When a client is in crisis, they feel unsafe and in danger, most of the time. They may be living with others in unsafe conditions, homeless, or threatened with eviction. Their physical and mental health may be very poor and they may even experience suicidal thoughts while grappling with alcohol or substance abuse. Since they have no high school diploma or GED and lack basic skills, it’s hard to find employment. They may rely on others for transportation or they may have a car, but it doesn’t work. They may have legal challenges including outstanding warrants and tickets, could be awaiting trial, or on parole.
Homeless Shelters
Mental Health Crisis Care
Hospital Emergency Care
Law Enforcement
Basic Needs - Food, Clothing, Shelter, Utility Assistance
During transition, the client has found temporary or part time employment and is making ends meet. They have found some kind of transitional housing and are in a safer environment but they are paying more than 1/3 of their income for housing and the housing doesn't meet the family's needs. They have begun to find safe and reliable child care. They pursue education by taking GED classes and improve their basic skills, including literacy and English language. They have access to basic health care and insurance, but it may not be affordable. If they have been dealing with addiction, the client is starting the recovery process. They may also be seeking treatment for mental illness and may attend counseling. They are resolving legal issues by working through the court system and following rules for probation.
Basic Health Care
Basic Education
Child Care Assistance
Substance Abuse & Recovery
Transitional Housing
Job Skills/Job Placement
Mental Health Programs
Court System
During Stability, the client is employed full time and is able to rely mostly on their own resources for the first time. They are receiving a regular hourly wage and may be able to reduce debt and dependence on government funding. They live in affordable housing better suited for their needs, which may be subsidized. They may have received their GED and are now working towards a certification or other program to increase employability.  The client may also now practice risk management by having a safety plan including insurance. The client finds quality child care. They have affordable and reliable transportation or regular access to public transportation. Family members are covered by affordable health insurance and can get medical care when needed. They continue to recover from addiction and have not used for more than six months. The client is attentive to their mental health by regularly attending counseling and staying compliant with medication. They finish probation and stay out of the legal system.
Affordable Housing
Financial Counseling
Quality Child Care
Credit Repair
Affordable & Reliable Trans.
Sobriety & Recovery Programs
Workforce Development
Debt Reduction
Mental Health Counseling
Health Insurance - Affordable & Quality
Growth is a significant step on the client's journey as they now have permanent work with salaried pay and benefits--a career instead of a job. They may even start a business and begin employing others in the community. Steady employment with good pay and benefits allows them to pursue homeownership and build savings. They now own reliable transportation.  The client focuses on enriching and nurturing their family and setting personal and professional goals. They practice preventive health care and make intentional healthy choices. The client continues sober living and helps others that struggle. Their mental health is under control with no symptoms unless there is unusual stress.

Homeownership Programs
Two & Four Year Colleges
Trade Certifications
Parenting Skills & EDU
Transportation Ownership
Personal & Spiritual Development
Preventative Health Care
Abundance means that the client has sufficient resources to meet their own needs and some wants. They have greater peace of mind and a sense of personal freedom. They take an active role in mentoring others and giving back to their communities. One essential aspect of abundant living is ending generational poverty. They impart a sense of lifelong learning and self-reliance to their children. They grow their assets and plan for future generations. They enjoy good physical and mental health and are free from addiction.  Finally, they have a strong support system of healthy relationships and a desire to make a difference in the lives of others.

Retirement Planning
Civic Engagement
Life-Long Learning
Asset Creation & Growth
Mentoring & Volunteering
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When clients get stuck in crisis, community organizations risk being caught in a cycle of dependency with them.

ELM’s Pathway to Sustainability model is designed to help organizations understand the individual’s journey and intentionally focus organizational impact based on mission, expertise, and experience.

As organizations work together, resources are leveraged for maximum impact, and agencies stop asking,

“What can we do to help you?”

and start asking

“What can we do to help you not need us anymore?”

Progress on the Pathway is not linear but progress is possible. Each client’s journey will be unique and organizations will need to work with each client on an individual basis to understand and provide support for their journey. This is not an exhaustive list of client experiences in each phase of the Pathway. It is also not a complete list of possible Focus Areas. Each organization may determine what their clients’ experience looks like and where the organization can intentionally focus its efforts to be most effective.
Download The Pathway
1. Crisis
• Likely unemployed & struggle to meet basic needs
• May rely entirely on family, friends, agencies, & other assistance to get by
• May struggle with addiction & mental health issues
• May even engage in illegal activities to survive
• Feel hopeless, helpless, isolated
Homeless Shelters
Mental Health Crisis Care
Hospital Emergency Care
Law Enforcement
Domestic Violence Programs
Basic Needs (food, clothing,shelter, utility assistance)
• May have obtained part-time employment but still struggle to make ends meet
• Begin to access government and other resources
• Have found a safer living environment
• May enter recovery programs
• Begin accessing legal services
Transitional Housing Programs
Health Care Programs
Child Care Assistance
Transportation Assistance
Mental Health, Substance Abuse & Recovery
Legal services & Court Systems
Job skills & Employment Programs
• Earn an hourly wage & regular paycheck & benefits
• Can pay their bills on time & reduce debt
• Have found permanent, safe, affordable housing
• May increase skills and education
• Rely more on their own resources with less outside assistance
Affordable Housing
Education & Certification Programs
Quality Child Care Programs
Workforce Development
Financial Counseling
Health Care & Insurance
• Permanent employment with good pay, benefits, & opportunities to advance
• May become homeowners
• May even start a business & employ others
• Comfortably meet needs & some wants
Home-ownership Programs
Financial Institutions
Investment Advisers
Two & Four Year Colleges
Wellness Centers
Entrepreneurial Programs
Personal & Spiritual Growth
• Become self-reliant with a sense of having enough & some to spare
• Plan for retirement and build wealth
• Continue to give back by being generous in many ways, including mentoring others
• Worry less & experience peace of mind
Volunteering & Mentoring Programs
Civic Engagement & Leadership Development
Life-Long Learning Opportunities
Asset Creation & Growth
Spiritual Development
Why we created the pathway to sustainability
Our vision is to end generational poverty. We believe that is only possible by working with one client at a time and making intentional investments to break down barriers to progress. We know we can’t do it alone. We work with a variety of community partners who share our vision to close service gaps and help our participants move toward self-reliance.

We started the Community Connections project to help create a community wide collaborative care network that now has almost 200 organizations working together on our network. The next step is to create a community model to help each organization on the network find a focus and work in their area of strength. We hope that, as a result, we will all better serve our clients, reduce duplication of services, and leverage community resources.

Using inspiration from change models in other communities, we have created the Pathway model with input from local organizations. We hope the model will start a community conversation about focusing on what we each do best as we work together to help our clients progress toward self-reliance.

Training on the Pathway to Sustainability Model for Boards and Staff will begin in 2021. Please contact Jennie Robinson for more information
Finding your focus
No one organization can meet all of any one client’s needs. It takes a collaborative effort to help clients progress on the Pathway. Use the following questions to help your board and staff identify your place on the Pathway and how you can work with others to help clients move forward.
• What do we do? How do we do it?
• What challenges do our clients experience most often? Which Pathway Phase best describes that experience?
• Where should we intentionally focus our time, effort, and resources? How can we make the greatest impact?
• Who can we work with to leverage our impact?
• How can we help our clients make progress on the Pathway? How can we help them not need us anymore?
Find Your Focus Area