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NDI Launches Leadership Program Combining Technology and Democracy

Blake Harwood|

NDI is pleased to launch the Civic Tech Leadership Program in collaboration with Stanford University’s Center for Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL). The program aims to cultivate tech-empowered leaders and encourage cross-cultural collaboration between innovators in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and the United States. This action-oriented program will connect two audiences: civic activists who have an interest in using technology in their work and technology experts who wish to use their skills to build a more democratic and less corrupt world.

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Supported by the Aspen Institute’s Stevens Initiative with funding from the U.S. Department of State and Bezos Family Foundation, the program consists of three components: an online course, a virtual exchange on civic technology, and a study mission for winning participants to Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C. English and Arabic speakers will participate in a free and open online course offered by Stanford Online’s Technology for Accountability Lab, which includes discussion boards so participants can interact. The program is free and open to everyone. The course launches on August 9, 2016; registration is currently open.   

The course includes 22 videos on seven accountability topics in English and Arabic. Presentations are by leading civic technology experts, including Larry Diamond on the importance of transparency; NDI and Mourakiboun on election tech; Sunlight Foundation on political finance; Transparency International on beneficial ownership transparency; Brazil’s HackerLab; and Tunisia’s Al Bawsala on citizen engagement in legislatures. Some presenters will also appear in webcast question and answer sessions during the course. Participants will also have the opportunity to collaborate with each other on real-world projects. Individuals who complete course requirements will receive a statement of accomplishment from Stanford Online.

Participants in the course who are from the MENA region or the U.S., and 20 to 30 years old will be eligible to apply for a follow-on component — a virtual exchange on civic technology thatwill begin in October 2016. Participants in this second component will work together in groups to develop civic-tech project ideas based on what ideas and experiences they gained from the Technology for Accountability Lab course. Each group will develop a bilingual video to present their project idea with help from NDI resources and mentors.

Four of the best project teams from the virtual exchange will be selected for a final third component, an in-person study mission to Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C., to be held in January 2017, where participants will have an opportunity to meet decision makers, elected officials and civic tech leaders.

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