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Guide to Successful Outreach and Education Programs

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This Guide to Successful Outreach and Education Programs was created to help you increase the impact of your existing projects or help you better plan a new initiative. It shares practical examples from projects that have been effective in:

  • Improving access to screening
  • Improving access to services
  • Improving access to support, and/or
  • Empowering consumers

The guide focuses on elements of successful outreach and education programs, highlighting at least one project for each. Each project spotlight includes a project summary, lessons learned, strategies, and strengths of the project. The guide is structured in way to focus on the different elements that go into planning, developing, implementing, and evaluating an outreach program.


Genetics plays an important role in everyone’s lives, including individuals with genetic conditions and their families and the general public. And yet, there are significant gaps in education around genetic services and support that in turn impact health outcomes. By improving access through outreach and education in this area, programs can have a real, demonstrable impact.

Creating and implementing successful outreach and education programs requires knowing and understanding different audiences and strategizing how best to reach them. Beyond raising awareness about a specific topic, outreach and education programs can motivate individuals to take action or make changes to improve their health. The programs included in this guide demonstrate outcomes in at least one of four areas of need: access to services, access to screening, access to support, and consumer empowerment. Our goal is to take the unique approaches presented by these programs and create a resource that helps existing programs expand their reach and encourages the development of future genetics-related outreach programs.

While this guide focuses on genetics-related programs, it is important to note that much can be learned from successful model programs outside the genetics arena. In fact, many of the most successful avenues for improving access to genetics services come through integration and collaboration with other disciplines.

Content of the Guide

Chapter 1: Understanding and Engaging Communities

Chapter 2: Improving Quality and Accessibility

Chapter 3: Marketing and Outreach

Chapter 4: Evaluating Success

Chapter 5: Ensuring Sustainability

Have you done a similar project you'd like to share? Click here to submit

How to Use This Guide

While not every program is structured the same, we focus on 15 key “strategies” that can greatly impact the success in reaching and engaging a population. The areas are not necessarily mutually exclusive or in order of importance or sequence. To best utilize this guide, ask yourself the following questions about your existing or potential project:

  • How do (or would) diverse partners add to the success and help further the goals of your program?
  • How can you use existing data and resources to build upon the success of your program?
  • How can you train others to spread your work to different communities?
  • Are your resources specific to your program, or can they be tailored to impact other communities?

Our hope is that by considering these areas in advance or when reflecting about your program, you can expand upon the success and potential impact of your program.

Additional Resources 

Click here to view additional resources for creating effective outreach programs.

Impact Awards

In January 2014, Genetic Alliance released a Request for Proposals for Impact Awards to support the expansion of successful genetics-related outreach and education programs. Click here for more information on the Impact Awards. This guide was created in conjunction with this award opportunity and in an effort to highlight evidence-based programs that have implemented unique strategies to reach and educate individuals, families, and communities.

The Guide to Successful Outreach and Education Programs and Impact Awards are activities of the National Genetics Education and Consumer Network (NGECN). NGECN is a three-year initiative led by Genetic Alliance in conjunction with the ACMG’s National Coordinating Center for Regional Genetics Collaboratives (NCC). This cooperative agreement is funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the Genetic Services Branch of the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Cooperative Agreement No. U22MC04100.


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