True Roots offers customized education and training programs on themes related to international development, project management, impact measurement, and ethical value chains. True Roots hosted one such workshop, “International Cooperation, Project Management, and Methodologies for Change,” in collaboration with the University of Veracruz Faculty of Sociology in Xalapa, Mexico. The five-day workshop brought together 24 participants, including Sociology professors, alumni, and professionals from nonprofit organizations. The workshop surged from a desire to bridge the gap that has widened over the past few decades between Mexican academia and civil society, creating competition for seemingly scarce national and local community development resources.
Facilitators José Luis Zárate and Summer Lewis designed the workshop to address the timely question voiced by both academics and nonprofit professionals: how can we approach, engage, understand, and meet the expectations of international donor organizations?
Topics explored during the workshop included:
- Current trends in corporate funding of civil society organizations and social projects, including value chain-based projects.
- Strategies for demonstrating project impact: monitoring and evaluation, quantitative and qualitative measurement tools, and participatory development techniques.
- Tips for effective nonprofit management and team building, fundraising, and marketing.
The goal of the workshop was not just to provide information and tools necessary to navigate the modern international development realm, but to also encourage participants to consider the philosophical and practical implications of current trends and strategies. José Luis and Summer also used the workshop space to motivate participants to seek collaboration and to widen their networks—to consolidate forces in order to generate a deeper impact.
Following the workshop, participants shared their reflections on the experience:
“The workshop not only encouraged reflection on our purpose, goals, and objectives in the professional realm—but also on a personal level, starting from a base of honesty, simplicity, and strength.” – Karina A. Ybarra Martínez, Intercultural University of Veracruz
“…I had never heard about the most significant change methodology with the detail that Summer and José Luis shared. On previous occasions I tried to learn more about indicators and evaluation, but honestly, these always seemed confusing and complicated. But their perspective makes impact measurement much easier.” – Diana Rosario Flores Ramírez, Akelarre Collective
“What I liked the best were the facilitators’ attitude—always ready to listen and to help, with a sense of humor. [José Luis and Summer] are talented at motivating and making every session an experience that rouses participants to gather, organize, and to take action. I loved the presentation on advice for nonprofits, because nobody ever talks about these details, but they are so important for the success of an organization.” – Layda Jacqueline Estrada Bautista, Akelarre Collective