SPF Series: Building Capacity While Utilizing Cultural Competence

If you have been following our SPF Series or if this is your first time hearing about it, you are in for a treat! Last month, our SPF blog series covered Assessment. This month, we are diving in to… (drum roll, please)…

Building Capacity (also known as Capacity Building)!

In order to implement your organization’s programs, policies, or strategies and succeed, you must have the capacity to do so! SAMHSA refers to this as having the resources and readiness to support the programs that address identified substance abuse problems in your community.

Building capacity involves looking carefully at your assessment data to see what resources are present in the community, but may not be mobilized, where the gaps are and deciding how to take action from there.

It’s all about the resources!

Two very important pieces of capacity building are developing a plan to mobilize current resources and developing new resources to fill in the gaps identified in your assessment.

Do you have all of the fiscal, human, organizational, and other resources you need to address the issues in your community? Or do you need to find ways to access more? Who could be your new partners and what can they bring to the table? How can you expand your current collaborations to address the gaps? What other agencies could assist us in reaching our goal?

These are very important questions to ask when working on a project, and, once you know what you lack, the direction of where to go next is much clearer.

Is your community on board?

M1While the data that you gather may reveal the problems that need to be addressed in the community, you have to make sure that the community is ready to address them too. That is where the community readiness model comes in handy!

The Community Readiness Model helps identify the level of readiness of your community to ensure that you develop strategies that are consistent with your community’s readiness level.  Here are the 9 stages of readiness:

  • No awareness
  • Denial/resistance
  • Vague awareness
  • Preplanning
  • Preparation
  • Initiation
  • Stabilization
  • Confirmation/Expansion
  • High Level of Community Ownership

In order to determine the level of your community’s readiness, you can conduct community readiness assessments with members from different sectors in the community. These assessments actually provide you with useful information regarding your community’s perception and knowledge of the problem at hand as well as efforts being done to combat the problem. You may even discover other ways of addressing an issue or problem that had not crossed your mind or learn about certain barriers that exist in your community.

Depending on the level of readiness of your community, you can then make a decision on the specific project and strategies your community would respond to and which ones would prove to be unsuccessful.

It takes a village!

M2Effective prevention efforts rely on community partnerships and collaboration. It is always important to continue to strengthen those partnerships and look for ways to work together and not recreate the wheel.

At GUIDE, we could not accomplish all of our goals and strategies without the help from our partners!

Which brings us to this perfect example:

This month we have been conducting our Sticker Shock campaign, where we go into stores around Gwinnett County that sell alcohol and place warning stickers on their alcohol packages, warning glass clings on their doors, and provide them with warning posters. These warning messages remind adults not to provide alcohol to those under 21 and the consequences of doing so. We credit much of this campaign’s success to our collaborative partnership with CETPA and CPACS (Center for Pan Asian Community Services). Working together with CETPA and CPACS, we were able to develop consistent messaging in several different languages that we could use to bring awareness about underage drinking.

Cultural Competence at work.

If you take a deeper look, this collaboration allowed us to make even more connections with our community and reach our community’s diverse populations. As we mentioned earlier in the SPF Series Kickoff, it is important that you always practice Cultural Competence in your prevention work. By working with our partners, we have established relationships with people of different cultures in our community and are able to continually improve our efforts in serving those specific populations.


Take a look at the resources and partners in your community and start asking the question, “How can we work together?”

Continue to our next SPF blog series post on Planning!

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