This news follows an exciting few months of working alongside The Global Fund for Children (GFC) to identify the outstanding grassroots organisations who would go on to receive US$20,000 in unrestricted funding and tailored capacity building support.
As the Programme Officer for Asia-Pacific, where three of the five Global Rising Stars are based, this is an exciting new way for us to offer further support to outstanding local organisations not otherwise eligible for our flagship programme, the Stars Impact Awards.
The Global Rising Star candidates considered in this year's pilot came from GFC's existing portfolio of grantees; all highly regarded by the GFC team as 'rising stars' within the child development sector.
An initial shortlist was put forward by GFC to complete Stars' application form.
The applications were assessed by Stars’ Programme Officers (myself included), looking at the delivery and impact of their work, but also at the wider management systems and practices in place within each organisation.
A Stars-wide moderation session allowed Programme Officers across geographies to discuss our recommendations and compare. We also used this opportunity to draw on the GFC team for additional information and context, where required.
The final shortlist was sent to both foundations' trustees for approval, and unsuccessful applicants were sent constructive feedback on their applications.
This process was an exciting departure from the cyclical nature of the Impact Awards, complementing and building on the strength of that process, while also forcing us to work in new and different ways.
Working alongside the other Stars Programme Officers to assess and compare applications – the Impact Awards, on the other hand, are assessed within their own respective regions – gave me the opportunity to learn from my colleagues, both regarding their assessments of local NGOs and presentation of findings.
It also revealed to me the realities facing local NGOs outside of the Asia-Pacific region. It is striking just how common some of the challenges are, despite these NGOs operating in vastly different parts of the world.
Importantly, this collaboration has allowed Stars to share and learn with another like-minded organisation; not just regarding the technicalities of our selection process, but on a more fundamental level as a grantmaker to local NGOs - something Stars values deeply.
The relationship with The Global Fund for Children's Programmes team has been particularly rewarding, enriching our understanding of countries we don't yet have a track record of awarding in. For example, learning about the limited availability of domestic funding in Kazakhstan, part of the reason local Kazakh NGOs are priced out of our Impact Awards eligible applicant pool.
Since deciding on the final shortlist, we've been working with GFC to identify how best to track the impact of this new award scheme, using a combination of each of our existing processes to capture impact and learning.
Most significantly, however, this partnership has allowed Stars to effectively (and efficiently) reach out to smaller, grassroots organisations that are leading the way in responding to the local needs faced by disadvantaged children within their communities; a need which is commonly identified by existing Impact Award applicants as a huge gap in the sector.
While we realise our collaboration is only a small drop in a very big ocean, we hope that our learning from this collaboration will build momentum in support of grassroots organisations providing local responses to the needs of disadvantaged children – be it through the Global Rising Stars model or through similar initiatives.
Meanwhile, this year's Global Rising Stars all offer smart, needs-led solutions to the issues identified, working with other stakeholders (such as government and local business) to strengthen existing services and create changes in attitude around stigmatised issues, such as disability and gender.
We look forward to seeing how our investment of flexible funding and capacity building support helps these outstanding organisations flourish further.
To find out more about the first ever Global Rising Stars, please see their profiles here.