Civil Society Development

THE CHALLENGE

The majority of civil society organizations dedicate most of their efforts and resources to maintaining their existing capacities with a minimal focus on becoming more effective. Additionally, society lacks firsthand experience with using inclusive, participatory approaches to identify and address local issues.

PROGRAM OBJECTIVES:

  • Enhance civic participation in social and economic decision- and policy- making
  • Strengthen organizational capacity of local civil society organizations
  • Facilitate public-private dialogue in addressing issues of local importance

OVERVIEW

USAID civil society development activities foster informed civic participation in community-based initiatives and public advocacy across the social and economic spectrum in Belarus. USAID empowers citizens to participate in social and economic decision-making by encouraging cooperation between civil society, local governments, and the private sector, helping to create sustainable solutions to local development challenges. USAID provides training, expert advice, and small grants to support civil society organizations (CSOs) and communities, independent business associations and legal assistance providers. Exchange programs introduce Belarusians to best American professional practices and offer opportunities to experience American culture, traditions and values.

OUR PROGRAMS

Capacity Building for Civil Society Organizations (CBCSO)

USAID promotes the development of civil society and participation in decision- and policy-making at the local and national levels. For over a decade, USAID has supported programs in civil society and community development. The CBCSO project builds on the achievements of the previous programs to further strengthen local CSOs, as well as professional and local communities, to better serve the needs of the society. The project is implemented by a consortium of NGOs including Eurasia Foundation (USA), East Europe Foundation (Ukraine), and New Eurasia Establishment (Belarus).

USAID support aims to increase the sustainability of local CSOs, enhance their advocacy efforts, promote sustainable development of professional and local communities, and improve the quality of services delivered by CSOs to target beneficiaries and the general public. USAID provides support to CSOs in addressing the development needs of professional and local communities. Community initiatives and professional networks are supported through a series of activities, including roundtables and discussions, strategy development, training, and study tours. USAID assists CSOs to build and maintain open channels of communication with authorities at different levels to promote the interests of their target groups, and have a voice in decision- and policy-making.

Community Connections

Community Connections (CC) is an exchange program that supports U.S. public diplomacy goals and builds and promotes mutual understanding between the American and Belarusian people. CC contributes to economic and democratic reforms by exposing Belarusians to American best practices and culture.

The program provides Belarusian professionals in business, education, law, civil society, and government the opportunity to gain practical experience from their American counterparts within their respective fields. The program lasts three weeks and includes site visits to American governmental agencies, businesses and CSOs. Each year, 60 participants representing different sectors take part.

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS:

Capacity Building for Civil Society Organizations (CBCSO)

  • The project supports the largest comprehensive, multifaceted training campaign for local CSOs in different dimensions of organizational development.
  • In 2014-2017, representatives of 180 CSOs and initiatives were trained in topical CSO development competencies, such as project management, human resources, financial management, PR, and volunteer management. CSOs completed over 9,600 hours of professional training and received over 2,250 hours of individual consultations.
  • In 2014-2017, CBCSO organized two rounds of small grants competitions to support grassroots and experienced local organizations in implementing their plans of strategic development combined with programmatic activities. Twenty-two local CSOs implemented projects to enhance their organizational capacity and implement small-scale local initiatives. Implementation of local initiatives contributed to enhancing collaboration of local communities with authorities and improving people’s access to social, professional, and educational services.
  • In March 2017, USAID supported a large Civil Society Forum in Belarus, called the March Meetings (Sakavitskiya Sustrechy). The event promoted grassroots activism, stimulated experience/knowledge exchange, and provided networking opportunities for civil society actors. Over 220 leaders of CSOs, grassroots initiatives and activists participated in the event.
  • From 2007-2014, USAID assistance helped build a network of 13 university-based legal clinics and develop educational materials that were disseminated throughout the country. In 2014-2017, representatives of legal clinics from all regions of Belarus completed over 3,400 hours of professional training. Seven new services were introduced by legal clinics. These efforts enhanced the educational role of legal clinics and improved their advocacy role in provision of free services to vulnerable people. Annually, legal clinics provide over 1,200 consultations to vulnerable people.
  • In 2015, legal clinics created the first professional association to further promote legal clinical education. USAID also supported the Inter-university Clinic project that provides continuous professional development and experience exchange opportunities to the clinic curators.
  • USAID assists the development of business education. As a result of an open competition, eight projects from various educational institutions received support to develop new curricula and introduce innovative technologies. Over 100 business educators introduced new teaching methods and materials into their courses, and over 3,000 students benefited from these improvements. Economic and business education faculty acquired the international experience of business school development during several study tours and explored modern educational technologies at training sessions, seminars, and conferences. Over 500 business educators enhanced their professional knowledge and skills with CBCSO’s support.

Community Connections

Close to 600 professionals have successfully visited the U.S. since 2006 under the USAID-supported exchange program. Through these visits, participants were exposed to innovative and best practices in the areas of: management and organizational capacity building for CSOs, small businesses and local government; business and economic education; service provision for vulnerable populations; prevention of domestic violence, trafficking-in-persons, and substance abuse; volunteerism; environmental protection; and culture preservation.

Last updated: November 06, 2017

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