Call for Applications, the Digital Steps Fellowship which supports Syrian organisations or initiatives to gain digital skills that will help increase their impact

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    Craig Zelizer

    The Digital Steps Fellowship supports Syrian organisations or initiatives to gain digital skills that will help increase their impact.

    Are you Syrian and working to promote peaceful values and diversity, counter violence, bridge divides, connect Syrians with the world, change how people view Syria, and create sustainable work opportunities? Apply below to receive a 9-month fellowship that helps you develop a concrete initiative that introduces technology and communications more strategically in your work.

    In times of adversity, we all become innovators. You have the ideas, we want to help them grow.

    Over 9 months, we will work with you on a concrete initiative to design, test and pilot a technology or communications tool or process. We will support you in four ways.

    Training. Fellows will come together for a joint, week-long training course on participatory methodologies, user-centered design, strategic communications, creative methods and conflict sensitivity.

    Mentorship. Each organisation or initiative will be assigned a lead mentor who provides project management support, technical advice and hands-on problem solving. The lead mentors are the glue that hold together the rest of the Fellowship components.

    Coaching. Each organisation or initiative will be paired with four coaches who have have skills or experience relevant to their work. Coaches will offer four one-hour calls over the course of the Fellowship to explore questions and share advice.

    Financial support. Fellows will receive financial support to cover some of the technical implementation costs of their initiative. The exact funding amount will be determined on a case-by-case basis depending on the specific needs of an initiative.

    Fellowship Details

    Who qualifies for the Fellowship?
    Fellowships are awarded to organisations or initiatives working for Syria. Fellows do not need to be based inside Syria, but must be working on issues relating to Syria. Civil society organisations, creative enterprises and social enterprises all qualify. Organisations or initiatives should apply with a team of two people. These two people must have the ability to legally travel to Beirut (with financial support from the program).

    What types of initiative are eligible?
    Fellowships are awarded to help a team develop a concrete initiative which introduces technology and communications more strategically in their work. Initiatives proposed for the fellowship should meet one of the following aims:

    • promoting peaceful values and diversity among Syrian communities, and countering sectarian division and violence
    • improving relations between host communities and displaced Syrians
    • challenging stereotypes and dominant narratives about the Syrian crisis, and sharing the experiences and perspectives of displaced Syrians with the wider world
    • networking and facilitating access of Syrians to local and international platforms
    • supporting sustainable livelihood opportunities for Syrians

    You will be asked to outline the initiative in your application. We will not consider applications that request capacity building in digital skills, but do not specify a concrete initiative they want to develop through the fellowship.

    What technology and communications tools and processes are relevant to this program?
    Any technology or communications tool or process that increases participation or furthers the reach of your work is relevant to this Fellowship. Relevant tools / processes might include information & data tools of all kinds (e.g. mobile data collection, digital maps); new media and communication tools (e.g. social media, radio-to-mobile); traditional media (e.g. film, radio); videogames and gamified apps, remote sensing (e.g. big data, drones), participatory video and photography, and various arts-based methodologies. This list is by no means exhaustive – we are interested in your creative ideas!

    How are applications evaluated?
    Applications will be assessed by an Advisory Group composed of experts in the use of technology and communications for social change. Applications will be evaluated according to the following selection criteria:

    • Demonstrates in-depth understanding of the Syrian context and ability to link to ongoing processes and stakeholders;
    • Is willing to engage in participatory design with relevant stakeholders;
    • Articulates theory of change for use of technology and communications;
    • Demonstrates team capacities to implement proposed initiative;
    • Will benefit from the training and support provided through the Fellowship (not only financial support);
    • Demonstrates ability to achieve meaningful milestone for the initiative within Fellowship timeframe.

    Five organisations or initiatives (with teams of two people each; ten people total) will be selected to participate in the program

    What can financial support be spent on?
    Each fellowship team will have a budget of up to 4000 GBP. Once selected, teams will agree the exact costs to be covered by this funding with their lead mentor. We expect funding to be spent on technical implementation costs of the concrete initiative. Funding cannot be used to cover staff time.

    How long does the fellowship last?
    The fellowship program lasts 9 months: it starts in July 2017 and ends in March 2018.

    Where will I be based for the Fellowship?
    You can be based anywhere in Lebanon or Syria. We will ask you to travel three times to Beirut, but you are not required to live in a particular location for the duration of the Fellowship.

    What happens after the Fellowship?
    Before the Fellowship ends, lead mentors will work with teams to outline a post-fellowship strategy that includes fundraising and networking to continue developing the initiative.

    Applications for the Digital Steps Fellowship are now open.

    For more details click here

    Deadline: June 11, 2017.


    The Digital Steps Fellowship is a collaboration between
    Build Up and the British Council Syria.

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