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USAID/Belarus Community Connections turned 15: key facts (the text version of infographics)

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Community Connections – ComCon

Community Connection (ComCon) is a USAID-funded and implemented immersive exchange program for Belarusian professionals from the private sector, civil society, and local government.

Belarusian professionals travel to the United States for three weeks, live with an American family, and engage in a tailored program featuring a combination of professional and cultural events.

They participate in site visits, meetings with American experts, trainings, interactive workshops, festivals, volunteerism, and sports. At home ComCon alumni develop new initiatives.

 

775 participants,19 states, 30 U.S. locations

ComCon participants by U.S. state:

California – 30

Illinois – 80

Iowa – 49

Kentucky – 10

Maryland – 49

Massachusetts – 20

Michigan – 80

Mississippi – 10

Missouri – 30

Nevada – 40

New York – 20

North Carolina – 78

Ohio – 120

Oklahoma – 30

Oregon – 30

Pennsylvania – 10

Vermont – 49

Washington, DC – 30

Wisconsin – 10

 

512 women, 263 men

 

15 years, 78 topics, 92 home towns of the ComCon participants

 

The ComCom participants by their professional sphere:

Civil society organizations and local initiatives – 305

Business – 182

Education – 139

Local authorities – 129

Mass media – 20 

 

ComCon participants by location in Belarus:

 

Minsk – 480

Brest region – 73

Viciebsk region – 46

Homiel region – 62

Hrodna region – 36

Mahiliou region – 29

Minsk region – 49

 

“One will find something in this program that will really help her or him to become inspired and motivated to take initiative and stay active.”

“The visit gave me a valuable opportunity to gain my own volunteering experience, absorb ideas about involving other people in significant projects, borrow American practices of uniting people in professional communities, and implement creative initiatives.”

CCP participants by themes:

Support to NGOs and Local Community Development – 188

Cultural and Environmental Development and other areas – 80

Supporting People with Disabilities – 79

Regional Economic Development – 60

Business Education, Entrepreneurship Training – 60

Small Business and Entrepreneurship Development – 59

Supporting Vulnerable Children and Youth – 50

Innovative Business Development – 40

Women’s Empowerment – 30

Modern Approaches to Health Protection – 30

Financial Literacy – 20

Journalism – 20

Social Entrepreneurship – 20

Corporate Social Responsibility – 20

Domestic Violence Prevention – 19

 

USAID ComCon history in Belarus

2013-2019:

  • 75,000 people in Belarus learned from ComCon participants when they shared their knowledge or experiences
  • 965 projects/initiatives implemented within the first half-year upon return
  • 6,000 new personal and professional connections made

 

Timeline

2006 – USAID started running ComCon in Belarus

2007-2008 – “Senior Friend” program by Katerina Kovrova based on the U.S. “Big Brother, Big Sister” model: tutorial supervision to institutionalized children and children in foster care in Belarus

2010 – “Snowball” program brought from the United States: using international methodology for prevention of substance abuse among youth (Natalia Kobrinets’ initiative)

2012 – First journalists group

2013 – ComCon alumna Ina Karnei held TEDx Conference in Minsk

2014 – Mediation theme followed by annual International Mediation fest based in Belarus

2015 – Olga Matukhova created a Family Support Center based on the prototype of the Jewish Family Day Center in St. Louis 

2016 – A series of exchanges on innovative business and venture funding development started 

2017 – Grass roots representatives participated in the program. Local projects on urban development

2018 – Center of Active Longevity opening by ComCon alumna Elena Dzemidava

2019 – Launch of a new bank financial support program for local small and medium businesses including social enterprises with Yuliya Kavetskaya’s leadership 

2020 – Suspension of visits due to global pandemic

2021 – 10 virtual education programs as a temporary alternative. Topics: “Inclusive Education”, “Developing Entrepreneurial Capacities in Youth”, “Media Literacy during the COVID-19 Infodemic”, “Gateway to Healthy Parenting”, etc.

Themes 2022:

1.Mentorship for Business Development 

2. Promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Education for Schoolchildren

3. Impact Entrepreneurship

4. Leadership and Entrepreneurship Education for Children 

5. Innovation-based Entrepreneurship 

6. Independent Living and Prevention of Institutionalization of Persons with Disabilities 

7. Inclusive Education 

 

People-to-people ties between our nations

Photo: Community Connections’ participants are learning the experience of providing services to children with disabilities in Reno, Nevada, the United States, 2018

Source: USAID/Belarus

Infographics: Vadim Shmygov

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Facebook – @USAIDBelarus

www.usaid.gov/belarus

Last updated: December 16, 2021

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