Strategies for Success

A Short Course for Project Directors

This 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 2021, 3-day face-to-face Strategies for Success (dates TBD)

For information about our October 2020 online Strategies for Success course, please see the online course page. Registration is open!

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 for the October online course based on these qualities, and to ensure an appropriate mix of project and participant diversity.

Course fee:

Online training:

The online course fee of $550 includes access to the SBI learning platform and all course materials, lectures, and recordings for one year.

Face-to-face training:

Your course fee of $850 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 $100!  Colleague discount is only applicable to pairs (2). Please email Jill at sbi@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.

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.

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 for our October 2020 online course is now open. The registration deadline is September 1. We recommend registering early as space is limited.

If you have questions, please contact Maria Sharova, 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!