Community Benefits Agreements are a powerful new tool being used by organizations working for economic justice. These agreements help make sure that large-scale developments serve not only the corporations that underwrite them, but also the communities in which the developments are located. The agreements ensure that developments provide quality jobs, community services, local hiring, environmental protections and improvements, affordable housing, and a voice for the community in the development process.

This communications toolkit is intended to give advocates, grassroots organizers, policy specialists, community leaders, and their allies the tools they need to shape public opinion.


Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) are enforceable agreements between community groups and developers seeking to address a broad range of community needs. They ensure community participation in shaping major developments and help shift the public discussion on economic development so that it meets the needs of working families.

As community benefits work deepens and spreads, one of the biggest challenges facing advocates is communications—how we publicly convey the goals of the work and the values that inform it. The challenge is also a valuable opportunity, a chance for advocates to define and mold this movement to reflect our values.

The community benefits movement is also empowering working people. It gives them the context, language, and tools to organize and advocate for living-wage jobs, affordable housing, and involvement in the development of their own neighborhoods. The next step is to leverage community benefits into a broader movement for fair and responsible development. Communications has a critical role in shaping that work.

The toolkit is organized in three parts. Part I focuses on framing and messaging, including tailoring messages to your audience, examples of good framing and sample messages. Part II contains case studies of three CBA campaigns. Part III provides a sample press release, a sample op-ed essay, and a communications plan.