Leadership Academy Gives Ukrainian Activist New Skills to Engage Youth

Roman Kuchma receives an award “2017 Best Youth Practices” from the Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports of Ukraine, Oleksandr Yarema, as a creator of youth hub Center of Community Development in Spaske village.
Roman Kuchma, a creator of the youth hub Center of Community Development in Spaske village, receives an award as part of the 2017 Best Practices of Youth Work competition from Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports Oleksandr Yarema.
Courtesy of International Republican Institute
Encouraging young people to realize their potential
“After participating in [the academy], I felt more certain that I could present my ideas more effectively to bring positive change to my community.”

July 2018 — Roman Kuchma was looking for ways to make young people in his Ukrainian village more active.

As the head of the civil society organization Spaske Space and a member of the Spaske Village Council in Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk oblast, Kuchma applied to participate in USAID’s Political Leadership Academy (PLA) in autumn 2016. The PLA brings together diverse political and civic activists for a series of advanced training workshops on topics such as advocacy, advanced leadership, communication skills, and modern techniques for election campaigning. The academy was organized by the International Republican Institute in 2015-2016.

During his attendance at the academy, Kuchma came up with the idea of creating a youth hub — a place where young people could study, meet like-minded peers, and realize their creative potential.

“My CSO [civil society organization] lacked experience in writing proposals, and we hadn`t received any financial support from donors, but after participating in PLA, I felt more certain that I could present my ideas more effectively to bring positive change to my community,” explained Kuchma.

He sent his hub proposal to Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, a German development agency, which agreed to purchase equipment and furniture. But Kuchma still needed to find a location for the hub. While at the PLA, he learned that, in some Ukrainian cities, a civil society organization can rent a place belonging to a municipality or a territorial community for as little as one Ukrainian hryvnia (4 cents) per year.

In his research, Kuchma found that the provision for leasing municipal property from the Spaske Village Council did not apply to local civil society organizations. As a village council member, he successfully worked to amend the provision and give local organizations access to office space.

“During the IRI Political Leadership Academy, the most important topic for me was how to run a public advocacy campaign,” said Kuchma, who noted that this was key to winning council support for his resolution.

As a result, the Center of Community Development youth space opened in the Spaske Village Cultural Center in May 2017. Now local activists have a place to organize training sessions on youth opportunities, team-building, and leadership, as well as conduct meetings with key contacts to discuss further projects and initiatives.

Inspired by his success, Kuchma presented his hub project at the Best Practices of Youth Work 2017 competition conducted by the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Ukraine. The Center of Community Development was selected as one of the 100 best youth practices in Ukraine for its development of mechanisms to ensure youth participation in community life.

Networking during PLA sessions also led to a new full-time job for Kuchman with the Dnipro City Council, but he still closely follows community development in Spaske. He encourages young people to participate in various training opportunities and educational programs that will help them to make positive changes at the local level.

USAID’s Ukraine Responsive and Accountable Politics Program, which runs from April 2016 through March 2020, promotes political processes that lead to more representative, transparent and accountable governance. The program emphasizes three main areas: promoting political party accountability and inclusivity at the national level, enhancing party and government officials’ representation of citizens’ interests at the local level, and improving the environment for political competition. The program, which is implemented by the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the International Republican Institute, and the International Foundation for Election Systems, assists a broad spectrum of democratic parties in Ukraine and maintains a geographical balance nationwide. In select regions, the program is designed to help locally elected officials to be responsive to citizens’ interests, and to improve political and leadership skills among youth.

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Last updated: August 09, 2018

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