First Things First: Gaining Buy-In

The rate of program implementation varies depending on school and community culture, as well as the supporting community agencies. The greatest variation occurs during the initial phases, between when a school initially becomes aware of Sources of Strength and when the administration commits to its implementation. Much of the pace of approval, buy-in, and agreement depends on the school’s readiness to work with peer leaders, address suicide, and invest in a comprehensive prevention effort rather than a “one-shot” assembly style speaker.

 The process also includes the very real and important process of trust building and relationship building between the school and Sources of Strength personnel. Feel free to schedule a call with Sources of Strength staff to answer questions, address concerns and clarify the process with administrators and key stakeholders. 

Administrative Buy-In

One of the key elements to a successful implementation of Sources of Strength is having strong administrator buy in. We have found that clear communication of expectations is essential. If administrators have questions or concerns, we want to make sure we address those upfront. 
Please have your administration review and sign the below Administration Letter of Commitment and forward to your Sources of Strength representative. 

Adult Advisor Buy-In

We have learned over the years that having the right adult advisors really makes or breaks the effort. We want to be sure that we are getting the right people into this crucial role. Adult Advisors help coordinate the program and support the peer leader team throughout the effort.
Please review the Adult Advisor Skill Set document as you consider who to approach. We are shooting for at least a 1-10 adult to student ratio, but it certainly can be higher than that.

A few key elements to remember:

  • We are looking for caring, connected and positive adults in your school or community. These are the people who have the “it factor” with kids, students like and trust them. We have found that even though and adult can be Caring & Connected, if they are more cynical or pessimistic than Positive, the tend to not make great Adult Advisors. Please take this into consideration. 
  • Avoid simply assigning the role of adult advisors. Just because someone is a school counselor or psychologist does not mean they have the necessary skills, passion or time to be an effective adult advisor. Adult advisors should be excited and passionate about this work and have at least some time available to commit to the program. 
  • Think outside the box. Some of our most dynamic adult advisors are not mental health staff but rather come from across the spectrum. Band Teachers, School Resource Officers, Youth Pastors, Parents, Lunch Ladies and more have all participated as adult advisors. 
  •  While the time commitment for an adult advisor is not huge, it does require some level of availability. Typically adults advisors must attend the 1/2 day adult advisor training as well as the 1/2 day peer leader training. Afterwards the adult advisors and peer leaders meet roughly every other week for 30 minutes to an hour to work on their messaging strategies. 

We want to make sure our adult advisors know what they are signing up for. Please have selected adult advisors review and sign the Adult Advisor Letter of Commitment


Review Referral Protocol

Prior to implementing Sources of Strength, schools must complete a review of their protocol and referral process for handling a distressed or suicidal student. This includes processes for identifying distressed students, addressing the mental health and social needs of such youth, and tracking those referrals. Many schools and districts have existing best practice standard intervention protocols in place. If yours does not, Sources of Strength can help you to develop one. 

Please review the Intervention Protocol Guidelines and determine whether your school’s plan is adequate. 


Sign and Return Administrative Letter of Commitment
Identify and Recruit adult advisors using the Adult Advisor Skillset document
Have adult advisors review and sign the Adult Advisor Letter of Commitment
Review the Intervention Protocol Guidelines and consult with Sources of Strength if you feel your plan does not measure up