Using our Expertise and Networks to Provide Training for Local Nonprofits

A great way for Rotary clubs to serve their community is to rely on their members’ expertise and networks to provide training for local nonprofits in areas where they need support. As part of my club’s pro bono initiative, we organized in February 2017 two half day training events for local nonprofits on (1) monitoring and evaluation and (2) communications. This post explains what we did, and why it worked.


In September 2016, we applied to the Capitol Hill Community Foundation for a grant to help us organize training events for local nonprofits. We received the grant in November and organized the training events in February. The events focused on 1) essentials of monitoring, evaluation, and cost-benefit analysis for nonprofits; and 2) essentials of communications, from websites to social media and power point presentations.  The training workshops were held at the main community center for our neighborhood in Washington, DC. The focus on monitoring, evaluation, and cost-benefit analysis as well as on communications stemmed from the fact that when interacting with local nonprofits, there appeared to be great demand for support in those areas.

In order to organize the training events, we relied on the expertise of members of our club as well as friends and colleagues from organizations based in Washington, DC. Instructors for the two training workshops included staff from the Center for Nonprofit Advancement, the Communication Center, Tanzen, the Urban Alliance, and the World Bank.  In addition, between the events (one workshop in the morning and the other the same day during the afternoon), we provided a lunch to participants of both workshops with a keynote address from the CEO of Grameen Foundation, a well-known organization providing micro-credit globally.

In order to promote the training events, we designed posters/fliers and shared them widely to potential participants using a variety of networks. As an example, we contacted local foundations so that they could share the information with their grantees. Registration was brisk, and we had to close registrations when we reached 150 participants. On the day itself, about 90 people attended, which was good for us given that our room had a capacity of 90. Note that when training events are free some people who register may not come – and we had factored this in. We also had competition from a gorgeous and sunny day. Many participants attended for the whole day, but some came for just one of the two training events.

Because we had great speakers who knew their subject matter well and were engaging as well as practical in their presentations, evaluations of the two events by participants were very encouraging. As shown in the table below, on a scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree), participants on average rated all dimensions of the training highly. This initiative overall was a great success for our club in terms of providing a valuable service to the community, and gaining in visibility as well. I encourage you to consider organizing similar events in your community.

Evaluation of the two training events by participants – scale from 1 to 5

M&E Comms
The training was well organized. 4.71 4.79
The topics covered were relevant. 4.65 4.68
Participation/interaction were encouraged. 4.44 4.58
The content was easy to follow. 4.50 4.89
The trainers were knowledgeable about the topics. 4.79 4.89
The trainers were well prepared. 4.74 4.89
The time allotted was sufficient for what was covered. 4.65 4.79
The lunch as well as the facilities were adequate. 4.56 4.68
This training experience will be useful to me. 4.68 4.84
I will come again if another training is organized. 4.62 4.79

I will recommend this type of training to others.

4.68 4.84


Free ebook 1 – Double Your Membership In Six Months: 10 Lessons from a Rotary Club Pilot

The first ebook in the Rotarian Economist Short Books Series has just been published. It provides 10 simple lessons for Rotary clubs to grow. The book is based on the success of the Rotary Club of Capitol Hill in doubling its membership in six months. The book is free and available here in multiple formats.  Please share this link widely for others to benefit from this resource. And if you like the book, please consider writing a quick review!


From websites to social media and power point presentations: Free training on communications on February 24, 2017 in Washington, DC

In my previous blog, I mentioned the first of two training events I am organizing in Washington, DC, on February 24, 2017 with my Rotary club. So here is the info for the second event on communications for nonprofits and others interested in the topic. We again have great instructors. The topics to be covered include communications, websites, social media, and even how to do great power point presentations. Previous background on communications is not required. Students (preferably at the graduate level) are also welcome.

The CEO of Grameen Foundation will be our keynote speaker for lunch, so participants to either event (M&E in the morning or communications in the afternoon) are welcome to stay for lunch. The training on communications will take place from 2 PM to 5:30 PM and the lunch will be from 12:30 PM to 2 PM). This is a free event thanks to support from the Capitol Hill Community Foundation. The event will be held at the Hill Center in Washington, DC.

Please don’t hesitate to share this announcement with others. And if you live in the Greater DC area and would like to participate in this event, please register at the following link (space is limited):


Education innovations for disadvantaged students in Washington DC

Can internship and mentorship programs help students graduate from high school and prepare them for colleges and careers? What type of support is needed for the most disadvantaged youth, including those who suffer from homelessness? Do tutoring programs help students learn? How can we improve the research, writing, and presentation skills of middle and high school students? 

These are some of the questions considered in a new series of briefs on innovations in education in the greater Washington DC, area of the United States.  The series is launched jointly by the World Bank Group’s (WBG) education team, the WBG Community Connections Program (the WBG’s outreach program to the local community), and the Rotary Club of Capitol Hill. We hope to contribute to better education outcomes not only in the DC area but also elsewhere by showcasing innovative programs that make a positive difference in the life of students and how well they learn.

Why focus on DC? The WBG’s mission is to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. While living standards in DC are better than in the developing work, poverty rates remain high and only about two thirds of students complete high school according to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education. While improvements have been achieved in recent years, innovations are needed to improve education and employment outcomes for disadvantaged children and youth.

The  briefs, in a small but meaningful way, will hopefully contribute to debates on how to improve education by featuring successful programs and policies. The programs and policies featured in the briefs will likely be relevant for other regions in the United States and developing countries with similar challenges.

The first set of briefs in the series feature non-profits that benefited from monitoring and evaluation grants from the WBG’s Community Connections Program or pro bono evaluation support provided by World Bank staff. The Latin America Youth Center (LAYC), One World Education, and the Urban Alliance are among the nonprofits featured in the briefs released on the occasion of the WBG’s Volunteer Awareness Day on May 10.

Below is a brief description of the work of the three organizations together with links to the briefs on these organizations.

LAYC: Some 17,400 young adults aged 18 – 24 who are from the Washington Metropolitan Area are disconnected from work and school. These youth are often from low-income families, are not in school, and are out of work. They typically face multiple challenges, including homelessness, issues with the courts, or substance abuse. These challenges prevent them from successfully transitioning into adulthood. LAYC uses an innovative approach called the ‘Promotor Pathway’ to target high-risk youth.  It’s a long-term, intensive, holistic case management and mentorship intervention which has led to positive changes in school enrollment, birth rates, and homelessness.

One World Education: During the 2015-16 school year, One World Education worked with District of Columbia Public Schools as a partner for the ‘Cornerstone’ initiative. Cornerstones are high-quality, in-depth core curricular experiences such as argumentative writing programs. Cornerstones aim to provide rigorous content to students, improved professional development for teachers, and continuity and consistency across grades and subjects. Some 5,200 students in 15 DC public schools in grades 10 and 12 have already participated in the One World Education programs.

Urban Alliance:  This non-profit organization, which operates in DC, Baltimore, Chicago, and Northern Virginia, facilitates the transition of disadvantage youth from high school to college to employment. It does so by running a comprehensive early employment program that provides access and exposure to professional networks for youth enrolled in the program. Urban Alliance staff train and mentor the students through their first professional employment opportunities, which help propel them to future success. Over 90 percent of Urban Alliance alumni go on to college. The WBG has participated in the Urban Alliance program since 1997 and supported over 300 students through internships. Results from an external evaluation suggest that the Urban Alliance program improves high school graduation rates and the likelihood that students will go to college after graduation.

The objective of the series of briefs is to document these and other successful programs, so that they can inform education policy and practice not only in DC, but also elsewhere. If you are living in the Greater Washington, DC, area and if you have an idea for a potential brief in the series, please let me know or post your idea in the comment section below.

This post is reproduced with minor changes from a post published by the author on May 9, 2016 on the World Bank Education for Global Development blog.



A Great Service Story for World Diabetes Day

by Quentin Wodon

Today is World Diabetes Day. Last week was World Interact Week.  This post is about a great project for children with diabetes in Bolivia that was supported by members of an Interact club in the United States.

Children and Youth Participants in Campo Amigo
Children and Youth Participants in Campo Amigo

Diabetes is a common and lifelong condition. In the US, 9.3% of the population has diabetes. Most patients (about 95%) have type 2 diabetes, which is often associated with genetics or obesity. By contrast, type 1 diabetes (also called juvenile diabetes) is an autoimmune disease whose exact cause remains unknown, but is likely related to viruses and genetics and has nothing to do with obesity.

Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed among children whose pancreas does not produce insulin anymore. Without insulin, blood sugars rise. Lack of treatment can lead to severe illness and death. Type 1 diabetes needs to be managed very carefully, but knowledge on how to take care of it is often weaker in low income communities.

Campo Amigo

In Santa Cruz in Bolivia, about 10% of the population, mostly low-income individuals, is said to be diabetic. As elsewhere type 1 diabetes affects mostly children. The cost of managing type 1 diabetes is high, and most families in poverty in Bolivia cannot afford to send their children to camps where they could learn how to manage their condition. Campo Amigo is unique grassroots educational initiative championed by local health professionals and volunteers under the leadership of Dr. Roxana Barbero to serve diabetic children through an annual four-day educational camp in Bolivia.

Learning to manage diabetes
Learning to manage diabetes

During the camp the children learn about diabetes (how to give themselves insulin doses, measure their blood sugars, eat healthy meals, do physical activities, etc.). The camp provides children not only with valuable training, but also with equipment such as glucose meters and medicine (insulin). The experience of the camp also helps fight the isolation in which some of the children with diabetes live. They can share experiences and feel part of a community that cares.

Music courtesy of participants
Music courtesy of participants

It Takes a Village…

Last year a few members of the Interact club of Washington DC raised $7,000 for Campo Amigo ($2,000 by themselves and $5,000 through an application for a grant from the International Service Committee of the Rotary Club of Washington, DC). To fundraise, two members of the Interact club completed a sprint triathlon, an international distance triathlon, a half marathon, and a long distance bike race. With two other members of the club, they also ran a marathon relay.

The camp was held in Muyurina Campus, Santa Cruz, on December 19-22, 2013. It was organized by Roxana and her team at the Programa de Enfermedades no Transmisibles del Servicio Departamental de Salud de Santa Cruz, and by Dr. Patricia Blanco from the Fundación Vida Plena de Cochabamba. The funding raised by members of the Interact club covered the cost of the camp which served 53 children and youth from many parts of the country, including La Paz, Cochabamba, Beni, and rural areas apart from Santa Cruz.

Campo Amigo is Fun!
Campo Amigo is Fun!

The partner Rotary club in Bolivia was the Rotary Club Amboró in Santa Cruz. Other partner organizations – especially in terms of volunteers to run the camp, included the Red Boliviana de Diabetes Juvenil, members of the Sociedad de Endocrinología, the Fundación Niño Feliz, and LifeScan for test strips and glucometers. In kind contributions were received from several firms, including Cascada del Oriente, TIGO, BELLCORP and Arcor, as well as Johnson and Johnson.

All staff running the camp worked as volunteers. A total of 19 doctors, three nurses and one psychologist volunteered. For that reason the cost of running the camp was very low. Housing and meals were provided at low cost thanks to a local NGO. The overall cost of attending the four-day camp was only slightly above $100 per child, including bus transportation from the child’s home (throughout Bolivia) to the camp, meals, lodging, and all diabetes equipment and medicine.

Campo Amigo is a great example of low cost and potentially high impact projects through which Interact, Rotaract, and Rotary clubs can make a difference on the ground by partnering with local teams with great experience and dedication.


Care for Burned Children

by Divya Wodon, Naina Wodon, and Quentin Wodon

Every year over seven million children suffer from burn injuries in South America, due in part to the widespread use of open fires for cooking. After joining the Rotary Club of Washington, DC in 2006, Mark Wilson joined with his wife a Rotary exchange program to Santiago, Chile. There he visited the COANIQUEM nonprofit center for burned children that was partially funded through a Rotary 3H grant. Impressed by the quality of their work, he became an active supporter, ultimately joining the center’s Board of Directors a few years ago.


COANIQUEM treats burned children for free. Treatment proceeds in four steps. The first part of the treatment focuses on the physical aspect of healing which includes plastic surgery, scar compression, and rehabilitation. The second part focuses on physiological damage, with psychologists and occupational therapists helping the child as well as their family. The third part is dedicated to education during the period when the child is receiving treatment, so that when they reenter school, they do not fall behind. The last part of the four step treatment plan is the provision of spiritual support to the child so that she/he can overcome all her scars, whether internal or external, and as a result become a stronger person. This is also important for parents who feel a great sense of guilt over these accidents. The average age of the children when they first come into the hospital is six, which means that the serious cases will need regular care for anther ten to twelve years until they stop growing.

COANIQUEM has three facilities to treat burned children mainly from Chile, but also from around Latin America. The Center also trains medical professionals on burn prevention and provides training literature. The cost of treatment per child with serious burns is typically around $1000 per year, of which $700 is for medical treatment and $300 for therapeutic treatment. Over the years Mark and the Washington DC Rotary club have helped secure $340,000 in funding for COANIQUEM’s activities.

When asked about the rewards of working on this project, Mark explained that “the children themselves are amazingly resilient and it makes you feel humbled when you are in the presence of kids who have been disfigured, and yet are cheery and happy around their doctors… It makes you appreciate what you have in your own life and it’s about time we all start to give something back” . When asked about the obstacles he has faced, his demeanor changed as he shared that “fundamentally it’s the frustration of not being able to do as much as you would like…the frustration is of wanting to do much more, to be able to generate the resources and the money to help COANIQUEM treat more kids”. Mark’s advice to Rotarians is that there are many forms of service. Just find one area that you are passionate about, and then you can step by step start to change the world.

Note: This story is reproduced with minor changes from a book published by the authors entitled Membership in Service Clubs: Rotary’s Experience (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).