WEST BANK:

CLEP in Action, Young Leader Envisions Future Through Strategic Planning Skills

December 3, 2010

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The New Ramallah Club is opening doors to opportunity for young Palestinians like Mohammed Hadia. A second year student at BirZeit University, Mohammad combines his study time with gaining leadership skills at the New Ramallah Club (NRC). You can find Mohammed at the NRC most afternoons. The NRC not only gives him access to computers and computer training that he needs to pursue a major in communications and media, but also offers an opportunity to serve his community.

Established by a group of young men and women in January 2009 and located at the heart of the city, this is one of the few urban youth clubs in the area. Mohammad’s uncle was one of the club’s pioneers. Energetic and bright, Mohammad has thrown himself into the club’s new ventures promoting sports and social activities, volunteer work, cultural events, summer camps and other youth events.

In October of 2009, the NRC received a grant of computer lab and office furniture from the U.S. State Department’s Middle East Partnership Initiative’s Community Leadership Empowerment Program. CLEP is implemented by Creative Associates. Mohammad says the NRC is much more than a place to study because its outreach to the community helps him develop personally. Encouraged by a new strategic planning component of the Creative grant, Mohammad is planning to run for the NRC’s elected board to reinforce his own professional development.

Strategic planning and grant management are helping young members of this club broaden their knowledge and acquire new leadership skills for the future. “The new grant is necessary for the club. It creates new opportunities for youth and supports their development to lead the club in the future” says Sa’ed Al Natour, NRC’s chairperson. He adds: “The process of Strategic Planning helps club members apply what they learn in strategic planning to their practical lives whether in career or education. These young people’s involvement adds strategic value to planning activities and programs.”

CLEP’s participatory strategic planning phase began in August and now reaches 24 partners in 8 districts in the West Bank. The ‘Strategic Planning Phase’ is led by a committee of partners and community leaders. The Creative team accompanies the planning committee over a period of four months to produce a realistic strategic plan. This ensures that community members are fully engaged in the process and develop their leadership skills. Participatory planning allows each organization to realistically identify community needs, challenges, and opportunities in a working document that is owned by the entire community. Roles and responsibilities within the committee for project implementation are also reinforced.

Mohammad was one of three NRC volunteers at that first strategic planning meeting in the town of Salfit in the northern West Bank. Speaking with the other participants, Mohammed said, “You are talking about a living experience. I was very encouraged to attend and when I was told that Creative was going to help us with Strategic Planning.” He added that, “Strategic planning helps me in my life and career; I was very enthusiastic about this project. Had we been given a Strategic Planning course in high school I would have been better equipped to decide on my major in college. A strategic plan will also help me in my future career; how to decide what position I want to take and how to excel in my work. Life is built on the principle of strategic planning.” He concluded, “If I run for [club board] elections and know nothing it won’t work, but if I have a strategic plan this will help me.”

—Jack Melki, CLEP Communications Officer

This project is funded through the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Office of the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI). MEPI is a unique program designed to engage directly with and invest in the peoples of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). MEPI works to create vibrant partnerships with citizens to foster the development of pluralistic, participatory, and prosperous societies throughout the MENA region. MEPI partners with local, regional and international non-governmental organizations, the private sector, academic institutions, and governments. More information about MEPI can be found at: www.mepi.state.gov.

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