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Planning for Sustainability

Increasing the sustainability capacity of a program takes time. Center TRT recommends that practitioners in state and community-level chronic disease prevention programs begin to devote time to building capacity within their programs now, no matter the stage of the program lifecycle. It is never too early to plan for sustainability. When possible, integrate sustainability planning into the program's annual progress reporting procedures. The Program Sustainability Assessment Tool  can help programs identify areas where they need to increase their sustainability capacity across eight organizational and contextual domains.

In the field of public health, sustainability is defined as the capacity to maintain program services at a level that provides ongoing prevention and treatment for a health problem after termination of major financial, managerial, and technical assistance from an external donor.1

Center TRT supports a 3-part sustainability planning process that programs can use to build the sustainability capacity of their program early on, when funding is not being threatened, and will likely increase their program's capacity for sustainability.

  • First, you must understand the factors that influence a program's capacity for sustainability.   Use the eight domains from the Program Sustainability Framework, available here as a guide.  
  • Next, you must assess your specific program's capacity for sustainability. Select a group of stakeholders and staff to complete the web-based Sustainability Assessment tool available to you free of charge.  
  • After you review the results of the assessment and select priority areas which your program would like to focus on, you must develop an action plan to increase the sustainability capacity of the program. See the Program Sustainability Action Planning Template as a guide.

1  LaPelle N, Zapka J, Ockene J.   Sustainability of Public Health Programs: The Example of Tobacco Treatment Services in Massachusetts. Am J Public Health. 2006 August; 96(8): 1363—1369. doi:  10.2105/AJPH.2005.067124