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How to Ensure Sustainability

“These times call on all of us--as individuals, as parents, and as educators and policymakers—to give more than we thought we were able to give...we must look to the great wisdom of those who enshrined in our Constitution the commitment to a system of common public schools as the highest priority of our government...”

—Jack O'Connell, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction


Evaluation is the process of determining whether programs, or certain aspects of programs, are appropriate, adequate, effective, and efficient—and if not, how to make them so. Periodically evaluating any partnership is important to highlight what is working well and what modifications need to be made. Sustainability, in terms of a partnership, means the ability to continue—to maintain the goals and outcomes of that partnership. Evaluation and sustainability are entwined and are two elements of a partnership that should be planned for from the outset. Ongoing evaluation is important to continuously improve any partnership and increase its sustainability. Information about the partnership, its outcomes, and positive evaluations should be publicized. Others in the community should be aware of the partnership's success, and supportive data should be available. Spreading the word about positive evaluations helps generate support for the partnership and garners more participation from the community, adding to its sustainability.

Partnerships evolve and change over time. The policies, procedures, and infrastructure that are developed at the beginning of a partnership may need to change to reflect the partnership's lessons learned, changing focus, new partners, etc. Partnerships dedicated to closing the achievement gap will need to review achievement data on an ongoing basis in order to assess their efforts. Flexibility will be important as data are analyzed and activities are adjusted accordingly.

Resources & Tools

ARCHES Raising Student Achievement Through Effective Education Partnerships (PDF)
This report on seven successful regional partnerships includes information on "Essential Elements of Successful Partnerships" and "Policy Recommendations."

Center for Community School Partnerships, UC Davis, Community School Partnerships Toolkit
Section 5, "Linking Strategies to Results"

Section 6, "Measuring Progress and Evaluating Results"

Section 7, "Sustainability and Marketing"

The Community Toolbox: Bringing Solutions to Light
Part J: Evaluating Community Programs and Initiatives (Chapters 36–39)

Part K: Maintaining Quality and Rewarding Accomplishments (Chapters 40–41)

Part L: Generating, Managing and Sustaining Financial Resources (Chapters 42–44)

Part M: Social Marketing and Institutionalization of the Initiative (Chapters 45–46)

The Finance Project, Making the Match: Finding Funding for After School Education and Safety Programs, October 15, 2007 (PDF)
This guide helps California After School Education and Safety (ASES) grantee and program leaders fill gaps in funding by presenting four strategies for generating matching funds.