We are now into the second month of the 2014 Impact Awards selection process.
At this time of year, I always look forward to learning more about the wide range of programmatic themes and approaches showcased in the current set of applications; not just between the categories of Health, Education, Protection and WASH, but also within them.
While this can certainly lead to debate amongst the Stars Programmes Team, independent panel and Trustees as we draw closer to a decision, I strongly believe that having broad categories ultimately allows Stars to support organisations working on whichever thematic and programmatic interventions best serve the particular needs of specific local communities.
The perfect example of this lies in the recent announcement of the 2013 Impact Award Winners, when Stars awarded not one but two Education winners in the Asia-Pacific region.
This was the first time we have ever awarded two organisations in one category. But with an opportunity to reallocate funding, the Trustees were able to award two exceptional local organisations working in very different contexts in very different countries to provide access to education for vulnerable children and young people.
Child Welfare Scheme Nepal works with children and young people in Western Nepal to improve access to education, encourage their development, protect them from exploitation and increase their participation in decision-making. Its interventions include early education centres in remote Nepali villages and a vocational training centre for marginalised young people, offering valuable training and employment opportunities and a second chance in life.
Krousar Thmey is based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and was founded to enable the social integration of deaf and blind children through education, the arts and support in accordance with each child's traditions and beliefs. The organisation operates in 14 provinces across Cambodia, running five special schools to meet the needs of deaf and blind children from kindergarten through to high school. It also runs 36 integrated classes in rural areas. Krousar Thmey has a braille workshop and sign language committee that adapt learning resources for universities and has introduced live signing to national TV news broadcasts.
Education is one of the most popular Impact Awards categories, and the competition is often fierce.
We were fortunate that we could award two organisations whose programmatic focuses and approaches differ. But while they do operate under different contexts and seek change in different ways, what unites these two organisations – in fact, what unites all our Award winners – is the organisational strengths that enable such achievements.
In the case of the 2013 Education winners, both demonstrated clear strategic direction, a strong commitment to ensuring continuity and sustainability of services, a passionate and highly capable team, robust child protection policies and systems… the list goes on!
Looking ahead to the outcome of the 2014 Awards, I am sure we will have some challenging decisions to make as we grow closer to determining the winners in each category.
But for 2013 at least, I'm pleased we have been able to support both of these outstanding organisations.