Courses

Strategies for Success

A Short Course for Project Directors

This three-day hands-on course will provide project directors with financial management, strategic planning, and communication skills and tools they need to make their project or program more successful and financially sustainable.  Expert faculty will use lectures, group work, discussions, and case studies to:Two participants enjoy a conversation while seated at a table together during a strategies for success meeting.

  • Provide tools and tips that participants will use to assess their project and develop an action plan;
  • Introduce essential strategies for effective communication with stakeholders; and
  • Provide guidance and best practices to help participants succeed as they innovate and add value to their projects.

Upcoming Dates :

  • June 12-14, 2019 in New Haven, CT. We are excited to co-locate the course with the 3rd Annual Digital Data in Biodiversity Research Conference, hosted by the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History in collaboration with iDigBio of the Florida Museum of Natural History. Registration open now!
  • October 15-17, 2019 in Fort Collins, CO at the USGS Powell Center. Registration open now!

Who should attend?


Ideal applicants include Directors and Principal Investigators of biological infrastructure projects (such as digital data resources, museum and living stocks collections, field stations, and marine laboratories).  Their resource must have direct relevance to the biological research community, and the applicant should be able to express their need and preparedness for training in business planning and communication.  Up to 24 participants will be selected based on these qualities, and to ensure an appropriate mix of project and participant diversity.

Course fee:

Your course fee of $849 includes all course materials, plus lunches and refreshments during the three course days. The course fee does not include accommodation and other meals (which participants can purchase onsite at modest cost), or travel to and from the course.

Colleague discount:

Participants find it invaluable to attend our training in pairs – that way, you can have a brainstorming partner during the course, and you can help keep each other accountable as you implement your action plan.

Here’s how the discount works: bring a colleague from the same project or program, and the second course fee will be reduced by $200!  Colleague discount is only applicable to pairs (2). Please email Emily at emily@esa.org to access the colleague discount.

Our training approach:

We believe in learning by doing.  Our ultimate goal is for you to come away from the Strategies for Success course with an action plan and enhanced skills to improve your project’s sustainability.  Our faculty will present key concepts in course lectures, but you will spend most of your time in discussions with each other and working through relevant case studies and group assignments.

What to expect:

Throughout this course, you will have ample opportunities to engage with our expert faculty.  We also expect participants to learn and share a lot with each other during group activities. Please come prepared to share your own challenges, success stories, and lessons learned.

We will also ask you to do a little advance preparation so you can hit the ground running. Don’t worry – it’s nothing too onerous. You’ll be asked to read one of our case studies in advance, prepare a mini-pitch for the first day, and to bring along your project or program’s recent financial statements and annual report. During the course, you’ll also need to do a little work in your spare time to prepare your pitch for the final day of the course (see Session 10).

Course outline:

SessionWhat You Will Learn and Do
Day One:
Session 1: Introduction (early morning)
  • Give a mini-pitch to introduce yourself and your project;
  • Discuss your goals and objectives for attending the course;
  • Learn about your fellow participants
Session 2: Evaluate Your Current Sustainability (late morning)
  • Examine aspects of both financial and program sustainability;
  • Identify your project's business lines and their profitability and mission impact
Session 3: Finance 101 (early afternoon)
  • Learn how to analyze and communicate financial information to a variety of audiences;
  • Define a financially sustainable project;
  • Determine the financial health of your project and assess strengths and vulnerabilities
Session 4: Create Your Business Model Canvas (late afternoon)
  • Learn how to use the Business Model Canvas;
  • Create a Business Model Canvas for your own project or program
Day Two:
Session 5: Rethink Your Mission, Vision, and Future Activities (early morning)
  • Learn how to evaluate the mission and vision of your project or program;
  • Learn to use the Kellogg Logic Model as a planning and prioritization tool;
  • Plan out your project's future activities using the Kellogg Logic Model
Session 6: Measure Your Success (late morning)
  • Evaluate strategies to monitor and document project use;
  • Identify key performance indicators for your project; Discuss ways to communicate project success effectively
Session 7: Analyze Your Stakeholders (early afternoon)
  • Discuss the relationships among stakeholder analysis, communication, and financial sustainability;
  • Use a framework to conduct a stakeholder and marketing analysis for your own project
Session 8: Communicate Effectively (late afternoon)
  • Learn how to strategically communicate with different audiences;
  • Learn how to use some common marketing tips and tools;
  • Develop and present an "elevator speech," and receive feedback from other participants
Day Three:
Session 9: Harness Private Funds (morning)
  • Analyze your project for private funding potential;
  • Learn how to make federal grant proposals into private foundation proposals;
  • Discuss the possibilities of licensing and commercial partnerships
Session 10: Make the pitch (afternoon)
  • Practice pitching an idea to course participants and faculty who will play the role of potential funders;
  • Receive feedback on the content, style, and delivery of your pitch

How to apply:

Registration is open for both courses!

Spring Course: All registration will be handled through the Digital Data Conference page. Please note that you may register for the SBI Course, the Conference, or both.

A $50 discount will be offered to those who apply to both the conference and the course! We will also be offering our popular colleague discount for the SBI Course: bring a colleague that is working on the same project and save $200! Please email Emily at emily@esa.org to access this discount.

While the registration deadline is May 17, 2019, we highly encourage attendees to apply early, space is limited!

Fall Course: Please visit our How To Apply page to view instructions, or go right to our participant information form to apply now!

If you have questions at any point, please contact Emily Mastrianni, ESA Science Programs Specialist at sbi@esa.org

What our alumni say:

“Diversifying approaches to funding is important, and I have learned valuable skills that will help with this – not just the sources themselves, but approaches to communication and establishing partnerships as well.”

“I hoped for practical information about how to diversify my funding base, and my expectations were certainly met.”

“I feel more equipped to take an organized approach to managing my facility… the team of instructors, advisers, and guest speakers was phenomenal.”

“I learned a huge amount about private funding.”

Strategies for Success:  Mini-Courses

We can adapt sections of our Strategies for Success course to offer skills training in a variety of formats. If you are interested in having us conduct a full or half-day workshop in conjunction with your meeting or conference, please reach out to us!