Recipe for Resilience

Here is one recipe that includes the essential ingredients gathered from 9 Tastes of Success from 9 different communities. The recipe is presented in the infographic, followed by a text description to more fully explain each step. Your community may follow this recipe as a guide, or as you take stock of your strengths and resources and find that you want to put together these ingredients in a different order, or using a slightly different set. You can print this infographic and the text, and share with your own community to start your plan. You can share your Recipe, as you put it together, or your “Questions for the Cooks” in the comments section below.

Infographic Design by Val Krist Click here to view this infographic full size

1. Someone starts. Anyone—a community advocate, a local priest, an artist, a group of pediatricians—starts the conversation and catalyzes, the community’s trauma-informed, resilience-building efforts. That person may lead, or someone else may lead from there.

What’s important is that the individual or group understand the science of ACEs and be committed to integrating them into all parts of the community.

2. Local efforts. Identify any trauma-informed, resilience-building efforts under way locally and engage the leaders of those efforts.

3. Engage local leaders. The individual or group identifies a small group (30-50 people) of community leaders from different sectors—education, human services, juvenile justice, mental health—and educates them one-on-one about ACES, trauma and resilience.

4. Steering committee and Backbone organization. The most enthusiastic members of this group form a steering committee that drives the initial effort, and that forms, or identifies, a backbone organization to support the effort.

5. ACEsConnection group. Form a local group on

6. Make history. Document your efforts so others can learn from your community’s experience.

7. Collective impact. Develop a “collective impact” model in which multiple groups or agencies share a mission and develop a collaborative approach to carry out that mission.

8. Local resources. Assess your resources—local funding, meeting space, in-kind support, etc.

9. Mission, goals, action. Develop a mission statement, goals and a plan of action; review and update every two years.

10. Slogan. Develop a one-line slogan or tagline.

11. Local data, local urgency. Use local data to create a sense of urgency.

Focus on hope, resilience and change without losing sight of the deep and long-term impact of childhood adversity. ACEs are not destiny; if the brain can be hurt, it can also be healed.

12. Communication tools (Develop PowerPoint presentation, web site, Facebook page, brochures, video).

13. Public meetings. Schedule regular public meetings of the steering committee and make them open to anyone in the community.

Be open to “uncommon partners” in the work.

14. Local funding? Apply to local or regional foundations for initial funding, but don’t stop if you don’t get funding.

15. Walk the talk. Set a goal for all members of your coalition to “walk the talk” of trauma-informed practice in their own agencies and departments.

Work small and think big”—that is, put trauma-informed practices in place in your own coalition and day-to-day work while building alliances and momentum for larger-scale change.

16. Presenters. Develop and train a cadre of people who can give presentations to different sectors—nurses, probation officers, pediatricians, Rotary Club, teachers—in the community.

17. Educate. Present. Educate. Repeat. Do presentations about ACEs and resilience for all identified sectors in the community—police departments, juvenile court judges, child-care workers. Present to the same groups multiple times; it takes repeated exposures for new information to take hold.


18. Local ACE survey. Develop measures of success: an ACE survey and a “comprehension” survey to assess understanding of ACEs and resilience.

19. Feedback. Develop ways to gather feedback (e.g., evaluation sheets at workshops).

Recognize that deep-rooted attitudes—for example, a belief in individual responsibility and self-sufficiency—may present barriers to understanding

ACEs and resilience, and that such attitudes take time to change.

Remember that becoming trauma-informed is a long-term process, and that not everyone will “come on board” right away.

20. Summits, learning circles. Plan public education meetings—monthly “learning circles,” annual ACE Summits. Start with “ACEs 101” and move to more complex trainings on impact and implementation.

Recognize how past trauma—whether economic, environmental or political—affects your community now. Be willing to address these issues in a sensitive and inclusive way.

21. Media. Conduct media outreach at every step through local news, including traditional (newspapers, magazines), digital and social media.

Celebrate progress and successes.

22. Official recognition. Develop an MOU—memorandum of understanding—for local government to provide official endorsement and support of your organization and its goal of creating a trauma-informed, resilience-building community.

23. Large-scale funding? Decide whether to seek large-scale funding to support the steering committee and its work.

Ask your “Questions for the Cooks” in the comments section below or click here to comment at