Understanding and growing social capital
The glue that holds communities together
Creating community discussion about social capital makes a difference. When groups consider what it is, why it matters, and what can be done to create it, they can act intentionally to strengthen it in their community. Through video tapes, activities and group discussion, this workshop helps groups move to action. Groups will understand:
- what social capital looks like in communities.
- three elements that matter to social capital.
- how social capital creates community benefits.
- how to build social capital in everyday ways.
On this page
What is social capital?
Have you ever stopped to think about what holds your community together? "Community glue" isn't something you can rush out to the local hardware store and purchase. You won't find a site to buy it online, but if you look really closely you might see it at the grocery store or at your church or even in the newspaper! This "community glue" is called social capital. Strengthening the social capital of your community can help make people's lives healthier, safer and richer.
Assessing social capital
Using 'Our Community' tool
'Our Community' is an assessment tool residents of rural communities can use to gain an accurate picture of the social capital in their area – the ties and connections among its people and organizations. 'Our Community' was designed specifically for rural communities by University of Minnesota Extension educators and staff, in collaboration with Yellow Wood Associates. Learn more about the 'Our Community' survey instrument.
Social capital video and audio clips
Learn more about social capital and what it looks like in communities from four video and one audio clip. These clips instruct and demonstrate how the lives of community residents are enriched by a high level of social capital.
Watch and listen
Read more about growing social capital
- Social Capital and Our Community (1 MB PDF) — Published by University of Minnesota Extension Center for Community Vitality
- The What, Why, Who, How, When, and Where of Public Participation (206 K PDF) — Published by University of Minnesota Extension Center for Community Vitality
- 'Social capital' makes communities better places to live— Published by University of Minnesota Extension Center for Community Vitality
- 150 Things You Can Do To Build Social Capital. Published by the Saguaro Seminar on Civic Engagement in America, Harvard University Kennedy School of Government
Contact an educator
Contact an Extension educator to get more information on consultation and training for your community.