Thrive Support & Advocacy

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.”

Other featured Client Stories:
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  • Maverick Landing Community Services
  • White Horse Recovery Client Success Story
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    In 2017, Chica Project reached out to ESC as the organization was looking at ways to reach more girls by expanding its programs and services.
  • Rockingham Nutrition and Meals on Wheels
    RNMOW contacted ESC to help the organization develop new branding and messaging to better reflect the broader goals of the mission and change the perception that the organization simply delivers food to the needy.
  • Ausbon Sargent Land Preservation Trust
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    Creating a new script for the leadership of a regional theatre company.
  • Seacoast Science Center
    ESC makes a splash in giving new life to the Seacoast Science Center.
  • Talking Information Center
    Facing changes to their government funding source, TIC turned to ESC to help develop a new strategic plan to grow revenue, strengthen the board, and help them prepare for a leadership transition.
  • White Birch Community Center
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  • Cambridge Community TV
    Channeling Success at a nationally recognized award-winning community media center, CCTV partnered with ESC to carry out a series of planning and operational projects over a five year period.
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness New Hampshire
    ESC developed strategic initiatives to raise awareness for mental health and ultimately improving the lives of others.
  • Harbor Homes
    ESC was the catalyst for change as Harbor Homes incorporated new technological initiatives to better meet their mission of providing services to the homeless and mentally ill.
  • Squam Lakes Natural Sciences Center
    ESC helped SLNSC explore opening a nature preschool to expand their ability to reach young children and possibly to provide additional income within the context of the organization’s mission.
  • Family Continuity
    ESC worked with Family Continuity to strengthen its Board and set the stage for a new strategic planning process, leading to financial stability and sustainability for the future.
See our complete FY 16 and FY 17 client list here.