Collaborating Across Sectors to Achieve U.S. Foreign Policy Priorities

U.S. Department of State
Feb 21 · 5 min read

By: Thomas Debass, Managing Director, Office of Global Partnerships, U.S. Department of State.

As an office that understands the importance of private sector engagement to solve key global challenges, the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Global Partnerships, is excited to see an increased number of individuals across agencies and sectors gain understanding about the unique advantages public-private partnerships hold for unlocking resources and solutions to reach shared goals. Within the Department too, over time we’ve seen a multitude of bureaus and our U.S. embassies hungry for public-private partnership consultations and trainings. The understanding that collaboration across sectors is key to achieving our U.S. foreign policy goals is alive and well. This year, we are excited to continue sharing skills, resources, and networks to help uncover the keys for others to bring partnership ideas to life, as well as take nascent partnerships to the next level. Before we do just that, let’s reflect on a few of our favorite highlights from the past year:

WiSci (Women in Science) STEAM Camp

With two camps in 2018 and a growing list of locations in 2019, one of our flagship partnerships: WiSci (Women in Science) STEAM Camp is impacting more high school girls around the world than ever. In June, we went to Windhoek, Namibia, where 100 girls from the United States, Namibia, Ethiopia, Eswatini, and Kenya gathered for two weeks of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and design, and mathematics) education. In August, more coding, app development, and shared camaraderie was had in Tbilisi, Georgia, with 100 girls from Georgia, the United States, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. For both camps, founding partners, Intel and Girl Up, were right there with us, alongside Google. NASA and World Learning joined us in Namibia, while Microsoft and Millennium Challenge Corporation jumped on the WiSci Georgia train. Our incredible partnerships with these organizations have enabled hundreds of girls to advance their education and future careers, as well as gain lifelong cross-cultural experiences, increasing their levels of empathy for others from different backgrounds.

This year, our partner from the beginning, Girl Up at the United Nations Foundation, takes the reigns on the ongoing management and development of the camps, with World Learning as an implementing partner for another WiSci in Africa, this time in Ethiopia.

More camps to come this year in new regions! Take a glimpse at WiSci Georgia and stay tuned for applications for 2019 WiSci camps opening soon.

P3 Impact

We once again joined forces with Concordia and University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business Institute for Business in Society to honor another round of P3 Impact finalists and winners. The P3 Impact Award recognizes and honors leading public-private partnerships that are improving local communities and the world in the most impactful ways.

This past year’s finalists were:

Kosmos Innovation Center (Winner) harnesses the power of technology-savvy youth to bring innovation into priority development sectors by providing business training, mentorship, and other resources for young Ghanaian entrepreneurs.

MIPFuturo (Audience-Choice Winner) provides smallholder farmers in Guatemala access to a synthetic-free line of pesticide alternatives to combat pests and promote a healthier community and environment.

DREAMS Partnership is focused on reducing new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women in 10 sub-Saharan African countries.

Griha Pravesh aims to establish a sustainable ecosystem of affordable housing for disadvantaged communities in India.

Lake Kivu Coffee Alliance cultivates the re-emerging coffee industry in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Lake Kivu region and provides support and rehabilitation for victims of landmines and other explosive remnants of war.

Applications are now open for the 2019 P3 Impact Awards! We’re looking for partnerships of all phases of development. Learn more and apply.

Diplomacy Lab

Diplomacy Lab continues to thrive, enabling the Department to obtain research and innovation related to foreign policy challenges by leveraging the efforts of faculty-led teams of students at colleges and universities across the country. Projects range from detailed quantitative research to a range of topics such as entrepreneurship, food security, criminal justice and law enforcement, science and engineering, and global health. A new round of projects will be underway in the coming months. We look forward to seeing what solutions university students conjure up to address challenges in today’s foreign policy landscape.

Boldline

Perhaps the most exciting new initiative to emerge from our office last year is our Boldline P3 Accelerator for new and growing public-private partnerships (P3s). The three-day workshop is geared to help provide nonprofits, companies, and other organizations the skills and networks necessary to scale their partnership ideas or existing nascent partnerships. Boldline launched in February 2018 bringing in nine high caliber organizations like Johnson & Johnson and the Ocean Foundation, and a multitude of expert mentors from various backgrounds and sectors. Since Boldline began, many ideas have become reality and new public-private partnerships formed.

For subsequent iterations of the program, we focused the accelerator on a specific issue to maximize collaboration among participants and the overall impact of Boldline. We partnered with DRL’s International Religious Freedom office in October for a Boldline that convened five organizations and 40+ thought leaders in the religious freedom space to build and deploy strategic partnerships with the private sector.

This past December, alongside the Global Engagement Center (GEC), we brought in a third cohort of nine companies committed to partnering on tech-based ideas to combat foreign disinformation and propaganda. Over forty mentors participated throughout the three days to join in rapid ideation, design thinking, and offer feedback and guidance for the participating groups. Mentors and speakers included individuals from Google, Microsoft, Hewlett Foundation, CGI, USAID, PeaceTech Lab, and more. Opportunities like Boldline help generate solutions to current challenges and as a result, the Department of State has a strong alumni network keeping the momentum alive. We look forward to the new accelerator cohorts of 2019!

Through partnerships, programming, and networks like WiSci, P3 Impact, Diplomacy Lab, and Boldline, S/GP leveraged more than $2.8 million in private sector commitments in 2018. We look forward to continuing to be integral part of building upon the more than $200 million in public and private sector commitments the Department in total has leveraged over the last two years.

Would you like to join us?

We want to hear from you! Email partnerships@state.gov or visit www.state.gov/s/partnerships to learn more about the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Global Partnerships.


Editor’s Note: This entry originally appeared on DipNote.

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