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Building a Learning Community

The Kellogg Foundation believes communication and experience sharing are essential to improve the performance and results of the projects it supports. They also facilitate the development of networks and the exchange of ideas, which are crucial for breaking the cycle of poverty. This is why the Foundation recently organized Network Meetings in its three priority geographic areas for programming in Latin America and the Caribbean. The aim of these meetings is to acquire conceptual tools for developing communication and cooperation between the projects.

The comprehensive clusters of projects in southern Mexico and in Central American and Caribbean countries participated in two such meetings. The first took place in May 2003 in Oaxaca, Mexico, during which the Foundation’s strategic programming was discussed. Once the basics had been grasped, a second meeting was held in November 2003 in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, to address the matter of evaluation, one of the key elements in the development of the projects. Yet another meeting has been organized for the last week of March in the Dominican Republic, whose principal discussion topic will be education. One of the outcomes of these events has been the creation of a virtual space for sharing experiences.

Priority Geographic Area 2, which encompasses northeastern Brazil, saw its first meeting in Natal, the capital of the state of Rio Grande do Norte, in November last year. The meeting was held to address issues such as youth, development, sustainability, and cooperation strategies, and also to promote collective reflection on cooperation among projects. “This meeting was very opportune for the building and systematization of knowledge,” said Regina Cabral, director of the Young Citizen project. As a result, the projects were able to define the difficulties and the requirements for building a learning community. The next meeting will be held in August 2004.

In Priority Area 3, the Andean region, two meetings have now taken place, in March and November 2003, in Arica, Chile, and the topic of both was strategic planning and evaluation methods. The next meeting will be in November 2004, once again in Arica, and the main topic of discussion will be education. The main result is that these projects are now better organized and can more readily share experiences.

Youth Leadership Network

In Priority Geographic Area 1 (Central America, southern Mexico, and the Caribbean), aside from the comprehensive clusters, there is also a second group of projects that carries out work similar to that of building learning networks. These are the Youth Leadership Projects, which are implementing nine initiatives organized by the youngsters themselves. They are setting up a Central American Youth Leadership Network. They have held meetings twice, the latest in January this year, in Honduras. The objective of the network is to share experiences and enhance youth participation through three key issues: leadership, environment and citizenship.

The network is made up of youngsters from six countries between the ages of 16 and 25. Meetings are held every six months during a period of three years. The next will take place in El Salvador, in the second half of 2004.

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