Strengthening Human Services through Social Capital


ASPE has contracted with Research Triangle Institute and the University of North Carolina School of Government for this project, which seeks to understand how local, state, faith-based, and nonprofit human services programs and organizations can create and use social capital to increase employment, reduce poverty, and improve child and family well-being.

Project OverviewThis project uses expert consultations, a program scan, and case studies to better understand how human services organizations help participants build and leverage social capital to improve economic opportunity.

Social Capital Considerations for the Incarcerated and Reentry Population This issue brief summarizes six considerations for organizations working with currently incarcerated or recently released individuals who are interested in improving their participants' outcomes through strengthening their individual social capital. The brief provides specific examples of how these action-oriented considerations are being implemented by four different organizations currently doing this work.

Case Studies – Below are a series of case studies about human services programs that are helping participants build and use social capital in diverse ways. They cover a range of human services domains and have different emphases on bonding, bridging, and linking social capital. These case studies were selected for their focus on incorporating strategies to help participants build and use social capital, and not for other aspects of their programming.

  • Family Independence Initiative – Detroit (PDF) partners with families to form small cohorts that meet regularly to hold each other accountable toward achieving their goals by leveraging their existing social capital, tracking progress through technology, and using small grants from the program;
  • CAP Tulsa (PDF) uses a two-generation approach that intentionally creates opportunities for families to build and use social capital by using a peer-to-peer cohort model that encourages families to connect with each other and develop a peer support network;
  • Roca, Inc. (PDF) “relentlessly” engages high-risk young people in Maryland and Massachusetts to help them tap into new, positive social networks, including with employers in the community;
  • Teen Challenge Arizona (PDF) offers faith-based residential drug and alcohol recovery centers that foster relationships with others going through similar experiences to build and leverage participants’ social capital; and
  • Connections to Success (PDF) helps individuals in the St. Louis and Kansas City, MO regions build lasting social capital ties with their peers and others in the community through the use of one-on-one mentoring and professional development classes to support employment and other goals.

Visit the social capital landing page for more research on this topic.