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LCDA Staff Reflects on the Successful Graduation of First CSO Training Course Cohort

Daniel Ramos, Jennifer Morfin and Carlos Zarco reflect on graduation of first Diplomado cohort

In June 2016, USAID/Mexico Local Capacity Development Activity celebrated the graduation of the first cohort of its civil society organization (CSO) training course – the Diplomado. Over the course of three years, over 100 organizations – working in such areas as human rights, climate change, gender, democracy and governance, and food security – will complete the Diplomado course in six groups, or cohorts.

As the field team prepares to select and train the second cohort of CSOs, they took some time to reflect on the experience of the first Diplomado.  Jennifer Morfin (Director of Community Impact and Strategic Partnerships, Fondo Unido México) noted the commitment of participants over 84 hours of classroom training and overwhelmingly positive feedback.  By and large, participant organizations found the content of the course (on such topics as human resource management, financial management, and strategic planning) to be relevant to their needs and goals.  Participants presented proposals for institutional strengthening of their CSOs, demonstrating and applying new competencies gained from the Diplomado.

Organizational Capacity Building Specialist Daniel Ramos observed that new relationships and partnerships had emerged as a result of group work in Comunidades de Aprendizaje (peer-to-peer learning communities), which enriched participants’ learning experience through close collaboration, support, and sharing of experience. Prior to the start of the Diplomado, the LCDA team administers LINC’s Pre-Investment Capacity and Knowledge Scorecard (PICKS) of selected organizations in order to identify common needs and assign participants to the Comunidades accordingly.

The LCDA team has collected comprehensive feedback from participants in order to refine the content and format of the Diplomado, incorporating suggestions for additional training topics and the use of new technologies to supplement the Diplomado’s interactive online discussions.

The team identified the most rewarding part of the Diplomado: establishing close relationships with each of their students and the chance to witness their hard work and progress. Program Manager Carlos Zarco noted, “For me, the most rewarding part is the dialogue with participants, to see how the ideas discussed will translate into new practices within the organizations.” Daniel added, “Participation was excellent and motivated me as an instructor. Both in the classroom and in visits to organizations, the participants’ enthusiasm for learning was the inspiration that drove me.”

The team is confident that the Diplomado will meet the LCDA project’s goal of strengthening managerial capacities and implement lasting solutions that lead to long-term organizational sustainability and efficiency for Mexican CSOs. LCDA will also develop a sustainable business model for the Diplomado to continue after USAID funding ends. Daniel explained, “I am convinced of the importance of civil society for a better future for our society.” The first Diplomado was “a great experience. I am glad that we have 5 more opportunities to provide the course to at least 100 Mexican organizations dedicated to improving Mexican lives.”

Read more about the LCDA project here.