Advocacy & Leadership

Leaders working for change
Young people in Serbia form the universal recycling symbol as part of the Oplaneti se! recycling campaign

Advocacy & Leadership

At ISC, we embrace a broad definition of advocacy. Through our advocacy work, we give ordinary people—who are passionate about and committed to a cause—the tools, skills, and support they need to make their vision happen. We view advocacy as the practice through which all people can make their voices heard—not just specific advocacy organizations or policy makers.

Advocacy is the primary tool through which ISC enables, empowers, and encourages citizens to become involved in public life. When citizens advocate, they express their concerns and priorities, press for recognition of their rights, and insist on the importance of their voice in public policy. Because nonprofit organizations are the most direct means for citizens to actively participate in the public sphere, ISC’s programs place a major emphasis on increasing the capacity of the nonprofit sector (also called civil society).

Finding and nurturing leadership in ordinary people with passion and commitment is at the core of ISC’s advocacy work. We do this through state-of-the-art training programs as well as through hands-on coaching in which we provide our partners—nonprofit and government officials alike—with expert assistance designed to address their specific needs. Often this coaching takes place over the course of several months or years, in recognition that it takes time to create real and lasting change.

In 2011-2012, ISC is conducting a series of three Advocacy Fellows Programs for three cohorts of advocates in the fields of solid waste management, labor rights, and government accountability. Each Fellows Programs will bring members of a coalition of Serbian nonprofit organizations united around a single advocacy vision to the United States for an intensive two-week event that combines classroom learning and topical site visits, strategy sessions with American advocate -peers, and in-depth exploration of aspects of the U.S. regulatory and policy context relevant to their chosen issue. With expert facilitation by a Master Trainer, each group synthesizes the concepts and models presented by their US counterparts and works together to apply them to their own context. The immersive experience away from day-to-day workplace pressures offers participants a much-needed opportunity to reflect on their own practice both as individual practitioners and as a group. They leave as a stronger cohort, ready to collaborate at a whole new level.

Tangible Results

  • Alumni of our signature Advocacy Fellows Program have gone on to serve in the Ukrainian Parliament, to win the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for grassroots environmental activism, and to play leadership roles in the international anti-tobacco movement.

  • In 2010, we celebrated 15 years in Macedonia by completing our most recent project—the Civil Society Strengthening Program—designed to help a core group of nonprofits become strong leaders that can support the larger sector into the future.  The five-year program provided training, mentorship, and grants to 150 nonprofits in 34 cities—resulting in 120 local and national advocacy campaigns—and provided support to organizations throughout the Balkans.

  • As part of our civil society program in Serbia, ISC launched 10 Mobile Advocacy Schools which bring trainings on planning and carrying out compelling advocacy campaigns to 70 nonprofits working in ethnically mixed and economically underdeveloped communities throughout the country (most trainings are offered to larger nonprofits in Belgrade).

  • ISC is helping to develop the next generation of young leaders in Kosovo through our Summer Youth Leadership Academy. Run by Common Ground Consulting in partnership with ISC’s Kosovo office, the academy is a unique residential program for high schoolers who are dedicated to improving the lives of their peers in Kosovo. Through experiential learning, open dialogue sessions, workshops, and the development of micro-lending programs, the academy prepares young people to be effective leaders and agents of change.

Shaping Macedonia’s Future

In Spring 2010, ISC celebrated 15 years in Macedonia by completing a five-year project that helped make Macedonia’s civil society—the nonprofit sector—a more effective, influential, and permanent partner alongside government and businesses in shaping the country today and in the future.
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Serbia’s Green List

Twelve nonprofits in Serbia banded together with businesses, festival organizers, and even the Army to turn the tide on illegal dumping and inspire environmental awareness.
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Young Kosovars Reach for the Future

In August 2009, 23 young Kosovars gathered for the Kosovo Summer Youth Leadership Academy, a unique residential program for high school students who are dedicated to improving the lives of their peers in Europe's youngest country. The academy brought together a regionally and ethnically diverse mix of Kosovo’s youth, and helped prepare them to be effective leaders and agents of change in their home country.
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