I could not have imagined how inspired I would be after my first work retreat at Plan International USA’s Washington DC office with the Youth Advisory Board.
The impact Plan’s initiatives can have amazes me. I did not fathom that one organization could empower marginalized groups in so many places (more than 50 countries!) and in so many ways, from helping women in rural communities become economically independent by encouraging them to become entrepreneurs, to leading unemployed youth away from joining extreme violent organizations by creating workshops that give them skills needed by the job market.
I also realized how many challenges an organization like Plan faces. I was really surprised at how much effort and dedication it takes to fundraise for Plan’s programs. Three rejected fundraising proposals for every successful one is common in this space. And, to maintain a high reputation for future partnerships, Plan has to stay active in effectively advocating for and publicizing its work.
I was astonished at how much Plan staff want to hear from youth. I particularly remember the Youth Advisory Board’s meeting with Justin Fugle, Plan’s Senior Advisor for Policy and Program Outreach. He shared how the key to one of Plan’s clever and highly successful educational programs came down to asking affected girls what really stopped them from going to school. Learning the complexity of the issue from those Plan was serving gave them insights they couldn’t have acted on otherwise. This meeting, Justin was coming back to youth again to ask one of us to represent Plan at an upcoming panel discussion with the international development community in D.C. Wow. And Plan’s investment in youth perspective goes even further. In an upcoming partnership with Nickelodeon, Plan will send a Youth Advisory Board member as a representative. Before finalizing a new fundraising campaign, a team at Plan is also asking for our feedback.
Leaving the Youth Advisory Board’s January work retreat, I am humbled by the chance to contribute to Plan’s phenomenal progress. I hope my background in data analytics can bring new insights into the direction of Plan’s work. Just from our past retreat, I am already encouraged by the Youth Advisory Board’s adoption of analytics and our subcommittees’ commitment to new metrics to measure success!