By: Todd Cohen, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Maher & Maher 
The opening and closing plenaries of the Sustainability Virtual Institute tackled a core grant question: how can we best position our TechHire program for long-term (post-grant) success? The Golden Circle was introduced as a framework for how grantees might approach this sustainability. Developed by Simon Sinek, The Golden Circle is a leadership concept that provides insight into how organizations and leaders think, act, and communicate.  According to Sinek, most organizations do not know why their customers select their services.  However, successful organizations communicate their value using three questions that make up the Golden circle:
  • The WHAT ring, the outer ring, of the Golden Circle represents the products or services a company sells.
  • The HOW, or middle ring, is an explanation of what the company does. In this ring of the Golden Circle, the company explains why their products/ services are better or stand out from the competition.
  • The WHY, or inner ring, is about what a company believes in, not about making a profit


The premise behind the Golden Circle is that inspired and influential companies communicate from the inside out rather than outside in. Above is the representation of Sinek’s theory applied to Apple.

The TechHire Sustainability Planning Template is modeled after this concept as it asks grantees to identify their own TechHire What, How, and Why—and then develop clear strategies and steps to get there.

Clackamas Community College (OR) and Polk State College (FL) have already started using this model and the template.

In Clackamas’ case, they utilized the TechHire Sustainability Planning Template to lay out their “Why”, “What” and “How”, as shown below:

Polk State also utilized the Sustainability Action Plan by establishing which of their program innovations they want to sustain beyond the life of their grant.

Now is your time! As seasoned grant recipients know, grant “sustainability” planning is not an add-on activity undertaken in the waning months of grant closeout. Rather, sustainability planning should be a central part of day-to-day grant implementation so that when the money is gone, the built programs will last.

Please download the template and begin your sustainability strategies! For more details and information, check in with your TA coach.