American Journal of Community Psychology

, Volume 23, Issue 5, pp 677-697

First online:

Using empowerment theory in collaborative partnerships for community health and development

  • Stephen B. FawcettAffiliated withDepartment of Human Development, University of Kansas
  • , Adrienne Paine-Andrews
  • , Vincent T. Francisco
  • , Jerry A. Schultz
  • , Kimber P. Richter
  • , Rhonda K. Lewis
  • , Ella L. Williams
  • , Kari J. Harris
  • , Jannette Y. Berkley
    • , Jacqueline L. Fisher
    • , Christine M. Lopez

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Models of community empowerment help us understand the process of gaining influence over conditions that matter to people who share neighborhoods, workplaces, experiences, or concerns. Such frameworks can help improve collaborative partnerships for community health and development. First, we outline an interactive model of community empowerment that describes reciprocal influences between personal or group factors and environmental factors in an empowerment process. Second, we describe an iterative framework for the process of empowerment in community partnerships that includes collaborative planning, community action, community change, capacity building, and outcomes, and adaptation, renewal, and institutionalization. Third, we outline activities that are used by community leadership and support organizations to facilitate the process of community empowerment. Fourth, we present case stories of collaborative partnerships for prevention of substance abuse among adolescents to illustrate selected enabling activities. We conclude with a discussion of the challenges and opportunities of facilitating empowerment with collaborative partnerships for community health and development.

Key Words

empowerment collaboration health coalitions prevention community development