Capacity Building and Empowerment: A panacea and a challenge for agency-university engagement

Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar
Fabricio Balcazar
Edurne García Iriarte
Tina Taylor-Ritzler


Capacity building is an effective strategy for promoting organizational change and/or improving the quality of social services. In this article I present an empowerment approach to capacity building. In doing so I propose a number of principles that can promote capacity building and collaboration between social service agencies and universities from an empowerment perspective: keeping the control of the capacity building process in the agency; developing competencies that matter to the people in the agency; engaging in supportive roles; maintaining a strengths-based approach to capacity building; focusing on sustainability, institutionalization and utilization of acquired skills; and paying attention to cultural and contextual issues. Further, the challenges and benefits of the empowerment approach to university-agency collaboration are discussed in this article.

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