Sustaining a NORC Program

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Guiding Principle # 6

NORC programs become advocates for state and local legislation that provides stable, long-term funds.

Legislative earmarks for NORC programs tend to be unpredictable and short-lived. Support from foundations, corporations, and other sources, is essential for specific work on targeted issues, but it rarely sustains a program over the long haul. Optimal funding comes instead from legislative mandates that include resources for core staff, infrastructure, and operations, and allow the NORC program model to be widely replicated.

As agents of change, NORC program leaders should begin thinking about making the case for this kind of state and local legislative support early in the development of their own programs. That process begins with thoughtful baby steps and involves continuing outreach to policymakers, community leaders, and legislators. It requires a long-term horizon, clarity of purpose, strong community support, a formal plan for making the case to legislators, and plenty of patience.

There are many persuasive arguments for a legislative commitment. Because they live at the intersection of the public and private sectors, NORC programs help to coordinate activities that are already funded by government sources and to meet federal, state, and local mandates. They also have a valuable role to play in stabilizing communities, increasing social supports for seniors, and addressing community-specific challenges with innovative service design. A NORC program should consider how best to advance these arguments to legislators so that seniors are better positioned to shape the future of their own communities.

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