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Community Contribution

USAID Civil Society + Pro Bono Activity: A Case Study in Locally Led Development


Between August 2020 and December 2023, USAID/Mexico funded the Civil Society + Pro Bono (CSPro) Activity, implemented by Appleseed Mexico. The activity’s main objective was to increase the legal literacy and compliance of civil society organizations (CSOs) by providing them with essential legal support and by leveraging a pro bono network of legal firms. CSPro’s success was grounded in both USAID and Appleseed’s understanding that a robust civil society is instrumental to a thriving democracy. This case study provides an overview of tools utilized by the CSPro project that are representative of this understanding and helped to enable locally led development. 

Highlights from this case study include:

  • Strength in numbers: collective action is more easily achieved when it is undertaken by a network of actors. In this case of CSPro, that has meant creating a pro bono network of local actors, which has allowed for the multiplication of resources available to support the work of CSOs.
  • Ensuring that the organizations that make up a network that is designed to provide assistance to CSOs are diverse in their areas of expertise allows for a more comprehensive level of support. For CSPro, that has meant developing a network that includes law firms, universities, accountants, and local authorities.
  • Tailoring the processes of collaboration, learning, and adapting in such a way that recognizes that local partners’ journeys start before and extend beyond the contract period helps ensure a successful working relationship and supports the sustainability of the network.

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