Community-level programs are often at a loss when their funding ends. How can they continue to offer services to clients? What aspects of their programs should they work hardest to sustain?
To help program directors plan for and respond at this critical juncture, EDC’s National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention has created “Leaving a Legacy,” a resource that offers advice, planning tools, and resources. The National Center’s clientele include the more than 200 school districts and communities that receive grants from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“’Sustainability is a federal theme—everyone talks about it,” says Sue Vargo, who led the team that developed the site. By sustainability, she means “a process of identifying the positive outcomes of a program and figuring out how to keep them operating in a community.”
The national center realized that some of the grantees were not sure about how to lay a foundation for sustainability. “We saw that people might not be clear about what it is and how to do it. One of the biggest problems for a program that wants to find a way to continue its work is that they have to sift through a huge number of resources that are available,” says Vargo. “So rather than inventing our own ‘brand’ of sustainability, we decided to provide a framework or guide to the materials that already exist. There are some excellent resources available.”
The Legacy Web site is very practical and task-oriented, she says. It is designed for people who are both new and experienced with federal grants, for large and small programs, and for practitioners with varying amounts of time to get the job done. “There are very few federal dollars to devote to prevention and mental health work. So it is imperative that the communities that do receive funding have every opportunity to make a lasting change.”
The materials, contained in a subsection of www.promoteprevent.org, are organized as a “wheel” of information. They offer material on strategic planning, evaluation, partnership and collaboration, capacity building, communications and marketing, public policy, financing, and leadership. The “wheel” also features a self assessment tool and profiles grantees and successful models.
Originally published on December 1, 2004