Organizations that implement SNAP-Ed interventions can only deliver benefits if they are able to sustain activities over time. Sustaining these investments and services becomes critical if they are to effectively address the nutrition and physical activity needs of SNAP-Ed constituents.
Background and Context
There is no single formula or answer to the sustainability challenge. However, creating a written sustainability plan will provide a road map to guide you and your partners as you work on sustainability efforts. A sustainability plan is a written document that describes the priorities and action steps that will be taken to ensure the long-term sustainability of a SNAP-Ed intervention or initiative. The plan should reflect the input and engagement of partners (ST7), champions (ST6), and other critical stakeholders who have been engaged in the intervention and can develop long-term buy-in and support for continued intervention activities and efforts. Once a sustainability plan has been developed and implemented, monitoring of the plan should occur with a focus on which activities are being conducted and whether benchmarks and targets are being met.
Strong plans can determine success in sustaining interventions in specific settings. When developing a sustainability plan, be sure that it addresses critical components of sustainability and is comprehensive. Strong sustainability plans should address the following questions:
- Are benchmarks/targets established to indicate sustainability success?
- Are there implementation mechanisms identified for the sustainability of the setting or intervention?
- Are roles and responsibilities assigned to implement the plan?
- Is funding attached?
- Is there a time line identified for achieving sustainability?
- Does the plan identify a monitoring system for tracking success?
What to Measure
Next, develop and implement a sustainability plan. A number of resources are available to assist with plan development and implementation (please see Resources section).
Once a sustainability plan has been developed and implemented, monitor it to determine the following:
- Are benchmarks and targets being met?
- Are partners and other stakeholders continuing to support the intervention?
Monitoring should occur at regular intervals to determine progress and identify areas for improvement. Conduct a review of the plan’s progress on a regular basis.
Surveys and Data Collection Tools
The Sustainability Assessment Tool has undergone reliability testing and can be used by programs in a variety disciplines and settings to understand and plan for sustainability. The Center TRT website includes the tool and other resources that can assist in the planning and development of sustainability plans.
The CDC Healthy Communities Sustainability Planning Guide provides step-by-step instructions for developing a sustainability plan.
Georgia State University has developed a sustainability framework and self-assessment tool that describes nine areas of strategy, capacity, and action that help to position an organization or program for sustainability. This framework and assessment tool can assist SNAP-Ed settings in determining critical components of a sustainability plan and can help assess a program’s level of readiness for sustainability
AmeriCorps has developed a toolkit to assist in the development of a program that is sustainable, builds organizational and local capacity, and has the full involvement of community volunteers. It will lead you through the processes for developing a sustainability and capacity building plan and applying a variety of methods, approaches and strategies to carry out that plan.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Adolescent Health (OAH) developed this framework on sustainability for grantees. It is one tool in a series of sustainability resources aimed to support grantees in planning for their long-term success.
Key Glossary Terms
Additional Resources or Supporting Citations