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South Dakota Rural Enterprise Training Opportunities - Creating a Value-Added Community

Creating a Value-Added CommunityCreating a Value-Added Community (CVAC) is a product of the Northwest Area Foundation (NWAF). It was designed to help communities develop strategies for poverty reduction, while planning for economic development.

CVAC’s program materials are modeled after business planning guides and manuals; they focus on reducing poverty, creating wealth, and building community capacity. They introduce and define community development concepts, and provide worksheets and tools to help users adapt these concepts to local needs.


CVAC is built around five value-added capacities, which experience has shown are vital to reducing poverty and revitalizing communities. While these capacities may not always lead to positive community outcomes, communities that develop them usually report significant change for the better.

  • Inclusivity. At the community level, decision-making is often limited to a small group of insiders, some of whom may have been making decisions for decades. Promoting inclusivity means bringing new voices into the planning process. Also, in many rural communities, the same individuals volunteer again and again for all community outreach efforts. Attracting new volunteers is usually one of the toughest challenges that nonprofit organizations and service groups face in these communities.

  • Community Approaches Leading to Regional Impact. Rural communities often enjoy greater economic opportunities when they become part of a larger region. Although many rural communities have a wealth of local talent and skills, most do not have sufficient population to meet all community needs. Rural communities are increasingly realizing the benefits of making regional alliances with neighboring communities. The result is a stronger and more viable community.

  • Creating a value-added community - five value-added capacitiesLeadership Development. Leadership is not confined to the individual. It’s part of a larger system that includes present and future generations of decision-makers. Involving leaders of today and tomorrow carries a community forward while maintaining a shared vision.

    Burn-out is a big problem in many rural communities. Those individuals who are most active in their communities often reach a point where they need a break. When this happens, the gap in local leadership can be sudden and severe.

    Knowledge is another important part of leadership. The CVAC text helps CVAC team members understand the language and process of economic development.

  • Identifying and Building Economic Engines. Economic engines are the platforms on which communities create wealth, through continuous infusion of outside resources, and by building and strengthening local assets. Economic development strategies that expand these resources create wealth for all community residents.

  • Asset-Based Development. Communities achieve better results when they focus on their assets, instead of their deficits or needs. Unfortunately, most economic and community development has historically been focused on the “good/bad” statistics of an area. Many financial resources look for distress, problems, and needs, instead of identifying positive aspects of the community that offer a foundation for building assets.

The CVAC process is aimed at helping rural communities find practical ways to build capacity and fuel their economic engines toward a vibrant local economy. The purpose of the CVAC process is to help community residents understand that addressing poverty issues is good business for the entire community. Guiding the community’s economic future through the appropriate use of value-added capacities enhances the economic and social well-being of the community.

Once communities have learned to focus on their assets, they can tailor poverty reduction strategies that complement their development of those assets. Communities that follow the CVAC process will become knowledgeable about asset-based community development, while enjoying the benefits of poverty reduction. Also, community team members learn to use the filter of poverty reduction to sharpen their understanding of the relationship between the five value-added capacities and the four community level outcomes.

The curriculum was designed to be a comprehensive, user-friendly tool that combines text and worksheets in order to create an integrated approach. Please refer to the last page of this document for an example of one of the worksheets from chapter seven. Each chapter also includes community case studies that help users connect the concepts found in each chapter to concrete examples currently working in communities. Communities and participants are strongly encouraged to complete the CVAC program within six months.

Getting Started: Introduction to CVAC
Inclusive Decision-Making: Broadening the Reach of Community Planning and Development
Gathering Data: An Introduction to Community Research
Economic Engines: Identifying Engines that Create Value
Building Capacity: Understanding Community Skills, Information, and Connections
Asset Development: Identifying and Understanding Social Assets
Asset Development: Identifying and Understanding Your Community’s Physical Assets
Tourism As An Economic Engine
Sources of Capital: Investing In the Social and Physical Assets of the Community
Next Steps: Creating a Plan of Action


Community Encourager
Every local program will be coordinated by a community encourager who may be a volunteer or paid staff person. The community encourager will serve as local liaison between South Dakota Rural Enterprise, the local sponsoring organization, the facilitators, and the participants. In addition, the community encourager will support the local sponsoring organization manage logistics, recruit 10 – 25 participants, and identify financial and in-kind support.

Sponsoring Organization
Communities interested in CVAC training must identify a local organization or coalition willing to sponsor the program. The local sponsoring organization will complete the application and submit it to South Dakota Rural Enterprise, recruit a group of 10 – 25 participants, identify financial support and in-kind contributions, and make critical decisions about local program specifics. Among the critical decisions to be made are identifying a Community Encourager, planning logistics-when and where the program will take place, and participant recruitment and selection.

As with any comprehensive community planning process, quality facilitation is the essence of attaining successful results. Once a community is ready to begin the CVAC process, two experienced facilitators in their region will be identified. Those facilitators will lead the process using a Facilitator’s Guide book and applicable guest speakers, learning activities, and case studies.

CVAC Participant
Individuals interested in participating in CVAC training must do the following: participate in eight of ten CVAC training modules, pay an application fee of $25, participate in program evaluation, participate in CVAC network, and apply CVAC learning to better the community. Click here for an individual participant application form.

South Dakota Rural Enterprise
CVAC is best viewed as a community process rather than an outcome. In that effort, South Dakota Rural Enterprise will administer, market, and provide financial support for CVAC statewide. In addition, South Dakota Rural Enterprise will provide support to the local sponsoring organization, community encourager, and facilitators. As part of this support, South Dakota Rural Enterprise will provide materials, technical assistance, as well as a stipend and travel reimbursement to facilitators. Upon program completion, South Dakota Rural Enterprise will review participant evaluations, assess potential next steps, and continue to connect communities with resources and information.

We hope this is useful information to help you decide if the CVAC process is right for your community. For more information, call 605-978-2804 or e-mail us at or phone 605-978-2804, or click here to download a CVAC community process application form.


  Click here for a community process program application
  Click here for an individual program participant application

Click on a CVAC value-added capacity for details:
  Community approaches leading to regional impact
  Leadership development
  Identifying and building economic engines
  Asset-based development

Click here to learn the roles and responsibilities of the CVAC program

Click here or below for CVAC curriculum info:
  A brief outline of what you will find in each chapter
  A sample Community Assessment Windshield Survey

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. (Confucius)

Made possible through
the support of:

CVAC program made possible with the support of South Dakota Rural Enterprise, Northwest Area Foundation, South Dakota Community Foundation and SDSU/South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service
629 S. Minnesota Ave.
Suite 201
P.O. Box 2282
Sioux Falls, SD

ph 605.978.2804

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