Sustainable Strategy Programs

Don't miss this opportunity.

Matt Pieper, Executive Director, Open Hand, Atlanta (testimonial)

Sustainable Strategy programs
achieve powerful mission impact and bottom-line results. Subscribing to Michael Porter's advice that "the essence of strategy is choosing what not to do" (1996) and built upon Mark Light's Results Now book, the right answers come from five questions: 


Instead of the typical approach to strategy making that can be pie-in-the-sky unrealistic or down-in-the-depths pedestrian, a Sustainable Strategy program strikes the right balance by focusing on two primary elements:



A unique, clear and engaging style that is both beautiful to experience and results oriented.

Paul Plate, Former Executive Director, Positive Impact (testimonial)


The Sustainable Strategy program is a powerful action learning program, which "involves taking action and reflecting upon the results." Unlike the one-off classroom method that suffers from transfer of training problems, action learning builds long-term capacity by having three or four top-level people (executive director, program manager, finance person, etc.) work together over a period of time to build sustainable strategy.


The program has four all-day, hands-on learning sessions spread across an twelve-week period. Between sessions, participants receive teaching, coaching, and training to support their work on specific projects due at the next session (written reports and oral presentations). Other services can be provided as well, including governance training, client focus groups, and one-on-one leadership coaching. The last session is where attendees deliver their final oral presentation and written report that can become their new Strategic Plan.


I would recommend working with Mark Light in ANY capacity.

Yamani Hernandez - Executive Director, Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health (testimonial)


The common approach to strategic planning is to engage a consultant who makes recommendations on what to do next. The Sustainable Strategy program takes a different path in that the best people to make recommendations are those who work in and deeply understand the agency. In addition to addressing your challenges and opportunities plus building lasting capacity, other takeaways include learning how to think strategically and competitively, polishing presentation skills, and building cohesion in your team. Participants have full access to all of the templates, samples, and tools needed to succeed in the program including Mark's comprehensive Sustainable Strategy book (expected in 2018) keyed to the program's agenda.


The Sustainable Strategy program uses the following agenda for deliverables and includes the four on-site training workshops, on-site coaching, and teaching that lead up to your agency's new strategic plan:


What are we doing now?

(1 day)

A. Get Ready

B. Purpose

1. Values

2. Mission

C. Vision

1. Statement

2. Strategies

3. Goals


What could we do next?
(1 day)

A. Vision Statement

1. Ideate

2. Statement

B. Vision Ideas

1. Collect

2. Evaluate


What will we do next?
(1 day)

A. Great Ideas Presentations

B. Great Strategies

1. Build

2. Test

3. Decide

C. Strategic Plan


What will we do today?
(1 day)

A. Strategic Plan Presentations

B. Operations

C. Promoting Strategy

D. Leading Change


All not most, not some of the participants were enthusiastic.
Kathy Palumbo, Director of programs, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta (testimonial)


The Sustainable Strategy program comes in two versions - individual agency or cohort. The individual agency approach gets full-focus from First LIght Group, but it is more expensive. The cohort approach saves costs (up to five agencies can participate) with takeaways that include long-lasting relationships with other like-minded executives where potential collaborations thrive. Another benefit is that cohort agencies present their results to their peers for feedback and enrichment at every session. Providing father value, each agency presents to a panel of respected outsiders including funders at the final session (subject to availability).


Regardless of whether a single agency or cohort, First Light Group provides the same level of support including templates, samples, workbook, and on-site coaching. Like a master class, participants must bring desire and concentration to succeed and quality time outside of the sessions is required to complete the program.   


Funders will often initiate and/or underwrite a Sustainable Strategy program. All Chicago's recent Sustainable Strategy program addressing homelessness was supported by the Chicago Community Trust and concluded with presentations to a panel of influencers. Participating agencies were Family Rescue, La Casa Norte, Near West Side CDC, St. Leonard's Ministries, and Teen Living programs. Learn more by reading the participant evaluations.


The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta wrapped up its program supported by the Elton John AIDS Foundation in September, 2014. Participants included Positive Impact Health Centers, Center for Black Women's Wellness, Project Open Hand, and The Living Room. Learn more by reading participant evaluations.


AIDS Foundation Chicago completed its sustainable strategy program thanks to the Chicago Community Trust in November 2013. Participating agencies were Howard Brown Health, Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health, Project VIDA, Mt. Sinai Infectious Disease, South Side Help Center. Information on outcomes for the agencies is in the summary report.


One of the most valuable training and educational opportunities of my career.
Jim McCarthy, President/CEO, Miami Valley Fair Housing Center (testimonial)


It helped us to apply proven business principles to achieve objectives.
Monique Rucker, HIV Program Manager, Mt. Sinai Hospital (testimonial)

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First Light Group and Putting Your Future Within Reach are Registered Trademarks. 2018. Last modified: February 08, 2019