Northwestern Community Development Corps (NCDC) is a student-run organization that seeks to engage students in community development at Northwestern University, in Evanston, and throughout Chicago. We promote civic engagement through direct service, social awareness, and advocacy. Utilizing existing skills, talents, and abilities, we strive to build mutually beneficial relationships, enriching both our campus and the communities, while forming a foundation for the future.


NCDC began as Northwestern Volunteer Network (NVN), founded in the Spring of 1988 by five community service organizations at Northwestern who saw the need for a focal point for volunteerism at Northwestern. The decision to create NVN involved a leap of faith on the part of many leaders and their organizations, as the identities and the programming of the five existing grassroots organizations were merged into a larger whole. Though it was feared that this merger would impersonalize the efforts of the original five organizations, the students involved in the transitional process realized that with the centralization of these efforts a community service movement could be created at Northwestern which would involve large numbers of students from all walks of life.

Inherent to this vision of a community service movement at Northwestern were several factors including:

  • The desire to make community service an important part of the Northwestern experience by creating the opportunity for students to get easily involved
  • The belief that community service is a valuable educational experience for students
  • The hope that students exposed to social problems beyond the bounds of Northwestern’s campus would seek long-term lasting solutions to those problems in their present situation and in the future
  • The exercise of community service as a common ground for isolated factions of the Northwestern community and the ultimate creation of a community service center on campus with staff persons to help run the organization

When this organization changed from NVN to NCDC, more than the name changed. A fundamental shift occurred in the type of community service that we chose to advocate. Traditionally, volunteers have participated in deficiency-based community service. However, we thought there was a better way to volunteer—to participate in asset-based community development (ABCD).

What is Asset-Based Community Development about?

  • Examining the community’s assets
  • Examining the site’s assets
  • Examining the volunteers’ assets

Community service should not simply look to “fix” problems. Community service should be about building relationships in a community and using those relationships to pool together the community’s resources. Once this is done, the community will be much better at rebuilding itself.

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