Program Planning

Step 3: Best Practices

Use what's been proven to work. By choosing a program that has been successful in the past, you’ll be spending your resources wisely and improving the chances of instilling change in your community. Focus on programs with similar goals and objectives as yours.
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Step 4: Ensuring Fit

Determine if you can carry out the program. Check to see that you’re not implementing the same program as someone else in your community. Does this program fit with your organization’s goals? Is it appropriate for your community? Make sure you can implement the program with fidelity—meaning you can carry out the essential parts of the program that have made it successful.
Keep in mind that you can make adaptations to the program so that it better fits your community’s needs.
Examples of appropriate adaptations (called "green-light" adaptations):

  • Updating and customizing statistics and other health information.
  • Customizing role play scenarios or other written documents so that they reflect language used by the youth being served.
  • Changing learning activities so that they are more interactive and appealing to different learning styles.
  • Adding debriefing or processing questions.
  • Making learning activities and instructional methods culturally appropriate for your audience.

Examples of inappropriate adaptations (called "red-light" adaptations):

  • Shortening a program—this may reduce impact.
  • Failing to repeat and reinforce key messages prescribed in the curriculum.
  • Replacing interactive activities with lectures or individual work.
  • Reducing or eliminating opportunities for skills practice, or activities that allow youth to personalize risk.
  • Eliminating risk and protective factors.
  • Contradicting, competing with, or diluting program goals.

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Step 5: Capacity

Make sure you have enough people, time, and money to carry out the program.

  • Which staff members will be responsible for carrying out specific activities? Will they need additional training?
  • Is your timeline realistic?
  • Do you have enough money to implement the program? What other funding sources are available?
  • Do you have contacts with other relevant organizations in your community who also interact with your target population? Are they on board?

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Step 6: Create an Implementation Plan

This is your blueprint for putting your program into place. Your implementation plan will allow you to consider important details, identify and address potential problems before they arise, and provide your staff with a clear vision of where your organization is headed.
Your implementation plan should address the following:

  • Who will do the implementation? What tasks must each staff member complete? Who do we expect to attend, and how many?
  • What is our budget? What extra materials, such as pens, paper, internet connection, etc. will we need? What food will be served, if any?
  • When will tasks be completed? When will the program be delivered? How many times will each activity occur?
  • Where will the program take place? In what room and building? Will parking be an issue?
  • Why are tasks being done? Do they align with the program’s goals and objectives? Are they necessary?

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Tips: Recruitment and Retention

With all of this planning in place, there’s no doubt you’ll want people to show up (and come back)!

  • Think like your target audience and consider their (and their guardians’) needs. Where do they like to hang out? Which places are most convenient for them to get to? You may want to consider providing transportation, child care and sibling care, or a parent support event. Also think about how many times you will meet. Will your target audience be willing to meet more than once? Consider their time constraints when choosing a program.
  • Provide incentives. Food is a reliable incentive, especially if you plan your activities during mealtimes. You may consider giving out cash or gift cards upon successful completion of the program. Planners have also used unique experiences, such as field trips, for incentives.
  • Use popular communications technologies. Consider your audience’s use of social media and texting. Ask youth to recruit their friends using these channels (and perhaps provide an incentive for each person they recruit). Traditional methods like flyers and ads in newspapers may work for parents and guardians.

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Next: Program Evaluation