About the Organization
Thrive Support & Advocacy, Inc. (formerly Greater Marlboro Programs, Inc.) empowers youth and adults with developmental disabilities to focus on ability and discover opportunities to shine. Through unparalleled programs, proactive philosophy, and unfailing commitment to the participants and families that Thrive serves, the organization helps create lives filled with happiness, meaning, and pride.
In 2015, Thrive was looking to develop a five-year strategic plan that would allow sustainable growth in the face of uncertain funding and service expectations. Thrive wanted to engage the Board in a planning process that would include input from all stakeholders.
How ESC Helped
The six-month project had three phases: environmental analysis, strategic planning, and implementation planning. The first phase involved analyzing Thrive’s current activities, reputation in the community, and stakeholder needs and satisfaction. Through interviews, surveys and meetings with key stakeholders, ESC gathered and analyzed data in order to answer two key questions: “Where are you now?” and “Where do you want/need to go to achieve your mission?”
In the second phase, the environmental scan data was used to inform the committee’s SWOT (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats) analysis. The consultants then facilitated a series of exercises to assist Thrive’s strategic planning committee in articulating Thrive’s mission and vision. During a scenario and visioning workshop facilitated by the consultants, the vision was translated into goals for the organization, which were then consolidated in three categories: create a sustainable funding model for different scenarios; develop a housing model for compliant housing; and develop provisioning of services to maintain compliance. For each category, a team was formed consisting primarily of the client staff and board members, supported by an ESC consultant. These teams initiated the last phase of the project: developing strategies and tactics to achieve each goal.
The project provided value to the client in multiple ways:
- Set the stage for a major rebranding and redirection to an agency that is entrepreneurial, innovative, and that creatively meets the needs of their clients.
- Developed a vision that is consistent with the client’s mission and core values.
- Provided a road map to help the client achieve their vision and achieve financial sustainability.
- Provided a rich source of information via the environmental scan to guide implementation and evaluate progress.
In 2016, Michael Rodrigues joined Thrive as the new President and CEO. The information in the environmental scan provided Rodrigues with insight into the organization and accelerated his learning curve as he took on this new role leading the organization.
With the work ESC did as a guide, Thrive created a one-page strategic plan that the staff uses to manage the organization from year-to-year. The plan contains mission, strategies for success, five-year objectives (SMART goals), and action items for the current year. The action items are updated each year.
In the past three years, the organization did a complete rebrand, renaming the agency from Greater Marlboro Programs to Thrive Support & Advocacy. This new branding reflects a culture shift – to being entrepreneurial and innovative while creating programs that are sustainable. Thrive also overhauled their development strategy. Much of their funding had come from the MA Department of Developmental Services (MA DDS). Thrive developed the relationship into a partnership which has resulted in a 25% growth in state funding. By developing key relationships in the community, the organization has focused on long-term “friendraising” to amplify fundraising. Thrive has also expanded their lines of service to include more programs focused on youth. This is a personal passion of Rodrigues’ because “the earlier we can intervene, the more doors we can open for the individual.”