Our Work within Communities

You want your community to be one of the best places to live, work, and play. We want that too. Communities are constantly tackling tough issues and grappling with scarce resources. Many are facing problems with economic development, opioid abuse, education system deficiencies, racial tensions, and overall decline in quality of life. Communities want to preserve the legacy and the history of their area, while continuing to grow and adjust to the present and future.  The Harwood Institute knows the challenges that communities face. For over 30 years we have worked closely with foundations, organizations, and collaboratives, training leaders in order to move change and strengthen communities.

Prominent Training Alumni



President and CEO, Greater Clark County Foundation, KY

"Our partnership with the Institute furthers our mission to develop local leaders that will successfully lead our region into the future and achieve long-term goals." 


Morgana fREEMAN

Executive Director, Tallahatchie River Foundation, MS

"At the Tallahatchie River Foundation, we believe in the power of collaboration. The Harwood Institute is helping us bring the community together to champion education."



CEO, United Way of Battle Creek and Kalamazoo, MI

"All communities struggle to tackle issues they feel are important. This approach lets us ask the community what the end goal is and what are the aspirations we have."

Available Training

Case Studies

Featured Tools

Featured Publications

Building Community As If People Mattered by Brook Manville, Forbes

...It Begins—And Ends—With The People
What unifies it all for Rich Harwood is people: building a community always comes back to the core, its human members. As he explained, unless a leader lives that truth, no progress can ever be sustained. “But ironically, the more ‘community’ has become important to leaders—as it has in recent years—the more they’ve squeezed out the human element as they try to ‘fix the problems.’ They gloss over what people really care about. A new generation of technocrats has turned community building into a Gantt chart, endless initiatives following a schedule. Even worse, they often frame challenges around their own good—not the common good.”.. Read more

Organizational changes are first steps on public media’s path toward engagement by Jack Galmiche and Amy Shaw, The Current

The Harwood Institute, for example, adapted The Engagement Path to focus specifically on its potential for public media. With support from CPB, the institute produced the “Community Engagement Initiative: How Public Broadcasting Can Strengthen Civic Engagement and Deepen Its Local Significance.”The 2007 initiative aimed to “find new ways to make public television and radio stations more significant local organizations, important to and deeply involved in the civic life of their communities.” Through the Community Engagement Initiative, public media began to pivot from community outreach to community engagement. Read more

United Way of Manatee County Turns to the Community to Uplift Grade-Level Reading
 by United Way of Manatee, Suncoast Grade Level Reading Campaign

The United Way of Manatee County develops resources and partnerships that make a measurable difference in people’s lives. How we do that has been undergoing a transformation for several years, and it is playing out in our work with the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading in Manatee County. For the past four years, we have been thoughtfully transforming from a fundraiser on behalf of others – funding individual programs, in individual communities that impact individuals – to a community change agent that works collectively to ensure community-level impact.. Read more