12 April 2024
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Ukrainian Youth Drive Community Development Initiatives
Ukrainian Youth Drive Community Development Initiatives

The USAID Governance and Local Accountability (HOVERLA) Activity has paved the way for young people to participate in nation-building and development through the ‘Youth Influencers Program.’ To make this beneficial program accessible to all, the entire 13-episode course is now available on Ukraine’s Diia mobile application.


On February 10-11, 2024, 240 young individuals from 12 regions across Ukraine showcased 35 innovative community development projects during the culmination forum of the Youth Influencers Program, initiated by the USAID Governance and Local Accountability (HOVERLA) Activity.

These achievements were the result of five months of intensive online and offline training, during which youths, guided by their mentors, developed ideas focused on various areas including informal education, national and patriotic upbringing, youth development, the creation of youth spaces, sports, community branding, tourism, and various informational and infrastructure initiatives. The projects were presented at the forum to a panel of experienced jurors from international organizations and foundations, showcasing the practical application of their training. Notably, some projects have already secured grants and have commenced implementation within their communities, demonstrating the tangible impact of the program on local development.

Iryna Strilchuk, a participant from the Lutsk in Volyn Region, shared how the Influencers project helped create a significant initiative for the community — a mobile application for veterans that consolidates information about services and hubs for social and psychological rehabilitation.

“The Influencers project has been an invaluable experience for us. Thanks to new knowledge, we identified the need for a mobile application that compiles various services for veterans. These services already exist, but they are difficult to find, and not many people know about them. With the help of the Lutsk City Council, we dug deeper into this issue. Interacting with local self-government was one of the project's main focuses. Thanks to training in public speaking and the creation of quality presentations, we were able to present solid ideas and attract attention to them. Moving forward, we will plan the next steps together with the Department of Youth and Sports, hoping our project will truly impact the community."

 

 

Vira from Yuzhne in Odesa Region shared an idea of building a center for animals and conducting a communications campaign on the responsible treatment of animals. This project has already led to specific agreements with the Yuzhne City Council.

 “This experience has shown us that local self-government is eager to listen and that we can indeed drive positive changes within our community!”

Explained Vira:

“During the Influencers project, we participated in an enlightening course that highlighted the problem of stray animals, as reported by over 60 percent of residents. This issue has worsened following the full-scale invasion, as many people fled their homes with their pets. Many domestic animals also arrived from the Mykolaiv and Kherson regions, where active shelling persists. This situation sparked the concept of an animal center. Through the project, we learned effective communication strategies with local authorities and discovered their keen interest, paving the way for a highly productive collaboration. The city council is ready to allocate land, assist with project documentation, and facilitate utility connections. This experience has shown us that local self-government is eager to listen and that we can indeed drive positive changes within our community!”

 

 

At the forum, Gabriel Abraham, the Chief of Party of the USAID HOVERLA Activity, addressed the participants with a welcome speech.

“Currently, there are about 10 million young people in Ukraine. They are a pool to generate new ideas and shape society. The USAID HOVERLA Activity contributes to the Ukrainian government's decentralization reform by supporting the development of local self-government – this must be done with active involvement of the youth. Our goal is to accelerate local development by expanding the opportunities for young leaders, strengthening their ability to identify problems and transform them into projects with real impact."

As part of the Influencers project, selected participants from 25 communities underwent an online course in project management. Communities in Volyn, Zakarpattia, Odesa, Mykolaiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Zhytomyr, Rivne, Poltava, Ivano-Frankivsk, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Luhansk regions (specifically the Kreminna community, which moved to Rivne) were represented in the project management course. Participants learned to identify local needs, prepare project documentation, write grant applications, and collaborate with local and state authorities.

 

 

To make the project management course available to everyone interested, HOVERLA had arranged for this course’s integration into the government’s "Diia Education" platform. The Diia platform is a staple for Ukrainians as they access various government services. The course is a 13-episode series with step-by-step instructions on creating impactful community changes and is now available here. The educational series is based on real experiences and successful cases from the Influencers project.

The forum also featured panel discussions on how youth can influence and value-based leadership. Deputy Minister of Education and Science Mykhaylo Vynnytskyy, Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports Andriy Chesnokov, Head of the State Tourism Development Agency Mariana Oleskiv, Deputy Head of the Lviv Regional State Administration Oleksandr Kulepin, Acting Head of the Ukrainian Leadership Academy Yevheniia Mateichuk, Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of EasyBusiness Dmytro Livch, Deputy Mayor of Lviv Andriy Moskalenko and other mayors participated in the discussions.


The Youth Influencers Program was conducted through HOVERLA’s ‘Regional Changemakers’ grant to the Ukrainian Leadership Academy, in partnership with EasyBusiness and the Center for Economic Recovery.

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