and indicator projects (i.e., vital signs, etc.);
    • Gain an understanding of one community-based method for designing and implementing a community indicator monitoring project that involves the public and is linked to action strategies.

  3. Knowledge is Power: Ins and Outs of Community-Based Participatory Action Research

    Communities can be and should be directly involved in creating research about issues that matter to local people. This workshop provides participants with:

    • Knowledge about the theory, practice, ethics and examples of community-based participatory action research;
    • Knowledge of qualitative and quantitative data collection methods and analytical tools;
    • Skills to create research questions and a related research, analysis and knowledge transfer plan;
    • Strategies for linking community research to planning and action.

  4. Traction for Social Action: How to Create a Strategic Social Development Plan

    Most BC communities include diverse government and non-government agencies who are working to build a strong local social safety net and related preventative initiatives. For leaders in social development sectors who feel that their community is moving in many different directions but not creating positive change in any one area, the development of a strategic social plan can help. In this workshop, participants will:

    • Understand the components of a strategic social development plan, as well as the benefits and challenges of creating and implementing such plans;
    • Gain knowledge about an eight step process for creating a social development plan;
    • Engage in exercises that start the process of creating a social development plan for their community.

  5. Making Space for Everyone: Using Accessibility Audits to Achieve Accessible Communities

    By participating in this workshop participants will:

    • Understand the theory and practice of accessibility;
    • Gain knowledge about how to conduct an accessibility audit of their community and how to create strategies for increasing awareness of the importance of accessibility;
    • Gain knowledge about and engage in dialogue regarding accessible living, transportation, building design, technology,  signage, etc.

  6. Pathways of Community Social Planning: Principles, Governance Models and Methods

    Community Social Planning (CSP) is a local, democratic system for setting priorities, arriving at equitable compromises and taking action. It supports community needs and interests in social, cultural, economic, and environmental affairs. In this workshop, participants will:

    • Understand the principles and activities inherent in community social planning, and understand different governance structures for community social planning;
    • Understand the organizational life cycle of community social planning councils (CSPC), and know how to establish and develop a CSPC;
    • Gain knowledge of community social planning methods and case studies of different methods.

  7. Your Voice and Public Policy: How to Advocate for Structural/Systemic Change

    You have the right to be involved in setting the agenda for public policy matters that affect your life. In this workshop, participants will:

    • Understand the roles and responsibilities of different levels of government in Canada;
    • Understand different strategies for participating in public policy formation;
    • Identify the key players in locally relevant public policy areas and begin developing policy positions on key issues;
    • Gain the skills to create a local strategy to engage in policy dialogue with political leaders and government officials in selected policy areas.

  8. Setting Goals and Charting a Course: How to Lead Strategic Planning for Nonprofit Organizations

    This workshop is for organizational leaders who want to:

    • Understand the theory and practice of effective strategic planning, and learn about examples of strategic planning processes of non-profit organizations;
    • Develop the skills and knowledge to lead, implement and evaluate a strategic planning process for your organization.

  9. Project Ideas, Grants and Sustainability: Understanding the Practice of Proposal Development

    This workshop is for organizational leaders and engaged citizens who want to:

    • Understand the elements of and steps leading to a successful proposal;
    • Gain knowledge of relevant sources of funding for BC non-profit organizations, municipalities and First Nations;
    • Understand the challenges of and strategies to sustain community-based programs;
    • Start the process of identifying project ideas and forming a team to develop a proposal.

  10. Participation for Positive Change: Exploring Community Engagement Methods

    There are hundreds of ways to engage your community in local change processes. This workshop is for people who want to:

    • Understand different methods for community engagement and gain knowledge of resources for community engagement work;
    • Gain awareness of the specific steps inherent in designing, implementing and evaluating a community engagement project;
    • Engage in dialogue about potential community engagement initiatives that would work in your community.


How to Apply

Given SPARC BC’s commitment to partnership, the CDE program is delivered through a multi-sector collaborative process entitled Learning Initiatives for Rural and Northern BC (LIRN). The LIRN process involves the coordination of a provincial Expression of Interest process and the co-design and co-delivery of up to twenty community-based learning initiatives each fiscal year.


The LIRN process is led by a working group of government and non-government organizations that are committed to excellence in the practice of community capacity development in BC. The LIRN partners are: Association of Neighbourhood Houses BC (ANHBC); BC Centre for Employment Excellence; BC Healthy Communities (PlanH Program); Leave Out Violence (LOVE) Society of BC; PeerNetBC; Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia (SPARC BC); UBC Library, Irving K. Barber Learning Centre; Vantage Point; Volunteer BC; YouthCo.


In the month of April, the LIRN partners distribute an Expression of Interest (EOI) to 10 provincial networks. Applications are due in mid-June. All applications are reviewed and prioritized by the LIRN partners in accordance with an objective list of criteria, which is organized according to the following themes: (1) Community Location, (2) Organizational Profile, (3) Community Support, and (4) Community Interests, Issues, Assets and Anticipated Outcomes.


The LIRN partners will try to provide learning events to as many of the applicants as possible within our respective budgets. Check the SPARC BC website in mid-April for details, or contact Scott Graham at sgraham@sparc.bc.ca