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Kharkiv Regional Youth NGO "Enlightening Initiative"


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Kharkiv Regional Youth NGO "Enlightening Initiative"

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NGO "Enlightening Initiative" aims to support Ukrainian youth on their path of career growth and personal development. Our target audience is Ukrainian people aged 16-30 years old, and our past projects primarily focused on the youth based in eastern regions of Ukraine. Our projects focus on enhancing youth employability, intercultural competences, media literacy skills and other transferable soft skills.

We dream to create an all-Ukrainian hub of career and educational opportunities, which would match each young person who turns to the hub with the opportunities suitable specifically to him/her and, afterwards, would guide the person through the application process. We focus on relevant skills and expertise rather than simply exchange, education opportunities or vacancies. The matching would be conducted using IT algorithms. Guiding and support would be conducted by our NGO members.

This way we hope to save the time of young people on processing a huge pool of youth opportunities which exponentially appear in Ukrainian social media channels as well as make the opportunities selection more efficient and targeted.

The problem we are trying to solve:

"Belonging to our target audience ourselves, NGO team members have experienced the lack of well-structured information about various career paths in Ukrainian realities. In particular, there is no focus on hard skills and expertise that a young professional should possess in order to succeed in his/her area regardless of an employer or country of residence.

There is a huge gap between employers, universities and candidates, particularly in the areas of social sciences, humanities and research. On the employer side, most job positions are targeted to find candidates who would complete specific tasks rather than possess strong expertise. On the employee side, most young people desire a high salary and freedom not focusing on their career growth prospects and professional knowledge they might be lacking. Thus, we would like to structure and share all our acquired expertise on career mapping, job search, formal and non-formal education, and provide a helicopter view on career paths and transferable skills in different professions for Ukrainians."

"As a result of unstructured career approach, lack of focus on skills and inefficient job search, many young Ukrainians struggle to get employed by occupation and with a decent salary. Some of them opt for employment in the top-trending highly-paid IT sector having not explored their aptitudes, career/life goals and skills, which would eventually result in fatigue and burnout.

The community of young people aged between 15 and 24 years old in the city of Kharkiv, where our NGO is based and which is considered to be the “student capital” of Ukraine, is exposed to unemployment at the extreme rate for Ukraine of 25,1% (according to the State Statistics Service of Ukraine). As concluded in the “Skills for a Modern Ukraine” report (2017), 60% percent of firms in the 4 key sectors in Ukrainian economy (agriculture, food processing, information technology [IT], and renewable energy) report that formal education institutions do not provide students with the skills that employers need. Skills explain more of the wage difference among youth (15-29) than other age groups."

The solution we are proposing:

"We propose to create a hub of career and educational opportunities with an IT-powered matching algorithm and in-person support. This hub would be realized in the form of a website, Telegram channel, Facebook and/or Instagram pages. We will:
1) aggregate relevant youth opportunities from other websites, channels, groups and organizations;
2) delete commercials;
3) launch an IT algorithm to filter by certain key words/professional areas;
4) provide recommendations to young people subscribed to our hub based on their requests;
5) make a daily review of opportunities with the focus on skills and career prospects;
6) provide in-person support with the career mapping, opportunities selection and application process on demand;
7) create an online course on career mapping, opportunities overview and application documents;
8) identify common skill gaps by area and recommend worldwide acknowledged educational resources to improve both hard and soft skills on our website;
9) establish partnerships with universities and organizations to both provide us with new opportunities directly and to promote our hub.

This will help young people to select career opportunities more efficiently, identify their personal skill gaps and improve their hard and soft skills to grow professionally in the desired area."

This project will create a free comprehensive resource for young people in Ukraine to get objective information on career development from their peers' perspective. This would be the first resource focusing on skills and expertise rather than simply exchange, education or vacancies.

"Steps already taken:
1) Telegram channel created, where IT algorithm automatically publishes opportunities from other Telegram channels (with references): https://t.me/enlight_hub.
2) Template of Daily review of opportunities with the focus on skills and career prospects is being developed.
3) Online course structure on career mapping, opportunities overview and application documents is being developed.

Steps to be taken, year 1:
4) Pull opportunities from more sources, i.e. websites, Facebook and Instagram groups, and other.
5) Appoint a team member to deal with regular feedback with subscribers and in-person support with the career mapping, opportunities selection and application process on demand.
6) Develop an IT algorithm to recognize and delete commercials.
7) Appoint a team member to write and publish Daily review of opportunities with the focus on skills and career prospects.
8) Develop an opportunities filter by certain key words/professional areas available to each subscriber.
9) Establish partnerships with universities and organizations to both provide us with opportunities directly and to promote our hub.
Steps to be taken, year 2:
10) Create Enlight Hub website, Facebook and Instagram page.
11) Appoint an SMM manager at Facebook and Instagram.
12) Analyse feedback and support requests in Year 1, identify common career development issues and skills gaps of Ukrainian youth and publish a report.
13) Based on the identified skill gaps in Year 1, create an online course on career mapping, opportunities overview and application documents, including recording educational videos.
14) Based on the identified skill gaps in Year 1, select worldwide acknowledged educational resources to improve both hard and soft skills (Coursera, business journals like The Economist, comprehensive textbooks and similar) and publish them on the website.
15) Promote Enlight Hub website, Facebook and Instagram pages with Google and Facebook ads, and SEO tools."

What success looks like for us:

"1) Most university students in Ukraine have heard about Enlight Hub.
2) Around 1K young people per month turn to us for guidance/support/consultations on career mapping, job search, skills upgrade and application process.
3) At least 10% of young people (having been guided) have successfully received a job offer, and/or been selected for an educational/career program to which they have applied.
4) We have a monthly number of 10K visitors/viewers/subscribers."

Where we are are based:

Kharkiv, Ukraine

Funding we are applying for:

$14,000 - $15,000 per year

How this funding will help us achieve our goals:

"1) Project personnel will receive minimum remuneration (project coordinator, article and reviews writer, IT specialist, feedback and in-person support manager, SMM manager, video recording and editing specialist).
2) Funds for website hosting purchase will be provided.
3) Funds will cover the expenses on project website and social media channels' content creation and promotion."

How this funding will strengthen our group:

"1) Our organization team members will obtain new skills in SEO optimization, Google and Facebook promotion, video recording and editing. We intend to take courses to obtain these skills ourselves rather than pay external experts. These skills will be applicable to promote our next NGO projects.
2) Team members will have a chance to structure and share their own career insights, which feels rewarding and empowering.
3) Team members will be more strongly committed to NGO projects as they will receive regular remuneration during the course of this project.
4) Organization will be promoted and reach a wider target audience."

How we gain by being a Spark Fund partner:

"Besides funding, we would appreciate educational resources on capacity development and possibly mentorship to help our team structure and manage this project more efficiently.

In addition, we would include and promote educational and grant opportunities from Spark Fund and your partners' network into the pool of relevant opportunities for Ukrainian youth.

Naturally, we would also benefit from any expertise exchange with another NGO or group conducting a similar project in another country."

How we would like to spend a grant through the Spark Fund:

"As described in the previous section, we would spend Spark Fund grant on:
1) minimum remuneration of the project personnel, including project coordinator, article and reviews writer, IT specialist, feedback and in-person support manager, SMM manager, video recording and editing specialist, online course content creator, accountant;
2) website hosting purchase;
3) project website and social media channels' content creation and promotion with Google and Facebook ads, and SEO tools;
4) courses for team members to obtain skills in SEO optimization, Google and Facebook promotion, video recording and editing;
5) consultations with external IT specialist on more advanced IT algorithms (text recognition to recognize and delete commercials, to develop a filter by certain key words and similar)."

Our Annual Income:

610 thousand UAH (on-purpose grants)

Our Organization Structure:

"Strategic decisions are made through open voting at the meetings with all NGO members. These are related to the priority directions of organization's work, initiating new projects and similar. In the event of equally divided votes, the final decision is made by the Head of NGO.

The decisions related to specific projects are made by a project manager in concert with the project team."

"Any organization member can initiate a new project on their topic of interest and receive functional support from NGO team.

NGO members are responsible for their areas of NGO work, based on their expertise and professional interests. Specifically, such functional areas are established as social media marketing, grant management, event organization and IT support. Team members specializing in these areas contribute to all NGO's projects with their expertise. Their work is coordinated by the project manager, who can be any of the team members. Head of Organization provides guidance and support to team members' projects on demand."

"We are youth-led and youth-focused. The Head of Organization is 24 years old, our team members are aged 16-33 years old.

We consider this both an advantage and a challenge. Being youth-led provides an advantage of flexibility and adaptability. On the other hand, we have little professional experience and have made many project management mistakes because of little expertise in certain areas. In addition, we have a huge staff turnover because many young team members leave any activities on a volunteering basis to work full time or to study abroad."

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