thecontactproject

Congratulations! This Entry has been selected as a semifinalist.

thecontactproject

Jos, NigeriaAustin, United States
Year Founded:
2007
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
Growth
Budget: 
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

thecontactproject assists individuals, organizations and communities in cultivating the capacities of listening, patience & respect...the essential tools for peace.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if listening, patience and respect could create a climate to address conflict without violence?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Why do over 76% of peace agreements fail? What is missing in our attempt to address conflict, difference and diversity? In Nigeria, multiple concerns ranging from Pastoralist/Farmer tensions to Christian/Muslim conflicts, and lack of infrastructure to youth unemployment create a climate of fear, anger, and distrust. Once peaceful communities are now experiencing crippling violence and conflict only adding to the cycles of despair.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Through our roving collaboration & cultivation stations, we facilitate workshops and teacher trainings ranging from three days to three weeks. Utilizing contemplative practices, systems thinking, and experiential & collaborative approaches, we address themes like identity, religion, culture and complexity to expand participants understanding of difference and provide a foundation for peacemakers to engage in their local communities as peace advocates. Our workshops are often paired with other partner led peace initiatives like Post Graduate Professional Trainings, and Conflict Management or Negotiation/Mediation certifications. We concentrate on cultivating listening, patience and respect as foundational skills for conflict transformation.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

In the fall of 2013, one of our participants, a Pastor and PhD from one of the Northern states, travelled eighteen hours to attend one of our workshops. During the The Engaged Identity (TEI) training, he shared a picture of one of the twelve members of his community who were killed in front of him the week before. He looked up and asked if we could make this stop. In Febraury of 2014, with our local Nigerian partners the CTS Peace Institute, we held a three day workshop in Yola, Adamawa. As violence was ravaging Yobe, Borno and Adamawa States and despite a state wide curfew limiting movement, 170 Christians and Muslims from four local governments and kingdoms came together to collaborate, train and share their interests in Peace.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

We reached 45 students in the fall of 2013, with programs partnering in three Nigeria states. During 2014, we have already reached over 180 participants in our first two months of programming. Over 77% of participants have reported the workshop as very important to their peacebuilding work and training. With 68% of students reporting effective changes in personal, professional and community conflict transformation efforts. Many of our students report the workshop has impacted their negotiation and mediation skills in particular. We are currently interviewing our 2013 participants to include narrative and qualitative evaluation at the post three and six month training marks. We have expanded our programming to five states, due to word of mouth and our participants interests in brining our programs to their communities.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Moving into the fall of 2014, we are ready to begin our growth phase to offer trainings of trainers (TOTs) in our partner communitites. In addition to our ongoing workshops, this offers Nigerians the opportunity to have locally directed and staffed programs providing replication, empowerment and ownership of the TEIP processes, and increase our impact potential. We are looking to launch our first TOTs in the fall of 2014 in areas with the greatest conflict concerns, Adamawa, Plateau, Kaduna, and Benue States. With a potential of 20-60 trainers in communtities by the 2015 National elections.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

With funding from local and state governments, we are able to provide trainings and workshops at little or no cost to our participants. We are now in discussion with the national Insititute of Peace & Conflict Resoultion (IPCR) and the national Nigerian NGO- APUDI looking at regional and national partnerships in addition to the renevue from our growth phase TOT curriculum.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Many INGO's and organziations are working on Peacebuilding initiatives in Nigeria, but thecontactproject provides an emphasis on the front end building of skill sets, while many initivaties focus on issues or specific violent conflict occurrences that focus on back results. To often, those results are short lived. Our programming is used as a stand alone process or as a partner process for other programs like conflict sensitivity and mediation training. We're teaching people HOW to engage with one another to form sustainable relationships in order to address conflict, diversity & difference
Team

Founding Story

Since I was 16, I've never lived anywhere longer than three years. Everywhere I went, I heard people talk about three things... Stories were about having them or not having them and how they determined the level of happines people found. They were Listening, Patience and Respect. So I went to back school, got a handful of degrees. And with one foot for courage and one for curiosity, set out to show how the cultivation of these three human abilities can change the way we view and value life.

Team

Dr. Joseph Maren Sampson, RETA Peace Institute, Plateau State; Dr. Ephraim Cheto, CTS Peace Institute, Adamawa State; Hon. Wale Fwa, Demsa Local Gov't Rep, Adamawa State; Dr. Ephraim Goje, Souther Kaduna People's Union (SOKAPU), Kaduna State; Bishop Nathan Inyom, Ecumenical Center for Justice and Peace (ECJP), Benue State; APUDI Peace, Unity and Development Intitative, Abuja, FCT.
About You
Organization:
thecontactproject
About You
About Your Organization
Organization Name

thecontactproject

Organization Country

, Austin

Country where this project is creating social impact

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Impact
Full Impact Potential: What are the main spread strategies moving forward? (Please consider geographic spread, policy reform, and independent replication/adoption of the idea or other mechanisms.)

We started in 2013 with one local partnership and after three months of programming, now start 2014 with our original partner and three new locally based organization representing Plateau, Benue, and Kaduna states. Having reaching 30 students last year, we are currently expecting over 100 students to attend our five trainngs in the Spring of 2014. We believe that with the continuation of these Nigerian partnerships and the addition of 2 teacher trainings in late 2014, we'll see a 35% increase in Nigerian participants begining in 2015. 2015 has us looking at Sri Lanka & Indonesia

Barriers: What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

Yes, well there is the money thing. We've been opporating with personal donations and honorariums for teachers in order to begin our 2013 pilot programs. Now, as were scaling our projects with more workshops, we also see the need for local volunteers and a part time US based office staff member. This year brings three new local Nigerian partnerships and we're hoping more visibility for funding and investors, based on successful M&E results. We're looking to create a sustainable business model in NIgeria with hopes to expand in early 2015 into Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

Sustainability
Partnerships: Tell us about your partnerships.

Currently, Reconciliation Trainers Africa (RETA), and in the Spring of 2014 Southern Kaduna People's Union (SOKAPU), the National Unity Assembly (NUA) and the Ecumenical Center for Justice & Peace (ECJP).

Closing the Loop
How does your project primarily ensure that feedback delivers results?

Facilitate a conversation that combines wisdom of the crowds with the perspective of experts.

Please elaborate on your answer to the above question.

We bring the themes of peacebuilding, complexity, and contemplation to the conversation and our participants act as co-teachers. Utilizing the wisdom of participants personal experiences and local knowledge to inform and ground our collaborative processes, so feedback loops provide both empowerment and increased skill sets to local peacebuilding efforts. Trainings and workshops inclusion of citizens, civil society, government and traditional leaders provides a foundation for immediate feedback and for future loops between participants.

Languages: In what languages are you able to read and write fluently?

English.

2nd Round Questions
Thinking about your feedback loop; what information are you trying to get from whom, to whom, and to bring about what change?

We assist and provide information from peacebuilding skills to conflict assessments. We're working with local, regional and national partnerships to develop peacebuilding analysis, mediation and dialogue skills at the ground level, while providing feedback loops from participants to aid in early warning and post conflict feedback for local government, security and traditional leaders for conflict transformation and sustainable relationships.

What is the purpose of your feedback loop?

Creating broader awareness of issue/movement building

If other, please specify
What mediums or mechanisms do you use to collect feedback? (check all that apply)

Paper, Phone or voice, Physical gathering, Other.

If other, please specify

Social Media and Surveys

Could you briefly describe the way you collect the feedback?

We're working with multiple loops. We collect via surveys, dialogue, questionnaires and interviews. But due to the collaborative process, indiviuals are creating their own feedback loops with workshop participants and their communtities via dialogue, phone, and paper. This systems thinking approach helps us adapt workshop materials to suit specific needs and contexts (educational, religious, ethnic) and expedites the spread of the feedback itself.

What mechanisms are in place to protect people from retribution?

Other

If other, please specify

Both anonymously and with participants choice to provide feedback during dialogues and workshops

What are the immediate benefits or incentives for people to provide feedback?

Other

If other, please specify

Their benefits are in the attempt to promote peaceful prove-solving and resolution to violent conflicts.

How do you ensure new and marginalized voices are heard?

Specific targeted outreach efforts

If other, please specify
What are the incentives for the intended recipient to act on the feedback?

They understand that feedback is necessary

If other, please specify
How does the feedback mechanism close the loop with those who provided feedback in the first place?

Other

If other, please specify

The inclusion of citizens, civil society, government and leadership provides one of our more immediate feedback loops.

How is feedback published/transparent?

Other

If other, please specify

P2P and reporting

Give two concrete examples of how feedback loops have brought a program or policy more in line with citizens’ desires.

Our work doesn't directly aim to, or monitor, influence on policy. We're using education of skills to inform a population on skills for human capacity development. It is their choice how to develop feedback loops to serve their communitites. We have been replicating our programs over the last six months within Nigeria at the inivitation of participants who have expressed the feedback loops generated have assists in deescalation of conflict, and the supported environments for development and education.

If there was one thing you could change to increase the impact of your feedback loop, what would it be?

Scaling our programing to the TOT stage. Currently, we are partnering with four local-based NGO's and one national Nigerian NGO. We are now ready to train trainers to take these workshops into their communities as community based peacebuilding education, advocacy and early warning workshops.

What are your biggest challenges or barriers in “closing the feedback loop”?

Other

If other, please specify

With the levels of corruption in Nigeria, on multiple levels, the challenge is having the feedback utilized and not manipulated.

Are you aware of The Feedback Store?

Yes, I am already on it

What are the main uses you can envision for the Feedback Store?

Providing our participants with information for Early Warning and First Response mechanisms prior to and during violent conflicts throughout Nigeria.

What is the one thing you would most like to see changed to improve the competition process?

I was curious about the process of entries from the entry to semi-finalist status. It was roughly 50% of entries that were granted as semi-finalists. A rather large percentage. I would appreciate understandning more about the selection process so I could learn more about the specifics of worthy entries as we are editing and elaoborating on our entries.

What are you doing to make sure that feedback providers know that they are empowered by the information they can give and that they know exactly what the information they are providing?

We're providing platforms for dialogue and training that include citizens, civil society organizations and government. These inclusive workshops and trainings are giving our participants both immediate and long term empowerment and control of their feedback. First, by allowing their voices and narratives to be heard in the first person and secondly, by allowing for a collaboration of parties, regardless of religious, ethinic or econmonic status to be apart of the dialogue in promoting peacebuilding skills, conflict sensitivity and development needs.

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