This past September, Shadhika staff and grantee partners gathered in Kolkata, India over three days for the second Shadhika Annual Partners Retreat. Made possible through the generous support of two donors, this annual event focuses on building the organizational and programmatic capacity of our partners by facilitating cross-learning, new skill development, discussion of common challenges, and the sharing of promising practices.
The retreat brings together senior program staff from each of the partner organizations Shadhika supports throughout India. For some of the participants, it is the first time they have had the opportunity to participate in a forum focused on building their skills in this way.
This year’s event focused on topics identified by our partners at last year’s retreat in Chennai. Topics included skill building sessions on grant-writing (including donor requirements and expectations) and how to make an effective presentation. Sites also shared what they were doing to provide Life Skills training to the girls they serve and shared feedback on Shadhika’s College Scholarship Program. Finally, Shadhika shared its research on international best practices for job readiness training programs.
“It was very exciting for us to interact with leaders of institutions who have been extensively and effectively impacting different communities through their projects on empowerment and education of women and girls. A great learning experience for us and we wish to incorporate certain best practices in our program!”
– Smriti Ghosh Paul, STOP India
In addition to skill building sessions, the retreat included a site visit to Uddami Computer Training Centre, Shadhika’s grantee partner organization in Kolkata, to understand their computer education and job readiness work with students from poor and marginalized backgrounds. Participants also had the opportunity to do some sightseeing in Kolkata, as many had never been to the city before.
Looking forward to our 2017 retreat next fall in Bangalore, participants expressed an interest in learning how each site is working with parents and communities to support girls’ empowerment as they are important gatekeepers to create an enabling, supportive environment for the girls we serve. Other topics of interest included learning about how sites are empowering girls to take action in their communities to advance girls’ rights, how they are working with boys and young men, and how they are teaching decision-making skills and self-confidence.
Shadhika’s annual partners retreat is a critical component of our strategy to invest in building the organizational capacity of our partners to increase their accountability, transparency, and impact. As part of our new strategic plan (see article in this issue), we will complement our annual retreat efforts by launching a small grants program for our partners to apply for funding support to work together on common issues, replicate one another’s programming, and/or work on key organizational issues such as board development, strategic planning, or financial management. If you’d like to support this cause in the coming year, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.