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US extends funding to empower youth to protect human rights in Sri Lanka

The United States is offering funding for projects to empower youth to protect human rights in Sri Lanka.

The US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) announced an open competition for organisations interested in submitting applications for projects that empower young people in the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Sri Lanka.

DRL’s goal is expanded youth mobilisation, engagement, and participation in democratic reforms to uphold the protection of human rights in Sri Lanka. 

The bureau seeks proposals that support and enable Sri Lankan youth to play a critical role in ensuring an inclusive democratic society that is responsive to all its citizens. 

The program objectives are: 1) youth and youth-led organisations are empowered to address and respond to existing and new challenges to fundamental freedoms in Sri Lanka; and 2) youth and youth-led organisations have increased leadership skills and participation in addressing accountability, transparency, and inclusive governance processes.

Program activities could include, but are not limited to:

·         strengthening youth-led networks and broader civil society coalitions across political groups and marginalised communities

·         increasing the capacity of youth to take on leadership roles within civil society structures, including mentor-ship opportunities for youth;

·         supporting youth to be more meaningfully engaged in decision making processes in their communities, including peace building activities, constructive political engagement, and community-based problem solving;

·         providing youth skills-building opportunities such as: public fiscal management, procurement, and budget research; coalition building; negotiation; policy analysis, advocacy, and media and journalistic skills that strengthen critical analysis skills to counter the proliferation of mis- and disinformation;

·         peer-to-peer exchange program for young people to visit other parts of the country;

·         small grants for youth and marginalised groups to conduct smaller activities within their neighbourhoods, youth organisations, schools, and community groups;

·         inter generational dialogues to prepare youth to leverage their voices for advocacy and policy change.

For this program, the target demographic is youth between the ages of 18-30.  Competitive proposals will target youth with intersecting marginalised identities and youth beyond Colombo.

Where appropriate, competitive proposals may include:

·         Opportunities for beneficiaries to apply their new knowledge and skills in practical efforts;

·         Solicitation of feedback and suggestions from beneficiaries when developing activities in order to strengthen the sustainability of programs and participant ownership of project outcomes;

·         Input from participants on sustainability plans and systematic review of the plans throughout the life of the project, with adjustments made as necessary;

·         Inclusion of vulnerable populations;

·         Joint identification and definition of key concepts with relevant stakeholders and stakeholder input into project activities;

·         Systematic follow up with beneficiaries at specific intervals after the completion of activities to track how beneficiaries are retaining new knowledge as well as applying their new skills.

Activities that are not typically allowed include, but are not limited to:

·         The provision of humanitarian assistance;

·         English language instruction;

·         Development of high-tech computer or communications software and/or hardware;

·         Purely academic exchanges or fellowships;

·         External exchanges or fellowships lasting longer than six months;

·         Off-shore activities that are not clearly linked to in-country initiatives and impact or are not necessary per security concerns;

·         Theoretical explorations of human rights or democracy issues, including projects aimed primarily at research and evaluation that do not incorporate training or capacity-building for local civil society;

·         Micro-loans or similar small business development initiatives;

·         Initiatives directed towards a diaspora community rather than current residents of targeted countries.

Applications are due no later than 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time (EST), on Tuesday, April 12, 2022 on https://www.grants.gov/ or SAMS Domestic (https://mygrants.servicenowservices.com) under the announcement title “DRL Youth Empowered to Protect Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in Sri Lanka”

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