Research and Writing

In addition to providing direct services, the Community Building Institute (CBI) works with clients such as foundations and other nonprofits in major research and writing projects to catalyze projects, capture best practices, and develop guidebooks. Using an extensive library of case studies, a broad and diverse network, and robust conceptual frameworks, CBI is well equipped to provide policy analysis, project design assistance, research reports and other “think tank” services to its clients.

CBI President William Potapchuk's work has often focused on understanding structural and cultural issues that impede effective collaboration and developing strategies to address these challenges. In addition to preparing reports, Potapchuk also has designed policy dialogues and meetings which engage diverse groups of practitioners, community activists, representatives from all levels of governments, nonprofits, and others to help our clients reflect upon and refine their programs and policies.

Potapchuk specializes in developing new syntheses that draw from diverse disciplines, on-the-ground experience, and varied perspectives. Because of his work across numerous issue arenas, Potapchuk often finds that lessons from one arena can inform another, increasing understanding. CBI's research efforts are often concretely linked to dissemination and diffusion strategies that move findings into practice.


Federal Transit Administration. Potapchuk served as lead author for a guide and a facilitator’s handbook designed to help communities engage in a planning process to lead to better coordinated human services transportation systems. Framework for Action: Building the Fully Coordinated Transportation System was distributed throughout the country and serves as a backbone for the federal initiative, United We Ride.

City of Hampton. Hampton, Virginia has been widely recognized and acclaimed for its neighborhood program and youth engagement effort. Potapchuk served as co-author of the the decade-long story of their work, Learning from Neighborhoods: The Story of the Hampton Neighborhood Initiative 1993-2003 and author of a lessons-learned manual, Hampton Neighborhood Initiative: Lessons Learned for Other Communities.

US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Potapchuk served as lead author for two guidebooks that used by second round applicants seeking Empowerment Zone designation. The publications, Building Communities Together: Strategic Planning Guide and Building Communities Together: Performance Management System Guide, draw from lessons from the first round sites, similar initiatives in the foundation community, and evaluations of numerous community level initiatives.

Catalyzing Projects and Writing Plans

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The Community Building Institute, working in partnership with KSA-Plus Communications, was commissioned to write a report which presented research on the lack of the high school and college completion among District of Columbia public high school students in a clear and compelling manner and presented a call to action.

District of Columbia Public Schools. The Community Building Institute, working in partnership with KSA-Plus Communications, has authored major plans that have anchored a turnaround process. They included the strategic plan, Declaration of Education: Keeping our Promise to our District’s Children, and the education plan, All Students Succeeding: A Master Education Plan for a System of Great Schools.

Envision Greater Washington. Envision Greater Washington, a multi-sector initiative driven the Greater Washington Board of Trade, the Community Foundation of the National Capital Region, and the Community Foundation of the National Capital Region, developed recommendations to the community and the respective governing boards. The Community Building Institute served as lead author for Envision Greater Washington: Moving our Region Forward. Together. Now.

Harvesting Best Practices

William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The Hewlett Foundation commissioned the Community Building Institute to write a guide for grantmakers that drew from their lessons in supporting conflict resolution and collaboration in communities. The resulting guide, Community Development: A Guide for Grantmakers on Fostering Better Outcomes through Good Process, was distributed by the Foundation and the Neighborhood Funders Group.

Food and Consumer Services. Potapchuk, as the culmination of two years of technical assistance to ten sites focused on collaborative approaches to nutrition education, wrote an article summarizing the lessons learned for the nutrition education field’s leading peer-reviewed journal. The article, "Collaborative Approach to Nutrition Education in Schools and Communities: Exploring the Lessons" identified lessons for future efforts at the community level and offered policy recommendations for USDA.

National Association of Regional Councils. In partnership with the National Association of Regional Councils, Potapchuk served as a project director for commissioned research to identify best practices in public participation and collaboration for transportation planning. The resulting Federal Transit Administration Policy Document, Working Together on Transportation Planning helps Metropolitan Planning Organizations better manage their mandate for public participation under Federal law. It is on the web at

Textbooks. Potapchuk, with co-authors, has written chapters for three of the major textbooks in the fields of consensus building, collaboration and deliberative democracy. Chapters can be found in The Deliberative Democracy Handbook: Strategies for Effective Citizen Engagement in the 21st Century (Peter Levine and John Gastil, eds.), The Collaborative Leadership Fieldbook, (David Chrislip, ed.), and Consensus Building Handbook (Lawrence Susskind and Sarah McKearnan, eds.)