7 Stages to Sustainability (7SS)

Our Approach & How it WORKS

At the foundation of Empowerment WORKS is 7 Stages to Sustainability (7SS) --- our flagship collaboration roadmap, Asset Based Community-driven Development (ABCD) framework, and sustainability curriculum.

7SS also represents our philosophy that sustainable social change comes through supporting sheer will and self-determination of those most affected by whatever critical issues are being addressed.


1. Build a team around your ideal future. Find Partners In Empowerment - community members, local organizations, businesses & others dedicated to positive change. 

2. Assess local assets = economic opportunities. Explore the richness of human (talents, skills, cultural gifts) and sustainable natural resources right in your backyard. Take inventory of your village, city, region. (Asset-Based Community Development).

3. Make a plan (co-create solutions). Work with your team to find the root causes of local challenges. Outline local needs, your mission, goals, how you will measure success, and then actions. Agree who will do what and how you will share responsibilities.


4. Educate Yourself and Learn from Others. Get the skills you and your team need to make an impact.  Identify the training & technical support local teams will need to deliver what is needed. Ensure those who are going to carry on the work get the training you or they need.

5. Identify, exchange & invest in LOCALLY appropriate technologies & critical information in health, energy, transportation, construction, agriculture, water, IT, education, etc. - How can you ADD GREATEST VALUE to your LOCAL ASSETS (Stage 2)?

6. Harness the power of the private sector to deliver what's needed & create livelihoods for people in need. Link existing resources (Stage 1 & 2) with skills & technologies (Stage 4 & 5) to develop products and services that value and protect local heritage. 


7. Reinvest in Impact & Deepen Sustainability. Build Public-Private Partnerships for Self-Reliance. As projects need to run on their own, ensure that the community support systems are regenerative & self-repairing.  Develop, reinforce, refine and deepen the mutually supportive  multi-sector exchanges yielding long-term income streams to sustain local impact.


We are looking for Sustainable Results. How do we know we have them?

Local Communities are socially empowered and economically integrated in the global community.

Dependence on foreign partners is reduced & social benefits increase. It benefits non-profits in reducing duplication through locally-led collaboration strategies.

Emphasizing in-kind resources and use of what stakeholders have, it is not dependent on funding to create solutions.

Uniting complimentary resources of local and global communities

*See & Co-create 7SS outcomes with Partners in Empowerment (PIE)

Looking for an example?  See this 7SS Case Study on Mercy Corps in Nepal & Timor-Leste.

Through honoring the rich cultures and other local assets in the world's most economically challenged communities, the 7 Stages to Sustainability paradigm can transform poverty into economic opportunities that value and protect local heritage.

Modeling the way nature creates, the widely distributed 7SS pattern is inherent to, and used worldwide to catalyze innovation in, business, technology, music and most (if not all) other functional systems.  

To strengthen coherence and meaningful collaboration across all sectors of society in local solutions, Empowerment WORKS is dedicated to building a learning community around 7SS, ultimately scaling up global collaboration in local solutions.