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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato


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Principles of Community Engagement


  • Be clear about the purposes or goals of the engagement effort, and the populations and/or communities you want to engage.

    The implementors of the engagement process need to be able to communicate to the community why their participation is worthwhile.


  • Become knowledgeable about the community in terms of its economic conditions, political structures, norms and values, demographic trends, history, and experience with engagement efforts.

    Learn about the community's perceptions of those initiating the engagement activities. It is important to learn as much about the community as possible, through both qualitative and quantitative methods from as many sources as feasible.


  • Go into the community, establish relationships, build trust, work with the formal and informal leadership, and seek commitment from community organizations and leaders to create processes for mobilizing the community.

Engagement is based on community support for whatever the process is trying to achieve.


  • Remember and accept that community self-determination is the responsibility and right of all people who comprise a community.

No external entity should assume it can bestow upon a community the power to act in its own self-interest. Just because an institution or organization introduces itself into the community does not mean that it is automatically of the community.


  • Partnering with the community is necessary to create change and improve health.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines partnership as "a relationship between individuals or groups that is characterized by mutual cooperation and responsibility, as for the achievement of a specified goal."



From: CDC/ATSDR Committee on Community Engagement. (1997). Principles of Community Engagement.

To link to the CDC/ATSDR report,  click here

Community Engagement must not discriminate on the basis of disability; age; race; cultural identity; ethnicity; nationality; family educational history (e.g., first generation to attend college); political affiliation; religious affiliation; sex; sexual orientation; gender identity and expression; marital, social, economic, or veteran status; or any other basis included in institutional policies and codes and laws.  (Council for the Advancement of Standards, 2015)