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Creating Sustainable Healthy Communities

In collaboration with funded communities and partners, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Healthy Communities Program is developing a Sustainability Planning Guide for communities. The purpose of this guide is to facilitate communities, community leaders, and other public and community health professionals to develop a sustainability plan and learn key sustainability approaches like policies, partnerships, organizational strategies, and communication plans. Also, the guide provides a process for sustaining policy strategies and related activities, introduces various approaches to sustainability, and demonstrates sustainability planning in action with real-life examples.

Photo: A man with fresh produce.What is Sustainability?

Sustainability is a community's ongoing capacity and resolve to work together to establish, advance, and maintain effective strategies that continuously improve health and quality of life for all. For every healthy community, sustainability is the end goal. It is never too late to work on sustainability, yet it works best if sustainability plans are created at the beginning stages of coalition development. Sustainability provides an infrastructure to identify and address community health challenges. It helps a community make the best use of the resources it has and makes it possible to leverage resources for future activity. As part of the sustainability process, developing a plan is critical. A plan helps—

  • Obtain input and buy-in from coalition members and key external decision makers.
  • Identify and organize critical long- and short-term organizational and policy goals within the community and coalition.
  • Acquire resources necessary for implementing policy strategies.
  • Document and organize collected information.

How Can the Sustainability Planning Guide Be Used?

Photo: Children eating fruit.This guide is for anyone interested in working to create sustainable healthy communities. Community leaders; coalition members; national, regional, and local health organizations; state and local health departments; businesses; and non-profits can use the Sustainability Planning Guide to—

  • Develop a hopeful, yet realistic vision of a healthier community.
  • Identify common issues and use local and coalition resources.
  • Connect people, organizations, and current projects to achieve common goals.
  • Anticipate and better prepare for changes in the coalition, organization, resources, or community.
  • Define sustainability, determine how to structure strategy efforts, and identify what parts of the strategy efforts should be sustained.
  • Gauge the effectiveness of the coalition, organization, or community effort during policy strategies development and implementation.
  • Clarify policy strategies and activities in a formal action plan.
  • Develop a sustainability plan for evaluating the effectiveness of the policy efforts.

More Information

  • Page last reviewed: July 25, 2011
  • Page last updated: July 25, 2011
  • Content source:
    • Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs
    • Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs