Young Leaders Put Integrity Values Into Action

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Wednesday, January 12, 2022
Valeriia Chobotok demonstrates how youth can play a role in promoting anti-corruption reforms
Courtesy of America House Kyiv

USAID promotes principled leadership among Ukrainian youth

In summer 2020, amid the pandemic, USAID’s Support to Anti-Corruption Champion Institutions (SACCI) activity searched for ways to engage youth in virtual anti-corruption activities. Jointly with America House Kyiv, SACCI launched the Integrity Leadership School (ILS) in May 2020 with a cohort of 18 students from across Ukraine.

The initiative gathers youth seeking to gain knowledge, practical skills, and leadership experience to build their future careers based on the principles of integrity and zero tolerance to corruption. The three-month online program aims to empower emerging leaders in high school and university. Through interactive skill-building and human-centered design sessions, cross-cultural discussions, and workshops with Ukrainian and international experts, the participants learn about public speaking, government transparency, academic integrity, and topics that are indispensable for future leaders. After the pilot’s success, SACCI and America House held a second iteration from November 2020 to March 2021 with 21 students.

After the program, participants indicated that they more clearly perceived their role in combating corruption. They garnered a deeper understanding of corruption, the tools they can use to counter this phenomenon, and the work of anti-corruption agencies. Most confirmed their intention to design and implement integrity-oriented community projects and apply acquired leadership skills and knowledge. 

“Corruption is always an individual choice, and it is in an individual’s power to counter corruption,” said ILS alum Roksolana Malyniak.

Some alumni have not only incorporated the school’s values into their daily lives, but also launched careers in the anti-corruption field. For alum Valeriia Chobotok, her time at ILS inspired her to apply to the prominent civil society organization (CSO) Anti-Corruption Headquarters. The organization sheds light on corruption schemes to hold those in power accountable. Valeriia joined Anti-Corruption Headquarters first as an intern and then as communications manager. In her capacity publicizing the CSO’s vital work exposing graft, Valeriia fulfilled the mission she envisioned for herself following graduation from ILS. Currently, Valeriia is pursuing a master’s degree in the United States through the Global UGRAD Program, where she continues to broaden her horizons. 

“After ILS, I had a clear vision of working in an NGO or creating a socially responsible business. I realized how important it is for me to do things that improve lives every day,” stated Valeriia. 

ILS and other civic-oriented professional and personal development programs, including the Open University of Reforms and the National Agency on Corruption Prevention’s Integrity School, are key to building a generation that recognizes there is no place for corruption in Ukraine’s future. Plans for a third iteration to grow the community of young changemakers are in the works.

Last updated: January 12, 2022

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