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Program Design, Development, and Quality

Let’s GROW! Tips for Program Replication and Expansion

hands holding 2 air horns

Expanded learning programs have gotten a lot of attention in the first part of 2021 – and we deserve it! Funding from federal, state, and local governments is flowing to summer and out-of-school time providers, many of which are poised for large scale growth in the coming year.

Thoughtful, intentional expansion is critical for our field to make the most of this opportunity. So, what should providers keep in mind as they ramp up? Our team at Public Profit helps mission-driven organizations take their programs to scale by creating high quality replication manuals; we use these four tips each time:

Loose versus tight:

Let’s face it, there’s no way to replicate a program precisely as it exists now. And yet, you’ve got something worth replicating, so they have to follow your model somehow. How to manage this tension? One way to get clear about the essential elements of your program is to think about what should be “tight” – common across replication sites no matter what, and what’s “loose” – open to customization and innovation.

Get clear, really clear:

aerial view of a spiral staircaseSuccessful replication manuals don’t just focus on the “what” of the program, but are equally clear about the “why.” And often, that’s so obvious to existing program staff that they don’t take the time to explain it to others. Taking time to understand these implicit assumptions about the program will help you to make a stronger case for the “what” of your program, and better equip your partners to replicate successfully.

Know your audience:

Successful replication manuals are designed with their users in mind. It’s tempting to think that it is enough just to write everything out and ask others to sort through the details to find what they need. That’s incorrect: you are the one who needs to shift your presentation approach, not your partners. When your replication manual is accessible and comfortable, they are more likely to engage with it.

Stay current with live links:

Replication manuals should include links to relevant resources, both within the organization and without. This strategy helps to keep the manual current, since changes to dynamic organizational documents stay up-to-date. This strategy also makes the most of external resources, reducing the time needed to prepare and share the replication manual in the first place!

Want to know more? The book Social Startup Success profiles several mission-driven organizations that have taken their programs to scale. Several of her talks are on YouTube.

For breakfast today, I had bran flakes, fresh blueberries, and coffee.

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