Connected Community: A Trauma Informed Community Engagement Toolkit

In 2016, the New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC) began a Sustainable Communities Initiative partnership with Impact Services and the Philadelphia Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). Their initial goal was to work with residents to design a training curriculum that could teach community members about the impacts of trauma and how to deal with it effectively—both as individuals and as a community. 

Curriculum co-design
In July 2017, with funding from the Thomas Scattergood Behavioral Health Foundation, LISC Philadelphia, and NeighborWorks America, NKCDC and Impact Services began a series of workshops led by trained trauma-informed consultants Mike O’Bryan of the Village of Arts and Humanities, Dr. Sandra Bloom, and Joe Foderaro. The workshops were attended by residents and staff, and covered topics such as toxic stress, types of safety, and the SELF (Safety, Emotion, Loss, Future) framework. 

Because of the enthusiasm and command of trauma-informed principles that the neighborhood participants demonstrated during the co-design process, the curriculum shifted to a “train the trainer” model. NKCDC, Impact Services and neighborhood residents agree that people living in the community are best positioned to communicate trauma-informed concepts and make sure the program is sustainable. 

The Connected Community: A Trauma Informed Community Engagement Toolkit aims to improve the quality and effectiveness of community-based work in neighborhoods that experience high levels of trauma. The curriculum is designed to both teach participants about trauma and to build the skills necessary for them to lead workshops of their own. The toolkit is free and accessible at