Models Overview

In this section, Organizing Engagement has compiled introductions to some of the more influential and widely used organizing, engagement, and equity models created over the past several decades. Our introductions are intended to provide an accessible survey of the frameworks that have influenced and shaped the field.

For a more detailed discussion, see HOW MODELS WORK

The model introductions described below are listed alphabetically. For a listing of models organized by topic, visit MODELS BY TOPIC

Adverse Community Experiences and Resilience Framework

The Adverse Community Experiences and Resilience Framework describes trauma-related experiences, conditions, and symptoms that adversely impact the functioning of communities, neighborhoods, and schools. The framework proposes strategies that help can build more resilient communities by addressing the manifestations of trauma in social relationships, physical environments, and community systems. Developed by Prevention Institute | Read more 

Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciative Inquiry is a theory, methodology, and process of organizational and social engagement. Described as an “asset-based” approach to systems change, the model emphasizes positive idea generation over problem identification and utilizes questions and dialogue to help participants uncover existing strengths, advantages, or opportunities in their communities, organizations, or teams. Developed by David Cooperrider and Suresh Srivastva | Read more 

Building Blocks of Engagement

The Building Blocks of Engagement model describes six general forms of engagement that are foundational to an effective system of student, family, and community participation in education. Developed by Tina Nabatchi and Matt Leighninger | Read more 

Citizen Participation Continuum

The Citizen Participation Continuum describes the various roles that community-development corporations (CDCs) and community-based organizations (CBOs) can play in facilitating the participation of community members in local educational, civic, or governmental decision-making. Developed by Robert Silverman | Read more 

Core Principles for Public Engagement

The Core Principles of Public Engagement describes seven foundational principles and related practices that can be used to promote more effective, open, and equitable public participation in school, community, and government decision-making. Developed by the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation, International Association for Public Participation, and Co-Intelligence Institute | Read more 

Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity

The Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity is one of the more influential models in the field of intercultural communication. The model describes a developmental continuum along which people can progress toward a deeper understanding and appreciation of cross-cultural differences. Developed by Milton Bennett and Intercultural Development Research Institute | Read more 

Dialogue to Change Process

The Dialogue to Change Process describes an adaptable step-by-step process for designing and implementing equitable community dialogue, organizing, and engagement processes that can help diverse groups build relationships and trust, share stories and viewpoints, learn about community issues and problems, and work collaboratively toward solutions and action. Developed by Everyday Democracy | Read more 

Dignity Model

The Dignity Model describes ten essential elements of dignity. The model provides a framework for understanding how the experience of dignity can help strengthen relationships, resolve conflicts, or make organizations more successful, and how violations of dignity inevitably damage relationships, incite conflicts, or undermine organizational cultures. Developed by Donna Hicks | Read more 

Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships

The Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships describes some of the foundational conditions, goals, and outcomes that are essential to effective engagement and collaboration between schools and families. Developed by Karen Mapp and Paul Kuttner in 2013; revised in collaboration with Marissa Alberty, Eyal Bergman, and the Institute for Educational Leadership in 2019 | Read more 

Engagement Streams Framework

The Engagement Streams Framework is an influential and widely used resource that describes appropriate and effective engagement strategies for a wide variety of contexts, problems, or goals. The model articulates four general categories of engagement that are aligned with brief descriptions of different dialogue and deliberation methods. Developed by Sandy Heierbacher and the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation | Read more 

Equitable Collaboration Framework

The Equitable Collaboration Framework encompasses several resources and publications that describe a variety of approaches that school systems can use to promote equitable collaboration and partnership with students, families, and community members. Developed by Ann Ishimaru and the Equitable Parent-School Collaboration Research Project at the University of Washington | Read more 

Equity Literacy

The Equity Literacy framework describes the foundational skills, abilities, and attributes of “equity literate” educators. The framework can help schools and communities address the underlying structural forces, systemic barriers, and opportunity gaps that create and perpetuate educational inequities. Developed by Paul Gorski and Katy Swalwell of the Equity Literacy Institute | Read more 

Five Key Dimensions of Participation

The Five Key Dimension of Participation model describes the fundamental features of adult-led organizations working to promote positive youth development and participation. The five dimensions provide a framework and vocabulary for understanding how organizations can create environments that support youth leadership and decision-making. Developed by Neema Kudva and David Driskell | Read more 

Framework of Six Types of Involvement

The Framework of Six Types of Involvement is one of the more influential models in the field of youth, family, and community engagement in schools. The framework describes a systemic approach to developing school-family-community partnerships intended to cultivate a “culture of partnerships” throughout a district or school. Developed by Joyce Epstein and collaborators | Read more 

Ladder of Children’s Participation

The Ladder of Children’s Participation describes eight levels of decision-making agency, control, and power that can be given to children and youth by adults. The “rungs” of the ladder represent a continuum of power that ascends from nonparticipation (no agency) to degrees of participation (increasing levels of agency). Developed by Roger Hart | Read more 

Ladder of Citizen Participation

The Ladder of Citizen Participation is one of the most influential and widely referenced models in the field of democratic public participation. The model describes how empowered public institutions and officials deny power to citizens, and how levels of citizen agency, control, and power can be increased. Developed by Sherry Arnstein | Read more 

Ladder of Empowerment

The Ladder of Empowerment was one of the first civic-participation models to describe the characteristics of individual and collective forms of community empowerment in democratic decision-making. While earlier models described the dynamics of power or participation, the Ladder of Empowerment addresses the elements of building power and the conditions that contribute to (or undermine) power-building in communities. Developed by Elizabeth Rocha | Read more 

Parent Leadership Indicators Framework

The Parent Leadership Indicators Framework articulates a set of descriptive indicators that parent-leadership organizations can use to self-assess their practices, measure program impact, and improve communication with parents, partners, and the public. Developed by the Parent Leadership Indicators Project at the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools | Read more 

Parent Teacher Home Visit Model

The Parent Teacher Home Visit model outlines a process and set of practices that can help educators and families build more trusting and mutually supportive relationships to positively impact a child’s education. Developed by Parent Teacher Home Visits | Read more 

Participatory Action Research and Evaluation

A community-driven approach to research, evaluation, and social or organizational change that intentionally includes the people who are most affected by an inquiry in the design and execution of the process. Participatory action research and evaluation helps to ensure that the methods and findings more accurately reflect the perspectives, cultures, priorities, or concerns of those who are being studied. | Read more 

Participatory Budgeting

Participatory Budgeting is a civic-engagement process that can strengthen local democracy and help make public spending more equitable and effective by allowing community members to decide how to spend portions of an annual public budget. Developed by the Participatory Budgeting Project | Read more 

Pathways to Participation

The Pathways to Participation model articulates a developmental progression of child and youth participation in organizations and communities that can inform planning or reflection. The describes five distinct levels of participation and three “stages of commitment” representing degrees of dedication and fidelity to the empowerment of children and youth. Developed by Harry Shier | Read more 

Quality Assurance Standard for Community and Stakeholder Engagement

The Quality Assurance Standard Process for Community and Stakeholder Engagement outlines a step-by-step process for benchmarking and evaluating effective community and stakeholder engagement. The framework includes brief descriptions of the essential practices, goals, features, and considerations for each step in the process. Developed by the International Association for Public Participation | Read more 

Shared Space Café

The Shared Space Café is an inclusive community-dialogue process that can be used in multicultural and multilingual settings. The process addresses the unequal power dynamics that can result from a variety of cultural barriers, such as differences in language ability, education, income, or social status. Developed by Portland Empowered at the University of Southern Maine’s Cutler Institute | Read more 

Six Principles for Equitable and Inclusive Civic Engagement

The Principles for Equitable and Inclusive Civic Engagement framework describes essential elements of effective civic engagement, particularly in communities dealing with the adverse effects of disinvestment, discrimination, or disenfranchisement. The principles emphasize that engagement work cannot be separated from the larger cultural, political, and socioeconomic context of a community and should remain responsive to conditions of inequity and injustice. Developed by Kip Holley and the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity | Read more 

Spectrum of Public Participation

The Spectrum of Public Participation describes five general modes of public participation that fall on a progressive continuum of increasing community influence over public decision-making. The influential and widely used model can help groups define and determine the public’s role in a civic-engagement process. Developed by the International Association for Public Participation | Read more 

Storytelling Project Model

The Storytelling Project Model provides a framework for using different forms of narrative to convey the lived experiences of race in revealing ways. The dialogue model can help people collectively analyze and better understand the many forms that racism can take in organizations and society. Developed by Lee Anne Bell and collaborators | Read more 

Trauma Informed Community Building Model

The Trauma Informed Community Building Model is a research-based guide to using trauma-informed engagement practices and interventions to strengthen communities. The model describes several interrelated dimensions of trauma-informed community-building practice and includes a framework for evaluating community strength and resilience. Developed by BRIDGE Housing Corporation | Read more 

Types of Engagement: Conventional, Thin, and Thick Engagement

The Types of Engagement model describes three foundational forms of engagement: thick, thin, and conventional. Leighninger’s descriptions offer a useful framework for understanding different varieties of community participation, as well as some of the strengths and weaknesses of each approach. Developed by Matt Leighninger | Read more 

Typology of Youth Participation and Empowerment Pyramid

The Typology of Youth Participation and Empowerment (TYPE) Pyramid describes three general categories of youth participation: adult control, youth control, and shared control. The authors argue that “shared youth-adult control in participatory research and action may be ideal for positive youth development and empowerment rather than youth-driven participation.” Developed by Naima Wong, Marc Zimmerman, and Edith Parker | Read more 

Varieties of Participation

The influential Varieties of Participation model describes the most common forms of public participation in local democratic governance. Visually represented as a three-dimensional “Democracy Cube,” the model details methods of participatory selection, modes of communication and decision-making, and degrees of power and authority granted to the public. Developed by Archon Fung | Read more 

Why Am I Always Being Researched? Seven Inequities Framework

The Why Am I Always Being Researched? Seven Inequities framework outlines seven ways in which power dynamics can bias research agendas, generate misrepresentative results, perpetuate structural discrimination, and contribute to community disinvestment. The framework also proposes a set of complementary opportunities to design research and evaluation programs in ways that produce more authentic truths that will better serve communities. Developed by Chicago Beyond and Community Partners | Read more 

Youth Engagement Continuum

The Youth Engagement Continuum describes both five forms and four degrees of youth engagement on a developmental continuum that progresses toward authentic youth empowerment in educational, civic, and political decision-making. Developed by the Funders’ Collaborative on Youth Organizing | Read more