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Community Contribution

Making Evidence Accessible with the LACLEARN Evidence Help Desk

Cara Thanassi, Stephanie Schmidt

Full Organization Names: USAID/Bureau for Latin America and the Carribean and Development Professionals Inc.-Making Cents International

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC Bureau) supports regional Missions and DC-managed initiatives to develop innovative and responsive programming on democracy, human rights, governance (DRG) and citizen security.  The LAC Bureau plays a crucial role in supporting Missions’ and initiatives’ access to collective knowledge and evidence. This is particularly important in the context of USAID staff members’ heavy workloads, rapidly evolving social and political landscapes, and the aim to integrate the most pertinent technical evidence.

The Latin America and Caribbean Learning and Rapid Response (LACLEARN) contract provides analytical, learning, and rapid-response support for DRG and citizen security issues. LACLEARN advances the LAC Bureau’s mandates to promote evidence-based programming, innovation, evidence sharing, and learning across Missions and initiatives in the region. LACLEARN is implemented by Development Partners, Inc.–Making Cents International, LLC, with subcontractors NORC and ARD.
In line with the LAC Bureau’s commitment to knowledge sharing and innovation, USAID and LACLEARN saw the need for a help desk mechanism to make it easier to access and use information across USAID along with evidence from other actors doing related work and generating relevant evidence. 

The Help Desk offers USAID staff a flexible and tailored way to more efficiently access available technical evidence, reducing the demand on their time and encouraging their use of knowledge. By completing a short Google form, USAID staff receive a Help Desk response to their specific needs and questions in 2 weeks or less. This expedited process, coupled with customized products and reducing USAID staff workloads, empowers staff members to effectively leverage evidence or identify areas where it is lacking, thereby enhancing the outcomes of their work.

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