The What

Ngilai community member Naramat Lenkalani and Legado Senior Program Manager Monicah Mbiba during a legacy session in Wamba, Kenya.

Legado is a global nonprofit that works alongside indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCS) in places important for biodiversity to ensure they have the tools, resources, and partnerships they need to create and lead solutions that benefit both their communities and landscapes—an outcome we call Thriving Futures. The ultimate goal of our Thriving Futures™model is to build a sustainable, locally-led system for collaborative problem solving that fosters adaptability and resilience in communities for meeting current and future challenges, such as those brought on by climate change.

Legado's Radical Approach

Legado’s Thriving Futures model supports indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) by: 

  • Being community led, shifting the decision-making power
    into the hands of local people
  • Using a non-sectoral approach that supports any change communities prioritize
  • Building on existing community assets
  • Igniting collective action with women in the lead and increasing the involvement of youth and other marginalized groups in their communities
  • Working with local partners to efficiently scale impact

We use three criteria to select our partnerships and sites:

  • The site is valuable to global biodiversity and/or for climate change mitigation
  • IPLCs have land tenure or a path to it
  • There are organizations in, or about to be in, the region that support livelihood development


In a high-priority area for biodiversity, Legado partners with an existing and like-minded local organization to launch a partnership and assemble an inclusive group of people committed to leading change in their community.


Using the concept of legacy, Legado jumpstarts individual motivation and action through a series of workshops that help participants define their own personal legacies and commitments for creating a Thriving Future—where both people and their landscapes can thrive.


Participants then build on this work by coming together to create a shared legacy vision and commitments for the Thriving Future of their community. Community assets and resources are assessed and then a realistic plan of action is built for top priorities that are decided by consensus.


Community members next begin implementing their Legacy Plan. Legado plays a key role by serving as a “backbone” to foster effective collection action by the community. Work is monitored and evaluated regularly by the collaborative to ensure successful adaptive management along the way.


Legado provides 3 years of intensive on-the-ground support to build effective collective action and connect communities with partners and funders when assistance is needed. However, the end goal is to ensure a sustainable, locally-led system for collaborative problem solving. Thus the emphasis is capitalizing on a community’s current assets as much as possible. Ultimately, Legado’s backbone role is then transitioned to the local organization and community, and Legado continues to support the collaborative through their network of partners.

What Sets Legado Apart?

Legacy as a Call to Action

 “Legado” means legacy in Portuguese and Spanish, and legacy is foundational to our work. Legacy is not just something left behind, but something we all create every day. This simple concept acts as a call to action at a time when our planet and its people need it most.


Thriving Futures as the goal

Legado is not a conservation organization. Nor is it a development organization. We are a Thriving Futures organization and do not limit our focus to single sectors such as health or conservation. Instead, we work with local people to prioritize what their community and environment need to thrive together now and into the future – an ultimate goal we call Thriving Futures.

Iterative and responsive programming

To ensure our programs evolve to meet the unique and changing needs of communities, we prioritize monitoring and evaluation, JEDI, participatory methods, and innovative and flexible approaches to program delivery. This helps our team continuously improve our model while also ensuring communities get the impact they desire.

Supporting Women

In many of the places where we work, women, despite being known for their adaptive knowledge and experience to step up to challenges and create sustainable solutions, often lack a place at the table to influence decision-making.

The Thriving Futures model focuses specifically on empowering women in IPLCs by:

  • Increasing female representation in leadership and decision-making
  • Providing women-only spaces for voices to be heard
  • Catalyzing individual women to lead through coaching support
“”I was asked to be on a school committee but declined because I did not have the courage or confidence to serve as a leader. But after the Thriving Futures training, I reconsidered and am now a committee member making decisions for the school.”
Khadija Lelesara, Ngilai, Kenya

Individuals as the drivers of change

Legado then uses legacy to inspire individuals to be the drivers of change in their communities. Many projects only engage with traditional leaders or a single group of people (e.g., women or youth), but this leaves out many voices and perspectives. Legado instead believes that there’s a leader inside each of us and that we all have a responsibility to shape our future and the future of our communities. Our legacy programming is designed to unlock this potential.

Designed for scale

Our strategy is also thoughtfully designed to scale efficiently. Our partner organizations are chosen specifically for their ability to help replicate the Legado Model across their landscapes. 

See Legado’s Approach in Action

In Legacy, Legado's 4-minute film, you will see Legado's radical approach of activating legacies in action. Shot in Mozambique and Kenya in 2021 by Roshni Lodhia, Legacy features community ambassadors Mayanae Lemojong and Inácio Josefe Napalacué as they pursue a Thriving Future for themselves, their families and their communities.
Want to know more about Legado? Connect with Majka Burhardt, Executive Director, or Dr. Tita Alvira, Director of Thriving Futures.