Practical instructions for getting a community invested in BEAD from Benton

Benton Institute for Broadband and Society has a great article on Getting a BEAD on Community Asset Mapping How Community Development Can Aid Your State’s Broadband Planning. They include what and whom to gather…

The six buckets are individual residents, voluntary associations, formal institutions and agencies, physical assets, local economy and exchange, and culture and stories.


And even details on the nitty gritty…

Asset mapping is the process of identifying, engaging and mobilizing these assets. A community asset mapping is entirely distinct from a resource directory which simply lists assets and provides contact information. This distinction is around purpose and rooted in its creation process. Asset mapping is done by gathering community residents and stakeholders and facilitating discussions about what and where the assets are and how they might be engaged and activated towards a community goal. There are a variety of ways to do this and the ABCD Institute at DePaul University has numerous worksheets and templates available. The most effective process I have used goes as follows:

First, gather community residents, leaders and connectors in person or online (if that can be done in an equitable way). Include some key non-resident stakeholders but keep residents, of different ages, in the majority. Nonresident stakeholders who can be very useful in this process include teachers, small business owners, chambers of commerce staff, clergy, school social workers, library staff, and municipal/county/tribal employees such as park and recreation workers, planners and utility workers. This process works especially well with 35-55 people but can be adapted for larger groups. Once gathered, follow these steps:

  1. Randomly divide the large group into six sub-groups.
  2. Assign each group to an asset bucket or category (usually posted on walls around the room)
  3. Give the groups 5-6 minutes to brainstorm and write all the assets in that category that can be found in the defined community (neighborhood, town, county).
  4. After 5-6 minutes ring a bell and have the groups rotate to a new asset category. Give them 4-5 minutes at the new station.
  5. Repeat until all sub-groups have added their input to all asset categories.
  6. Ask each group to rotate one last time to return to the asset category they started with and have them read what was added by other subgroups.
  7. Ask a representative from each area to read the assets from that category to the whole room. Often some discussion will result in recategorization of assets and many assets will appropriately appear in more than one area (e.g. a church is an association that often has physical assets and resident leaders). This will feel long and redundant for the facilitator – but the process creates a cumulative effect on participants. Hearing all the strengths of one’s community for 20 minutes is empowering and energizing and prepares the participants for the next steps.
  8. Seat participants at tables (or send to new breakout rooms if virtual) and ask groups at tables to look at all the assets and answer three questions:
    1. “What can we do with what we have to ________?” The blank would be the purpose of the convening. It could be as broad as “… to make our community stronger.” It can also be specific like “to make our community heart healthy” or “to achieve digital equity.” (Have a definition handy to help focus the discussion.)
    2. What can we do with what we have and some help from others outside the community?
    3. What do we need others outside the community to do?
  9. After 10-15 minutes ask each table to identify 1-2 ideas that they are particularly excited about.
  10. Have each table present their best ideas, using some descriptor words written on paper then taped to the wall.
  11. Ask everyone in the room to think about actions that they want to work on and to which they want to contribute their time or talents. Then invite participants to stand next to the piece of paper with the action idea they want to work on. (Remind participants “It is OK to not stand – honor your limits.”)
  12. Give each group a flip chart sheet to use to identify the assets they might use to implement their action and make the change they want to make. Also, have them write down when and where their action group is meeting next to plan/implement.
  13. Have each action team share out and give participants an opportunity to ‘change teams’ or add their name to a team.
  14. Celebrate and let everyone know when and how follow-up will happen.


This entry was posted in Building Broadband Tools, Funding and tagged by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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