We had great success getting kids interested in our program, but our work didn’t end there. We had to think carefully and creatively about sustainability, from both a programmatic and financial perspective.
From a program perspective, we wanted kids to stay involved in our Start Strong efforts long-term. We didn’t want them just moving on after finishing one set of activities or trainings. So, we created a wide range of activities that could build on one another and create a “continuum of engagement.” For example, we developed a leadership pipeline that kids could move along as they completed more of our programming and became more dedicated. They became invested and our program became more sustainable because of that.
From a financial perspective, we knew the funding support we had received initially to start our Start Strong program would end, so we needed to begin developing a financial sustainability plan. We knew we would not be able to find funding to continue every aspect of our Start Strong programming. So, we prioritized finding funding for the elements that had been the most successful and would keep the core of our work sustainable.
We focused on maintaining our Youth Leaders program, through which we train college students to teach our teen dating violence curriculum in middle schools, because that in-school work was so important. Fortunately, we secured AmeriCorps support for it. Having that capacity and those resources has allowed us to continue to grow. For example, some local high schools recently asked us to extend our curriculum into their ninth grade classrooms. We’re thrilled to be able to meet that request!