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Demonstration projects represent the most extensive activities undertaken by the CCED within the community. As the name implies, demonstration projects manifest new problem-solving strategies, technologies, and institutional models in real-life settings. Demonstration projects are innovative applied experiments that attempt to exhibit cutting-edge problem solving strategies with the community while simultaneously building the capacity of the community to sustain this problem solving method if necessary and desired.
Successful demonstration projects may result in new institutional arrangements that are capable of addressing specific community needs over an extended period of time. Demonstration projects sponsored by the CCED are generally implemented through a series of stages, including: conceptualization, resource mobilization, implementation, evaluation and transference to the community. For a demonstration project to be successfully transferred to the community, participation by the community throughout these stages is critical.
Few institutions exist in our society with the capacity and the responsibility to generate and apply new ideas to address community problems. The ability to design experiments based on sound evidence and "best practice" is a unique role generally reserved to institutions like universities. However, universities cannot help communities become self-sufficient by doing for them what they are quite capable of doing for themselves. At the end of a successful demonstration project where the community has been fully engaged in all phases, the continuation of the initiative is well within the capacity of the community. This may result in the creation of a new institution within the community or the reorganization of existing groups. Recent examples of this include such projects as the Michigan Resident Leadership Network (MRLN) and the Food Movers Project in Lansing.