The World Bank
A large multilateral development bank, The World Bank, has 189 member countries. With extensive operations around the globe, they routinely draw on consultants to assist with in-country work. However, in certain sectors and regions the demand for qualified local consultants outpaces the supply, as is the case for early childhood development in a number of African nations. Governments are interested in developing early years policies and programs and yet The World Bank didn’t have the sufficient local capacity to provide the necessary expertise in this area.
What kind of initiative could create a cohort of change agents to lead the next generation of early childhood development throughout Africa?
We kicked off the collaboration by working closely with the World Bank team to define the goals of program and develop a clear and compelling theory of change. We then listened and learned from the Fellows, who were incoming program participants, and World Bank in-country staff to understand their hopes, fears, and expectations before kicking off the experience. Interviewing staff from existing stand-out fellowship programs also helped us to explore what makes for a highly successful program (and what doesn’t!)
We then reframed our thinking based on the insights gained from our interviews and ideated around specific program components. Each stage of the project presented unique challenges. At the beginning of the program, it was important to create an experience that allowed the fellows to be proactive in their roles — engaging and providing value right from the start — but also supported them in being patient as they gained the trust of their new colleagues in-country. Once the program was underway, we had to consider the challenge of the 3 month cliff, a turning point where the adrenaline from starting the program starts to wear off and the Fellows are confronted with all of the challenges of the work ahead. And at the culmination of the program, we wanted the Fellows feel successful and celebrated while also connecting them to new opportunities in the sector once their placement with the Bank was complete.
In May 2017 we welcomed 17 Fellows to Washington, D.C. to kick off their Fellowship year with two weeks of capacity-building programming. They returned home to their countries of residence to begin the newly developed program comprised of a mosaic of multi-modal learning opportunities, peer-support mechanisms, and expert mentorship - all critical components of an experience tailored to support their growth and leadership in early childhood development.
20 Fellows embedded in 17 World Bank country offices and actively championing evidence-based and innovative early childhood policy and programs
As a result of the value and success of the program in its first year, the program has been extended for a second year and all 20 Fellows have been offered (and have accepted) a continuation of their placement.