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Online Community Toolbox a Valuable Resource

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The Community Tool Box is just what it sounds like — a virtual workbench full of useful information for anyone involved in community-based organizing, including substance abuse and gun violence programs.

Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Kansas Health Foundation and the Kansas Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services Commission, the Community Tool Box has been online since 1996. Initially conceived as a distance-learning project to provide the tools needed to build healthier, stronger communities, it soon became apparent that the best way for the project to disseminate information internationally would be via the Internet, according to Tim Brownlee, coordinator for the Community Tool Box at the University of Kansas' Work Group on Health Promotion and Community Development.

The Community Tool Box site contains nuts-and-bolts advice that can be used by the smallest grassroots group or a regional United Way or other big nonprofit. Community-building tools on the site range from advice on advocacy and media relations, to tips on generating and managing resources. Fundraising resources include a proposal-writing guide, and a troubleshooting section covers membership development, communications, handling community resistance, and sustainability issues, among others. The site also includes success stories, a discussion forum, and links to related resources.

Tool Box users include staff of state substance abuse agencies, treatment and prevention programs, and anti-violence groups. “The goal is for any type of organization to be able to use this information,” Brownlee tells Join Together. All of the Community Tool Box resources are available free of charge.

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