Getting Started With Building Relationships

“Who else should we involve in community-level change?”

Relationships drive the work of community change forward. You are working to build relationships with a central team right now, but what about building relationships outside of your team? You need funding, resources, volunteers, and other assistance as you move through executing projects.  

The work of building relationships needs to happen before asking for something from organizations or individuals–your goal is to cultivate long-term and authentic partnerships while identifying what is important to community decision-makers, potential funders, and volunteers.  

In order to build strong relationships with others, you need to understand how you work with others. Continuing to learn more about yourself is important as these relationships develop. 


Activities: Choose 2-3 activities to complete to identify common interests and build relationships with your team. You’ll be tempted to jump straight into the work, but understanding what matters to others on your team and how they work best is important to your long-term success. Take your time with the activities; they aren’t intended to be completed in one sitting. 


  • Power Trading CardsTaking information that you garnered from your one-on-one conversations, complete this activity to have a quick reference within your community of what stakeholders consider to be important assets.  


  • Enneagram Personality Test – The Enneagram is a personality typing test that focuses on how you interact with others and what you find important. Take this quiz individually and then discuss your findings and results with your team. Identify who among the team is best at reaching out to new people and who is best at maintaining relationships.

  • My Community WishlistUsing the Community Wishlist from Lesson 1.3: Getting Started With Others, add a fourth column that identifies who exactly in the community cares about each of the items on the wishlist to better show the importance of these items.


Here’s your chance to take some time to think and reflect on your dreams and interests. Keep a community building journal, scribble notes on some post-its, or simply think about these questions before moving on to the next lesson!

  • Reflecting on your Enneagram type (1-9), identify your strengths and weaknesses with relationship-building tasks (For example, Enneagram 2s tend to be people pleasers).

  • What are specific tasks in your community that volunteers could assist with completing?

  • What were you surprised about when conducting the one-on-one conversations exercise?

Community Development in Action

MacKenzie Walker is a community leader in Matewan, WV who utilizes the power of relationship development to harness resources and funding for the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum. Through building powerful partnerships, the City of Matewan has completed a series of small wins and met goals through a community development process, leading to larger projects currently underway. Learn more about what’s happening in Matewan in this video.

Watch this HubCAP video highlighting Matewan and their amazing work!

Ready to keep going?

Cultivate WV

The Cultivate WV program supports community capacity building through leadership
development, team development, and small-scale community projects. Our goal is to help your community create long-term engagement from residents and new opportunities for community
leadership, all while building positive momentum for your area. We offer community coaching;
workshops; funding for community projects; and leadership development opportunities.

Cultivate communities commit to a year-long entry-level community engagement process
where they participate in monthly workshops focused on different subjects such as community
engagement, team building and dynamics, project identification, prioritization and planning,
grant writing, leadership development and communications.

How This Program Makes a Difference

As a result of this program, participants experience a greater sense of connection to their community, a sense of positive momentum happening in their neighborhoods and towns, and increased pride in place. Residents participate in facilitated community-wide discussions where they have an opportunity to talk about what they love about their communities, why they choose to live in their communities, and why others should want to live in their community. They also have the opportunity to talk about the challenges they are facing and solutions to address them.

Workshops and facilitated discussions are paired with seed funding to implement small-scale community projects. Communities are expected to develop at least two dozen separate project teams, engaging multiple new leaders and helping to break down traditional silos.

Community coaching and support is offered to community teams to ensure that projects are carried out successfully. Participating communities have been successful in building teams, prioritizing projects, writing and submitting grant applications, and implementing 69 community projects. Examples of projects include art murals, flowers along main street, farmers markets, First Friday events, business after hours, community gardens, youth engagement events, and more.

Cultivate WV supports community members coming together to make a difference in their towns while providing the resources and training needed to help residents build their individual leadership skills and keep the work going into the future.

For more wins and milestones coming out of the Cultivate WV program, see our “Stories” section below.

This Program is Ideal for…

The Cultivate WV Program is ideal for communities who are interested in making a change, but are unsure how to get started. The program helps community members learn how to work together, how to engage others in the work, how to build a vision for their community, how to identify, prioritize and implement projects and how to make it all sustainable.

Cultivate WV is an entry level community engagement program. The community should have some key community leaders identified to help start the process, but the community coach will help recruit other people to engage in the process and support the community with building out the teams to move the work forward. The community coach will also work with the community members to identify specific workshops or trainings that would be beneficial for the community to participate in.

Get Involved

If you are a member of a Cultivate Community and want to get involved, if you are interested in
becoming a Cultivate Community, or if you are funder that is interested in learning more about
the program, contact program lead Amanda Workman Scott at

Current Participating Communities

Past Participating Communities

*Program was previously called Turn This Town Around

Cultivate WV Stories

Resources & How-To

How to Host First Friday Events in Your Community

Are you working to bring energy into your community? Do you want to see more people in your downtown spaces? Are there a number of local craftspeople, artists, farmers, and other entrepreneurs in your region that you’d like to bring together?

Read More »