Program Director’s Message

Program Director’s Message

Dear LASER Network Members,

There are now more than 1,952 of you, from 54 countries. We thank you for joining our network. Our vision for this virtual space is to provide a community where you can meet up professionally and learn. A kind of mix between Research Gate and Match.com, where you can learn about funding opportunities, access the resources to be successful with those, and to find potential collaborators.

Aside from our imminent platform upgrade, we have the following to report:

LASER Research Translation Awards

  • Our East Africa awards, covering water security, food security and basic education for Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, will be announced within a couple of weeks, and will begin implementation. 
  • Our Colombia awards, focusing on integrated rural development, youth development, and the Venezuelan migrant crisis, will launch toward the end of the year. 
  • Vietnam applications have been received September 10th, and are under review.
  • We are excited to be finalizing our RFA for Ethiopia. This will request applications for Youth Civic Engagement and Leadership; and for Measurements and Predictors of Resilience. We expect to release this RFA by the end of October. 
  • A Global Request for Expressions of Interest (EOIs) will be released by January 10, 2021, and allow practitioner/researcher teams to submit applications by February 15, 2021. Our likely focus will be on applied research topics from among USAID priority sectors within a specific country with an active opportunity for research translation (i.e. existing USAID projects and programs), other than global health.  More information on that round to come early next year. Keep checking our LASER website. 
  • Beyond this year we envision smaller awards to build upon our advocacy and capacity for embedded research translation.

LASER Research for Development Workshops

Responding with a contingency for COVID-19, we plan to hold our R4D Workshops in Vietnam and in Ethiopia after we make the awards for those countries. 

What this means for LASER is that instead of holding a large event to promote the benefits of researcher-NGO practitioner partnerships in advance of our award rounds, we will use the post-award event to promote the projects we have funded as examples – to advocate to government ministries and donors for continued support for researcher-practitioner partnerships on key development challenges.  

Luckily we were able to visit Vietnam and Ethiopia before COVID travel restrictions took hold, and to carry out meetings and informational sessions with stakeholders in academic institutions, research centers, NGOs, government office, and the USAID missions for those countries. This means that we did have an opportunity to socialize our concept of embedded research translation, to discuss our award rounds, and to get feedback about our sector focus areas. 

We look forward to meeting more of our network members in person, in Vietnam, Ethiopia, and other countries to come. 

LASER continues to develop training resources for our members. One of the articles in this newsletter blog describes these new resources. Please do visit the Learning page of our site  and take advantage of these. And, we would be pleased to hear from you about your training needs. We have had requests for training on proposal writing, and this course is also under construction. If we know what our members need, we will respond. 

We are all of us still in some sort of lockdown, with restrictions on our movements and our abilities to travel, but even in this situation we can focus on new skills to move us forward professionally – with virtual interaction for new partnerships. LASER looks forward to being your partner in the years to come.

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