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University of Minnesota Extension

Building trust in communities

Understanding and growing social capital

The glue that holds communities together

Diverse group eating a meal

Creating community discussion about social capital makes a difference. When groups know what it is and why it matters, they can create it. And doing so strengthens the community.

Through activities and group discussion, this workshop helps groups move to action. Groups will understand:

  • What social capital looks like in communities
  • Three elements that matter to social capital
  • How social capital creates community benefits
  • How to build social capital in everyday ways

What is social capital?

Have you ever stopped to think about what holds your community together? "Community glue" isn't something you can rush out to the local hardware store and buy. You also won't find it online. But if you look closely, you might see it at the grocery store or at your church or even in the newspaper! This "community glue" is known as social capital. Strengthening the social capital of your community helps make people's lives richer.

Assessing social capital

Using 'Our Community' tool

'Our Community' is an assessment tool residents of rural communities can use. It helps give an accurate picture of the social capital in their area. This includes ties and connections among its people and organizations. Extension staff and Yellow Wood Associates designed the tool for rural communities.

Learn how to assess your community's social capital

Social capital video and audio clips

Learn more about social capital and what it looks like in communities from four video and one audio clip. These clips instruct and demonstrate how the lives of community residents are enriched by a high level of social capital.


Consult with us

Community economics • Leadership and civic engagement • Tourism

Extension educators work in communities with partners throughout Minnesota. Contact us for consultation, guidance and conversation about your community.

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