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Community Contribution

Introducing USAID’s Learning Improvement Projects!

May 08, 2013

Have you ever had a great idea that never quite made it off the ground due to limited time, resources, and budget? Have you ever identified a potentially valuable learning opportunity in your projects that was never fully realized? During an intensive discovery interview process from May to September 2012, the Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning (PPL) discovered that many USAID staff felt this way. One key finding from the interviews was that although USAID staff value learning and have great ideas to strengthen learning, they often feel that learning activities are frequently underutilized, under-funded, and understaffed. As a response to this finding, PPL/LER issued an Agency-wide call for “Learning Improvement” proposals for innovative ideas on targeted learning improvements for USAID. The response was impressive—18 proposals were received from 6 different bureaus, 8 different offices, and 2 Mission offices. Out of these 18, 5 were selected for funding.

The objective of the Learning Improvement Projects is to catalyze Agency learning by sharing lessons learned from innovative pilot projects with the hope that promising approaches can be replicated and scaled up by others for greater impact. Each project must address all components of the learning cycle (create, organize, share, and use) as a way to ensure that the learning generated will not remain with a few individuals but effectively shared out to and utilized by a broader audience. The USAID-funded Knowledge-Driven Microenterprise Development (KDMD) project will provide customized support to all projects.

The five Learning Improvement Projects are all unique in scope and include the following:

Advocacy Resource Center: USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) will expand upon their work through the Lebanon Civic Support Initiative (LCSI) to develop an online Advocacy Resource Center to share resources (including an interactive version of the OTI Lebanon Advocacy Toolkit) while promoting dialogue and exchange among stakeholders working on advocacy issues. Visitors to the Center will be able to access valuable resources, contribute resources, communicate with other stakeholders working on advocacy, and share approaches and good practices with others. 

Digital Data Feasibility Study: The Development Credit Authority (DCA) will research the feasibility of mining new digital data sources (including social media, blogs, news media, and Google) for financial access data in Kenya. This will help them to determine whether “big data” can accurately help to identify gaps in access to finance in order to design appropriate program interventions.

Economic Analysis Data Dashboard: E3’s Office of Economic Policy (EP) will pilot the creation of a dashboard to organize and aggregate selected economic data (including cost benefit analyses, inclusive growth diagnostics, and macroeconomic analyses) to make it more accessible and easier to use by USAID and external stakeholders.

Caribbean Partners for Educational Progress CoP: The Jamaica Mission will utilize their Learning Improvement Project to support and capture the transition of the Caribbean Partners for Educational Progress Community of Practice (CoP) to the University of the West Indies to document important lessons learned in sustainability for USAID.

OpenStreetMap and Field Papers Upgrade: Two important mapping tools will be improved through OTI’s other Learning Improvement Project. Key features from OpenStreetMap and Field Papers (including faster atlas creation and streamlined export options) will be upgraded making the user experience better. Best practices and how-to guidance will for both tools will also be compiled and made available to all users.

Stay tuned to Learning Lab's Lab Notes for updates on the Learning Improvement Projects as they explore innovations around learning for better development. You can also follow Learning Lab on Twitter (@usaidlearning) to learn more!