Local Solutions for Local Problems

Story highlights.

  • Launch of the Research Policy Talks series in the Research Department
  • Talks are meant to bring together a body of research based on a theme and present its implications for policy.
  • Features one of the department's cross-cutting research themes: the "science of delivery," which researchers define broadly as effective delivery of development, including aid, and service delivery

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim has urged staff to improve the “science of delivery” in development. But the “delivery,” or implementation, isn’t exact science: it’s also art, which requires crafting local solutions to local problems as the basis for building effective public institutions.   That’s the main message from the Policy Research Talk on June 25, a monthly series by the World Bank’s research department hosted by Director of Research Asli Demirguc-Kunt. Michael Woolcock, the department’s lead social development specialist, spoke at the Bank’s headquarters to a standing-room only audience, including researchers, operational staff and others from outside of the Bank. “Our goal is to bring innovative and thought-provoking research to our operational colleagues, so we can work with them to help improve development outcomes,” Demirguc-Kunt said.

Effective development is no easy task. As development creates new winners and losers, Woolcock said, it unleashes the familiar processes of “creative destruction,” which affects not only firms but people’s livelihoods, identities and aspirations, as well as the power structures governing their lives. Existing forms of authority don’t go quietly, creating new frictions. This can be seen even at the village level. In Vanuatu, for example, illiterate village elders reported being mocked by their newly educated daughters. Succeeding in girls’ education, which everyone supports, has unwittingly undermined the legitimacy of village leadership systems, and thus its capacity to resolve difficult disputes.

“The more we succeed in development, the harder it gets, because the process brings uneven success and failure,” he said. “And citizens become increasingly aware of the gap between their expectations and their everyday experience.” On a larger scale, the tensions we see today in countries like Egypt, Turkey and Brazil are examples of these uneven transformational processes playing themselves out.

The key challenge, Woolcock said, is to build robust, legitimate public institutions to manage these seismic transformations, and to ensure that basic services are actually provided. Building such institutions is especially important, because research has shown that the quality of governing institutions in most developing countries isn’t improving at all, he said. Some can’t even perform basic functions like delivering the mail. If succeeding in development creates tensions, so too can persistent development failures lead to prolonged conflict and extreme violence, and undermine the credibility of broader development goals.

Woolcock supports a gradual, context-specific approach to boosting a country’s administrative capabilities. Rather than seeking “best practice” solutions adopted from elsewhere to problems determined by outsiders, the approach Woolcock advocates seeks to begin with locally nominated and prioritized problems as the basis for crafting “best fit” local solutions. In short, Woolcock said, success leads to effective institutions, not the other way around. And, because it takes time to bring about change, those who set development goals for governance should be in it for the long haul.

This approach requires field research and extensive, ongoing engagement with local governments and organizations. It also means finding positive examples of problem solving in the local context. “Someone somewhere probably has a better way. Find them, learn, iterate and adapt, and share your ideas with the community of practice,” Woolcock said.

Asli Demirguc-Kunt

To turn his research into practice, Woolcock co-founded the Bank’s Justice for the Poor program, a joint initiative with the Legal Vice Presidency and Social Development Department. Recognizing that many societies are governed by unwritten rules systems, the program doesn’t try to bring about greater “compatibility” between those systems and Western legal institutions. Instead, it focuses on generating context-specific evidence to better understand how the existing systems operate, and supporting the creation of institutions that give otherwise marginalized groups a stronger voice in managing the conflicts – conflicts that inherently accompany processes of institutional change. (See Contesting Development , Yale University Press).

He is not alone. Vijayendra Rao, a lead economist in the research department, has set up a Social Observatory (SO) in India which is creating holistic and dynamic learning systems for project implementation. Working with operational colleagues, he supports the Bank's multibillion-dollar portfolio of livelihoods projects in India by helping to conduct high quality impact evaluations, develop effective monitoring systems, and design relevant case studies and innovations, such as the use of rigorous qualitative analysis and behavioral tools for project assessment and learning.

“Taking context seriously, which requires tapping into the full range of human knowledge and experience, is hard to do, but not impossible,” Woolcock said. “This type of work can be a valuable complement to, not a substitute for, the Bank’s current work.”

Junaid Ahmad, sector director of sustainable development in the Bank’s East and North Africa Region, was a discussant at the lecture. He said Woolcock’s research shows that it’s difficult to prescribe one-size-fits-all solutions while designing knowledge-management systems in institutions like the World Bank. As an example of successful “global practices,” he mentioned the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program, with local teams delivering effective solutions based on local context. “Knowledge about development is best learned and adapted at grassroots levels,” he said.

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Global Problem, Local Solutions

Global Problem, Local Solutions

HKS' Arctic Initiative leans on expertise of residents on climate change initiatives

The Harvard Gazette

By Clea Simon, Harvard Correspondent

The late Massachusetts congressman Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill once famously declared, "All politics is local."

Much the same could be said about climate activism.

Take the Arctic Initiative , a joint project of the Environment and Natural Resources Program and the Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program at the Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, which leans on local expertise for a wide array of potential policy solutions.

Such efforts are vital, said Halla Hrund Logadóttir, a fellow in the Environment and Natural Resources Program and a co-founder of the initiative, because of the broad ramifications of climate change on the lives of Arctic peoples, and the world. As polar ice melts ever faster, raising sea levels and changing weather patterns worldwide, "What happens in the Arctic absolutely does not stay in the Arctic," she said.

But even as traditional modes of life are being altered, perhaps irrevocably, new avenues of commerce and exploration are opening up. Once-ice-bound sea-lanes are now navigable, and the Arctic's vast mineral resources are increasingly accessible, presenting new opportunities and dangers for the fragile ecosystem and the people who live there.

"Coming from a small community in Iceland, I knew how difficult it is to try to solve these big questions on your own," said Logadóttir. "Through the lens of the Arctic Initiative, we are looking at how do we do this right. We are trying, through our research programs and education, to improve knowledge and science and to feature knowledge and science in our decision-making."

As a first step, Henry Lee , who co-leads the initiative with Logadóttir and John P. Holdren , Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy, asked: "How can you leverage local knowledge and advance ideas that are helpful?"

While Harvard can share its policy know-how, working with communities on everything from how best to craft strategies and statements to modeling different approaches to problem-solving, local input is vital. Lee, who is also the Jassim M. Jaidah Family Director of the Environment and Natural Resources Program, gave the example of a beautifully engineered sustainable energy project — "a really great windmill" — that looked perfect on paper but failed to consider actual Arctic conditions. "If you try to put it up in Alaska, the wires freeze and the gears freeze," he said. "You need a different kind of engineering."

Joel Clement, an Arctic Initiative senior fellow, focuses on resilience. An associate with the Stockholm Environment Institute and a senior fellow with the Union of Concerned Scientists, Clement, who served in the Department of the Interior for seven years, is currently working closely with the Sustainable Development Working Group of the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum of indigenous peoples, on such issues as food security, health, and community well-being. "We're doing research at Harvard into how does governance affect resilience and how can we improve investment in resilient practices at the community level," he said. "We want to make sure that we're engaging fully with indigenous people in the North."

With such collaboration in mind, the initiative has multiple cooperative projects underway, bringing together Harvard students and indigenous youth around the world and working with groups like the Association of World Reindeer Herders on specific concerns.

That association, which is currently largely chaired by the Saami people of Sweden, includes herders from across the region. Despite their shared concerns, however, even within this group issues vary. "The ramifications of climate change on folks who are in Northern Siberia are slightly different from those in Sweden," said Brittany Janis, project coordinator for the Arctic Initiative. "They have a very deep understanding of their local work and their local needs. Our goal is to give local leaders who already have so much knowledge some more tools and skill sets."

Last fall, the initiative invited indigenous female leaders from across the region to Harvard. Gunn-Britt Retter, head of the Arctic and Environmental Unit of the Saami Council; Deenaalee Hodgdon, Brown University student and indigenous activist, a Deg Hit'an Athabaskan and Sugpiaq woman from the villages of Anvik and South Naknek, Alaska; and Raina Thiele, a former Obama official who focused on tribal governments and climate and arctic issues and is founder and president of Thiele Strategies. She was born and raised in Alaska and is Dena'ina Athabascan and Yup'ikas, all met with students and joined Clement in a public forum on how their communities are adapting to climate change.

Other events, including a workshop on "Policy and Action on Plastic in the Arctic Ocean," have brought together a diverse array of participants, from academics to the corporate world, as well as representatives from indigenous peoples and governments from the eight Arctic nations, and observers.

The initiative is also laying the groundwork for ongoing ventures. In her course "Policy and Social Innovations for a Changing Arctic," now in its second year, Logadóttir introduces students to the concerns of the region. "How do we make sure we are responding to these changes in a sustainable way?"

In the process, she teaches the class of 15 that the theory must remain connected to the reality of the locality it is meant to serve. Working on project "challenges," which range from fire and forestry issues to renewable energy, she focuses on the necessity of collaboration. "The students work with mentors from the Arctic on an idea that can help solve one of the Arctic challenges."

Although a trip to Greenland planned for this spring has been moved online, Logadóttir sees this as a positive. "It's even better now we're doing it all online," she said. "We're meeting with Greenlandic leaders. Students are meeting their peers in Greenland. This is a huge opportunity."

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10 Community Problems and 10 Solutions

We all live and interact in communities of various sizes. Our towns and cities are the communities most people think of, but we also work in communities, go to school and/or take our kids to schools that have their own community structures, and we usually belong to various social and recreational communities too. As a person and parent living on this planet of finite resources, I’m very focused on solutions and approaches that make our communities more sustainable. As the Director of the One Community Global nonprofit , I’m also interested in community solutions that can be applied globally.

With this in mind, here are 10 common community problems and 10 solutions. If you’d like information on how One Community is integrating these into ultra-sustainable communities that will function as self-sufficient and self-replicating teacher/demonstration hubs , click the related icons.


Large-scale applications for global change.

Duplicable food infrastructure designed to produce food that is grown on-site. Food grown this way will be fresher and can be produced without pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. In addition, it will be more diverse than what people find in the grocery store because it is grown as part of our open source botanical garden model .


Duplicable energy infrastructure including solar , wind , and hydro to help people eliminate their power bills and be a source of revenue for those still connected to the grid. Also, built to evolve and grow with the evolution and expansion of new technologies too.


If the above plugin doesn't allow fullscreen, try a different browser. If that or anything else still isn't working for you, you can download a copy of the above book here:  Book PDF download (128 MB)


Duplicable education models designed for all ages, built to exceed traditional educational standards, and modifiable for application in a homeschooling environment, a traditional schooling environment, or for use as a complete community-based private schooling program.


Duplicable social architecture and recreation models built within “ True Community ” and designed to provide a more enriching and fulfilling living experience . All on-site, freely available, and providing more activity diversity than most metropolitan areas.


Duplicable for-profit and non-profit business infrastructure that prioritizes cooperation and collaboration over competition. Resource based economy application and a model for sharing it globally .


Duplicable “Highest Good” approaches to all aspects of life . This includes community and individually applicable lifestyle considerations and small and large-scale recycling, reuse, and repurposing options for all areas: paper , plastic , glass , polystyrene/styrofoam , clothing/cloth , food and other perishable items , and even non-recyclables .


Transportation is another common community challenge. It includes cost of ownership and maintenance, parking and other space needs, and vehicle contributions to the climate crisis. Co-ownership, ride sharing, alternative transportation (bike, scooter, moped, etc.), and public transportation are all common solutions to this. The larger the community participating, the more effective and convenient these solutions all are.

DIY duplicable housing infrastructure designed to demonstrate community and localized living with almost everything a person needs or would want within walking distance. Models like these will eliminate the need for regular car use, but everyone will still have access to a car anytime they need or want one.


Values differences are arguably the most destructive community challenge. Religion, politics, lifestyle preferences, dietary preferences, how to raise kids, pets, etc. can all be areas where people passionately differ in their opinions and perspectives. If unresolvable conflicts are arising, your values differences may not be sustainable. One way to address this is to choose to focus on the areas you agree. A second way is to be more transparent with your values and primarily build community with others who share them.

Duplicable and adaptable values structures based on compassion, kindness, and what we call living and creating for “ The Highest Good of All .”


Almost everyone can look at the list above and see something they would like to implement but find really challenging. Some would even like to implement all of these ideas, but how? Local, national, and global communities are the answer. Groups of people will find it easier to implement these solutions, even the individual ones. Find a group or start one, there are so many resources out there and every action makes a difference. The bigger the community, the bigger the difference.

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Solving local problems with local solutions.

Narantuya Gursed, called Nara, is the social entrepreneur in our 16th Capability Program to Mongolia. She has co-founded the NGO Ecosoum. Its vision is to empower rural communities to become autonomous and resilient. In this interview, Nara explains the importance of local solutions and what Ecosoum plans to create in the community of Khishig-Undur.

how can we solve local problems

Nara (right) founded Ecosum together with her husband Pierre (left).

Nara, you believe in the power of community!

Yes! I do believe that it is extremely important to spread the communal spirit in the world. When communities realize their power, you don´t need big structures and multinationals.

In many villages of the world, there is enough vegetable production to make them self-sufficient in the production of their own food. But more and more communities have become dependent on big food industries and vendors. The only thing they need is better management and support for producing their own food and finding local solutions to their needs. That´s why we need to empower small communities!

Why did you decide to apply for BOOKBRIDGE?

I was contacted by Tunga from BOOKBRIDGE Mongolia and asked if we could work together somehow in the future. When reading more about BOOKBRIDGE, I really liked the local aspect as well as the focus on financial sustainability.

For us, it is important that small actors work together. This is something that BOOKBRIDGE represents as they work with local people to achieve change in communities. As I believe that we have to be present at place if we want to create some impact, this approach aligns with my principles. Also, we don´t want to exclusively rely on donors so the concept of financial sustainability was appealing to me.

Finally, the program itself with its professional and personal growth aspects attracted me very much.

What is your vision?

Our NGO Ecosum is based in Khishig-Undur, the village I come from. I founded it in 2018 together with my husband to help our village become as autonomous and resilient as possible. Our vision is to find local solutions for local problems by involving local people. We think that whatever comes in the future, small communities should be able to cater for their own needs.

how can we solve local problems

A Mongolian nomad family living in the region of Khishig-Undur.

For solving local issues, we must ask the locals – they know their needs better than anyone else. Sometimes what a community needs is just a little push and support in a specific field. No need for big money, no need for large international organizations.

Our organization is just a facilitator: we write project proposals, talk to investors and donors – everything that is more difficult to do for the locals. We integrate them in these processes to help them to improve their skills.

In Khishig-Undur there are 3,200 inhabitants, 2,200 of them live as herders in the countryside and the rest in the village center. This is a typical socio-economic structure for Mongolia. That´s why we believe that if our approach works in our village it will work everywhere in Mongolia.

We started by asking the local population to learn what they wanted us to work on first. The answer was: waste management. So this is the first project we are working on. But we also work on sustainable development, education, sustainable herding and eco construction, everything that contributes to the autonomous and sustainable development of our village.

how can we solve local problems

The village of Khishig-Undur

The program has just started. What do you think about it?

I am very optimistic about the outcome of the program. We feel that there is a big opportunity to realize our vision and that we can profit enormously from the team members. We feel the energy and willingness to work on this project.

Which highlight in the program did you have so far?

As this program has been launched during Corona lockdown, we had limiting factors from the beginning, i.e. replacing physical meetings with virtual ones. Of course, meeting each other online is not the same but we are all ready to do our part and overcome the current challenges. So, for me the highlight is the shared willingness and shared excitement about solving the problems.

Where do you see yourself and your project in one year?

In one year, I would like the community to see the first positive results. My goal is to find a cooperative and collaborative approach so this will take some time and effort. I don´t think that everyone will be persuaded from the beginning until the first results are visible. But if the first people have realized the benefits there will be more people joining the project. The more lessons we will have learnt, the more knowledge we can share.

Who are your stakeholders?

We are already in contact with local service providers/producers and farmers. To get to know more about the stakeholders we planned to do a survey among the inhabitants to identify the community’s needs. Based on the results we will choose the main stakeholders and hold interviews to specify the needs. The local support is extremely important.

Waste management is one of the first projects we started to work on with finances from the EU. In Mongolia, waste management or recycling is extremely limited and open dumpsites are the reality. For this project we already have implementation partners. If we do this successfully in our village, we can duplicate it in other communities in Mongolia. We have already done some efforts such as constructing a small plastic recycling machine, creating informative guides and handbooks to explain the importance of recycling to people.

The concept of good waste management has to be introduced. We want to show the public and the government that it is possible to do it with local initiatives and structures, – if we empower people even a rural community is able to implement such a project.

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Strategic Planning

How to solve local government challenges with a strategic plan.

how can we solve local problems

By Cara Ong

20 april 2017.

how can we solve local problems

  • 1 Challenge #1: The municipality is in decline
  • 2 Challenge #2: The municipality is in transition
  • 3 Challenge #3: The municipality is growing
  • 4 Challenge #4: Municipal resources are tight

Local governments face many challenges on a regular basis, and each of these challenges has the potential to pose a threat to a municipality on their road to progress. With a strategic plan in place, local governments are able to tackle these issues head-on and get on the path to high-performance and provide the best possible service for their citizens.

Here are 4 of the challenges that many local governments are faced with on a regular basis, along with some suggestions on how to overcome them…

Challenge #1: The municipality is in decline

If there has been a continuous migration out from the municipality for several years, a large inactive population, little to no income generating opportunities for residents, or lack of sufficient transportation, the municipality is in decline.

Helpful questions to ask when formulating a solution:

  • What conditions or actions could create a turnaround?
  • Are there options to connect the municipality to other urban centres?
  • How can we consolidate resources to make the municipality viable for the remaining population?
  • How can we adapt services to ensure provision of essential municipal services at lower cost?

Challenge #2: The municipality is in transition

If you’ve had unemployment skyrocket due to a local shutdown of industries or businesses that residents have relied on, industrial heritage buildings or projects taking up valuable real estate that could be used to generate revenue, or labour skills are too focussed on the old industries tying the hands of your residents, your municipality is undergoing a transition. There may be real opportunities, people with great ideas, and new businesses opening, but as a city you’re at a crossroads.

  • How can we assist the transformation?
  • How can we transform old industrial locations into new spaces for modern living, working and culture?
  • How can we adapt the local skill base to meet the requirements of a modern economy?
  • What can we do to encourage new ideas and new business?

Challenge #3: The municipality is growing

The municipality is successful and booming and residents are moving closer to the city center. But, the existing infrastructure is increasingly becoming inadequate and cannot keep up with the growth. Although urban sprawl is great for the economy, and municipality long-term, development and planning costs can take over a municipality and its budget.

  • How can we provide adequate services and infrastructure for a growing number of people?
  • How can we maintain and ensure quality of life and environmental standards for a growing population?
  • How can we ensure social integration and cohesion?

Challenge #4: Municipal resources are tight

This situation could easily occur in any of the above mentioned contexts. The municipality does not have the means to generate sufficient income, and/or the municipality is not using its resources efficiently.

  • How can we generate more income?
  • How can we make tax collection more effective without driving residents away?
  • How can we deliver more with less?
  • Are we wasting money anywhere?
  • How can we invest to be financially safe in the future?
  • What can be done to become more efficient?

If you have any of the above-mentioned issues — or all of them — you need a strategic plan to help keep the city you love organized. Municipalities need to learn how to compete as businesses do, and position themselves strategically in order to provide the quality of life, jobs and services that attract businesses and people, and keep those who are already there.

Whether or not the right strategic plan is in place could very well be the deciding factor between a municipality’s prosperity or eventual decline. Envisio is a cloud-based strategic plan implementation, performance measures tracking and reporting platform that helps align your strategic and operational plans, saving your staff time when tracking and reporting on progress. To learn more, be sure to schedule a free demo with one of our strategy experts!

Cara has over 15 years of experience in business and product management. She is a highly organized, results-driven, strategic executive and entrepreneur with a positive attitude towards work and life. Cara is passionate about helping organizations find effective solutions and providing forward-thinking strategies to help them achieve their goals of operational efficiency. In her free time, Cara enjoys acrylic painting and golf.


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3 global issues governments can solve at a local level

Ahmad Yassin al-Ali and Fawza Umri's children eat together inside their tent, at Atmeh camp, near the Turkish border, Syria June 13, 2020. Picture taken June 13, 2020.

Poor nutrition during the first 1,000 days of life can cause irreversible damage. Image:  REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi.

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Hans-paul bürkner, janmejaya sinha, trish stroman.

how can we solve local problems

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Solving Local Government Challenges: Regional Service Delivery

Featured on the ICMA Knowledge Network!

Working together to accomplish what we cannot do individually is not a new concept. However, when resources are scarce, the concept of sharing becomes more practical and more popular. Whether it be our homes, vehicles or our parking spaces, a “sharing economy” can create economic advantage and solve problems.

A shared model for government services, called regional service delivery, is having a similar effect for local governments across America. By sharing and consolidating services, a growing number of local governments are providing faster service, cutting costs and streamlining processes. Regional service delivery is customizable and allows local governments to determine how to most effectively collaborate and pool resources. This “sharing economy” is a means to help governments deliver the services their citizens require on an as-needed basis. As a result of sharing solutions, citizens enjoy real benefits without incurring long term costs or tax increases.

Historically, jurisdictions create their own system and structure to meet their service needs such as building permits, code compliance inspections, and administrative support. This individualized approach to service delivery works, but can become challenging to efficiently and effectively maintain. Often jurisdictions struggle to find and retain qualified staff, have trouble keeping staff current on important guidelines and training, and are faced with seasonality in their workload needs. Fortunately, the municipal services required are common across America, allowing the implementation of shared solutions through a regional service delivery approach. This method provides as-needed services from a centralized pool of experts. For some, this may be the full array of services while others will choose a customized bundle of services which meet their unique or seasonal needs.

As you consider regional service delivery, here are three common questions that local governments need to consider.

Can we afford this solution?

Cost concerns over implementation and operation are the some of the leading reasons that localities do not explore regional service delivery. However, this concern is inaccurate since it has no hidden or out-of-pocket expenses. Instead of retainer fees or reliance on tax dollars, this pay-as-you-go model is funded by the users paying fees associated with their service needs.

To accomplish this, an external service provider works with the locality to establish fee structures which will sustain the cost of the service. By establishing a pricing model which covers actual costs, many governments have discovered a means to eliminate deficit spending and charge users the real costs of a service such as a building inspection.

Localities using this model often find unexpected savings since they no longer carry employee benefit costs and they reduce overall demands on their human resource departments. Since HR typically make up significant portion of government expenses, this reduction is significant. Regional service delivery also reduces the soft costs of training and certifications as well as removing insurance and liability costs as this risk is now transferred to the external service provider.

The flexibility of this approach provides value for localities. “It provides us access to top quality people without maintaining full-time employees that may be underutilized during slow times of development,” noted Michael Webb, City Manager for Edwardsville, Kansas.

How can a collaborative approach meet the unique needs of my local government?

Every region and government is unique in some way so it is natural for people to view this as a cookie-cutter approach which will limit them in some way. However, those who are using the model have found that it delivers the flexibility they need.

Georgia Nesselrode is the Director of Local Government Service for the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC), which provides regional shared services for 9 counties and 119 cities in the states of Kansas and Missouri. MARC entered into an agreement with the Institute for Building Technology and Safety (IBTS) to provide regional service delivery in November of 2013. She notes, “While many of our larger cities and counties have the capacity to handle these services in house, this program will provide a cost-effective option for those that need additional support. Local governments are all looking for ways to operate more efficiently and save money while still offering quality services, and the IBTS agreement will give them additional options that they might not be able to provide on their own.”

The agreement that MARC has with IBTS allows interested jurisdictions to choose their service needs in an a la carte manner. In this model, the external service provider assists jurisdictions with a range of needs, from augmentation to providing the full building department function. Solutions are flexible, can change quickly, are provided on an as-needed basis, and are custom-designed to meet the needs of the locality. Since the regional service approach provides access to a large pool of highly qualified experts, this solution expands the capacity of local governments.

One of the most beneficial results of regional service delivery is the elimination of the RFP process. This is available when a local regional council of governments (COG), or quasi-government organization holds a Master Agreement for services. Jurisdictions which are involved in this approach simplify administrative processes by purchasing off of the COG’s procurement process. These groups have already vetted the service provider and negotiated best pricing structures. This allows the COG to use size and leverage purchasing power on behalf of many municipalities which also provides financial savings.

Can this model keep my financial records separate?

Many governments believe that a collaborative solution will result in a loss of autonomy in areas like decision making authority or finances. However, actual users of regional service delivery find that this is not true. While certain service aspects, such as customer service portals and fee payments, are delivered through a common interface, the technology also allows for clear separation of costs for every participant.

Like the growth of the “sharing economy,” regional service delivery options have grown substantially in recent years. This service delivery approach is being discussed at many national governmental association conferences and is being implemented in many regions of our nation. However, it still has room to grow and will do so as municipal leaders assess how a customized solution could fit their unique needs.

Regional service delivery is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Jurisdictions served by MARC have individually determined how to effectively utilize the benefits of this model. As a result, they are experiencing increased flexibility, higher levels of customer service and jurisdictional autonomy. The advantages of eliminating duplicate service deliveries have yielded immediate financial advantage. In addition, citizens are experiencing the benefits of having certified experts and governments are drastically reducing their risk liability.

If we seek different results, we need to do things differently. This model will not solve every local government need. However, it is a viable, sustainable solution that is currently under-utilized. Whether the use is small or full-scale, most jurisdictions will benefit from some aspect of the regional service delivery approach.

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Tackling Global Problems with Local Solutions

How solving problems locally promotes more sustainable and self-sufficient communities.

Tackling Global Problems with Local Solutions

People once had to rely almost solely on their local environment to meet all their needs.

It provided water and nourishment, supplied housing and energy, and supported community.

Communities also developed the knowledge and expertise to solve environmental and social problems locally. In her essay "Let Us Begin with Courage," Okanagan wisdom keeper Jeanette Armstrong writes:

To the Okanagan people, as to all peoples practicing bioregional self-sufficient economies, the realization that the total community must be engaged in order to attain sustainability comes as a result of surviving together for thousands of years. The practical aspects of willing teamwork within a whole-community system clearly emerged from having to cooperate in order to survive.

With global transport and worldwide communication, we can now look well beyond our immediate surroundings to meet our needs and provide answers to our problems. When we do, we often exacerbate problems like pollution, resource depletion, and economic inequality. We also lose the skills needed for self-sufficiency.

Educators David Gruenewald and Gregory Smith write, "What has served our species well in the past, could serve us well in the future if we relinquish the modern tendency to impose universal solutions upon the infinite variability of both people and the planet." They add, "Local diversity lies at the heart of humanity's biological and cultural success" ( Place-Based Education in the Global Age: 2008, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates).

Locally based solutions — like buying food and provisions from nearby sources, removing invasive species, or creating decentralized energy systems—help to move communities toward sustainability. Students practice this strategy when they become involved in finding solutions to issues on campus and participate in problem solving with citizens in their local communities.


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View of one of the many informal settlements the city of Surabaya, Indonesia has upgraded since the 1960s with input and participation from residents. Photo by Peter Edelman.

To Fix City Slums, Don't Just Knock Them Down: Involve Residents in Upgrading Efforts

  • Towards a More Equal City
  • public participation

Membaca blog ini dalam Bahasa Indonesia

Many cities, particularly in developing countries, have large areas of informal settlements — poor neighborhoods that grew organically, but which often lack structurally sound buildings and services like running water, sanitation and waste management. The traditional approach to upgrading these informal settlements (often called slums), which consists of razing and reconstructing without residents' consent or participation, doesn't work.

For much of the 20th century, cities have managed slum upgrading with little or no consultation with residents themselves. Many cities' preferred solution to fixing deteriorating slum conditions and affordable housing shortages has been to simply knock slums down and rebuild in the most cost-effective way possible, usually on the city's outskirts. But this practice doesn't consider residents' sense of home and place, their employment and social networks, the availability of basic services, and in general, does not actually improve affordable housing options. In such cases, residents often need to spend more on transport and on coping with gaps in services.

Some cities are adopting new approaches. Surabaya, Indonesia introduced an innovative housing program in 1969 — the Kampung Improvement Program — which transformed the way residents of poor, traditional neighborhoods called kampung lived in the city. Though not perfect, this program became one of the earliest examples of successful slum upgrading in the world.

Surabaya's Inclusive Approach to Indonesia's Urban Housing Problem

Indonesia has grappled with rapid urbanization and the proliferation of city slums for decades. Since independence from the Dutch in 1945, Indonesian cities have grown quickly. Their populations are currently growing by 4.1% per year on average — the fastest urbanization rate in Asia. Yet spending on basic infrastructure and services remains inadequate. While the economy grew 5.8% per year in the mid-2000s, infrastructure investments only grew by 3% each year. In 2009, 23% of Indonesia's urban population was still living in informal settlements .

In the traditional model of slum upgrading, new high- or mid-rise apartment buildings replace informal settlements — but they don't stop new slums from forming nor do they increase residential density and available housing by much. Knocking down slums can also displace residents, in effect just shifting slums from the city center to its periphery, which exacerbates urban sprawl and limits people's access to services. To combat these challenges, Surabaya took a new approach.

The Kampung Improvement Program, a participatory, on-site approach to upgrading poor, traditional neighborhoods in Surabaya like this one, became an international model. Photo by Ashok Das.

Between 1969-1998, Surabaya championed the Kampung Improvement Program, an international model of participatory, on-site slum upgrading: a research-backed method for ensuring adequate, secure and affordable housing in global South cities. Part of the program's success was due to close collaboration between the local government and experts from the university, Sepuluh Nopember Institute of Technology. Participatory upgrading puts residents at the heart of decision-making and day-to-day upgrades, using community-sourced data to identify and prioritize residents' most critical needs.

Surabaya was able to raise outside funding from development organizations, including the World Bank, to provide basic infrastructure such as gutters, paved footpaths, stormwater drainage, public toilets, waste management and primary schools. On top of physical interventions, the city empowered individuals to participate in planning processes and upgrading their homes. Communities typically contributed between one-third and one-half of upgrade costs. Residents also helped with the ongoing operation and management of projects like piped water and roads, which created a greater sense of neighborhood ownership and agency.

An Uncertain Future for Surabaya's Informal Settlements

The Kampung Improvement Projects have been good for Surabaya . Residents have benefited from improved access to basic services, structurally sound houses and shops, a healthy local environment, and a sense of pride and ownership over their neighborhoods. This isn't to say that the program has solved all of Surabaya's housing problems, but the policy of on-site upgrading has improved the lives of the poor while respecting personal and cultural preferences for their homes and neighborhoods.

Through the Kampung Improvement Program, residents of Surabaya's poor neighborhoods have benefited from improved infrastructure and services, better buildings and a healthier environment. Photo by Axel Drainville/Flickr.

However, new challenges threaten Surabaya's legacy, including rising demand for land and infrastructure and a shift away from Kampung Improvement Projects to public rental houses known as rusunawa . Since the late 1980s, developers in Surabaya have favored large-scale projects that push out and price out low-income residents — a problem that many cities face. Surabaya's outward expansion has outpaced improvements to the struggling public transportation network, limiting many residents' access to jobs, healthcare and schools. Compounding the problem are biases against the growing migrant population, city resource constraints, and an emphasis on overly technocratic urban planning that glosses over social issues. Surabaya will have to overcome these challenges if it is to continue providing affordable housing to its growing population.

How Can Cities Preserve Affordable Housing While Providing Services and Opportunities?

Improving the urban poor's quality of life and access to services can improve a city's economy, environment, public health, education levels, and more. In fact, upgrading slums in place to be safer, more livable and more resilient against climate change is written into the New Urban Agenda , a global standard for sustainable urban development.

Other countries have adopted similar programs. In Thailand, the Baan Mankong program provided loans to informal communities to invest in sustainable redevelopment projects. This led to a nearly 20% rise in the number of people living in durable homes in the country. Mumbai, India has moved away from razing slums to embrace participatory and on-site upgrading, championed by an alliance between an NGO and two civil society organizations representing slum dwellers.

Solutions common to these programs include:

  • Prioritizing on-site, incremental upgrades . To avoid the worst effects of gentrification and urban expansion, cities should invest in incremental improvement projects (whether those include basic infrastructure like paved roads or piped water, or resources for families to upgrade their homes themselves ) instead of steamrollering informal settlements and reconstructing them wholesale.
  • Ensuring vulnerable groups have a voice . Informal residents, squatters, migrants, people with disabilities, and women, among others, should be front and center in policymaking processes so that new policies for housing and urban services meet the needs of the most vulnerable.
  • Partnering with NGOs and academic institutions . Surabaya's successful partnership with its Institute of Technology exemplifies how symbiotic relationships between different urban actors can fill knowledge gaps, facilitate innovation, and build up capacity for positive change.
  • Improving transport networks. Cities should improve their transportation networks to ensure access for low-income communities. Building complete streets that work for all users (not just cars), focusing resources on integrated, user-oriented public transport, and managing demand for private vehicles can help ensure vulnerable residents' equitable access to opportunities .
  • Avoiding displacement of residents and improving access to services. Cities should limit high-end development that displaces low-income residents to the periphery of the city, far from essential services. Ensuring reliable and affordable access to energy, water and sanitation infrastructure, and connecting these communities to the broader citywide network of jobs and services can help transform cities so that they work for all residents . This also helps those who work at home operate safely and productively , supporting the larger urban economy.

Paved roads and footpaths were important upgrades the Kampung Improvement Program brought to Surabaya's informal settlements, with full participation from residents. Photo by Ashok Das

For rapidly growing cities in developing and emerging economies, addressing affordable housing and curbing unmanaged urban expansion are urgent problems. Upgrading slums, which already provide affordable if inadequate housing — with input from the people who actually live in these neighborhoods — is an essential part of the solution.

Learn more about inclusive upgrading of informal settlements in the new case study from our World Resources Report, Towards a More Equal City .

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The search for unity: 4 ways Americans can bridge our racial and political divisions

We often lack the national leadership and public vocabulary needed to solve problems. as a result, we have to find solutions in our communities..

Sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois wrote in 1903 that “the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line.”

A new survey about U.S. politics shows that race still complicates how Americans address civic and socioeconomic challenges 118 years later — and partisanship continues to influence the problem now, as it has for generations.

While Republicans, Democrats, independents and apolitical respondents to the survey are united in their desire to break through the wall of divisiveness, 7 out of 10 Americans believe that our political, social and racial divisions are driven from the top down by politicians and news outlets. It is one reason why only 14% of Americans believe politicians will cross the political line to solve problems over the next decade.

Our nation too often lacks national leadership or a public vocabulary to build a pathway of trust to solve problems. As a result, we have to find it in our local communities. Yet political partisanship, and more so race, influences so much of how we address such challenges.

According to the new Public Agenda/USA TODAY Hidden Common Ground survey, we are more united in our belief that divisiveness is a major problem than we are in a pathway to remedy it.  

After reading the report, I offer four pathways to help us curb the divisiveness that hinders our efforts to address civic and socioeconomic challenges:

► Humanize people rather than harmonize party.  We invented political parties to articulate our views — not to invent views for us to fight over.

According to the survey, 71% of Americans believe we have more common ground than one would assume based on the vitriol of our political language. And this is true across the board with Democrats (65%), independents (76%), Republicans (76%) and apolitical people (70%). Black, Hispanic and white majorities believe the same.

That is why people of different races and parties are working together to address real problems in communities across the country. Partisanship is too high a bar to leap over now. What is in our reach, however, is partnership.

And like a biblical Noah gathering animals in pairs to sail the waters of uncertainty in his time, we political animals must become pragmatic people working in public-private partnerships in our quest to improve society.

Focus on problems, not people

► See the problem as the enemy.  Let’s use the Capitol Hill riot on Jan. 6 as an example. The rioters involved in it were primarily white, male and supporters of President Donald Trump, based on available information. So it is safe to assume they are Republicans — or at least not Democrats.

The problem was the loss of life, destruction of property and the psychological threat this riot caused to duly elected members of Congress and the American public. The enemy is the violence and the other destruction — not the GOP.

Respondents to the survey think that making the enemy white conservative men, or the red party writ large, is a losing proposition if the goal is to move beyond divisiveness. Approximately three-quarters of Americans said it is “important to recognize that most Republicans are not as extreme as the people who attacked the Capitol.” 

► Proximity matters, but watch for a tendency toward prejudice.  More than half (57%) of Americans believe we can reduce divisiveness by shifting decision-making from the federal to the local level, although party affiliation shows a nuance in thought.

More Republicans (70%) and independents (59%) support this shift than Democrats (53%) and apolitical people (45%). But racial differences show the color line: Only 40% of Blacks support it compared with 60% of whites and 65% of Hispanics.

Black Americans’ faith in the federal government recognizes the role it played in addressing “states’ rights” and “local control” politics after the Civil War and through the civil rights movement.

The states' rights position become a “dog whistle” theme that kept African Americans tethered to Jim Crow citizenship, and often left them politically powerless in communities they lived in and supported with their taxes. So a shift of focus to local matters comes with a caveat we cannot overlook.

Bipartisanship found on justice reform

► Take a lesson about finding common ground on criminal justice reform.  Reforming prisons through sentencing guidelines, providing an education to incarcerated adults  or banning the box on employment applications are some of the few policy issues to gain sizable agreement among Democrats and Republicans, the American Civil Liberties Union and Koch Industries, urban and rural, whites and people of color.

Why? Our criminal justice system is a common-ground experience for “We the People” in ways many public institutions are not.

With about  10.7 million people going to jail every year, 2.3 million men and women behind bars  and at least 112 million people in 49 states, Washington, D.C., and Guam having a criminal record, our local, state and federal stakeholders have decided to put priorities above party and reform beyond race. We need to apply the same calculus to other areas of American life. 

To avoid a Hobbesian “war of all against all," we need to identify areas of compromise and to develop a shared civic vocabulary that is bigger than party or race.

This does not require us to deny the effects of racism nor, at the other end, to leave unchallenged the claim that race is the sole reason for lack of economic and social advancement in American society.

It just demands our attention to ideals and acts of faith that will entail an uncomfortable journey beyond politics as usual if we want to walk together past the color line of the 21st century.

Gerard Robinson, fellow of practice at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia, is a former Virginia secretary of education.

how can we solve local problems

Addressing Local Community Problems to Achieve Holistic Community Development

  • July 11, 2022

A country won’t develop without solving pressing issues that hinder its success. Problems must be addressed from the grassroots in order to progress. This is why driving progress by solving local community problems is important for every nation. Learn how the members and leaders could solve pressing issues in their local area.

What is Local Community?

A local community is defined as a group of people living in a common area in which intent, resources, needs, and risks are shared. Being part of these groups promotes kinship and provides more space to connect with others. Due to these shared factors, the members often have a common language, beliefs, and stories that they pass throughout ages. A strong local community makes its members more active and pushes each one to work toward a common goal, which is progress.

What are Community Issues?

Since these groups are composed of people with various backgrounds, problems are inevitable. Issues may start from families and further grow as a community matter. It is crucial to solve each problem to avoid a bigger uproar.

Although problems may differ per area, there are common issues that may guide both leaders and members. To find the leading problems in most areas, read on.

List of Local Community Problems

The Center for Community Health and Development listed a handful of community problems, which include the following issues, among others:

local community problems include lack of access to clean water

  • Access to Clean Drinking Water
  • Child Abuse and Neglect
  • Domestic Violence
  • Lack of Funding for Schools
  • Ethnic Conflict
  • Lack of Healthcare Programs

This list covers issues that most local groups experience globally. Having this list could guide leaders and members, like us, to find and solve issues in our local areas.

What are the Major Community Problems?

Based on the latest report of the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM), the Philippines has about 110.8 million people last 2021. In a country composed of many local groups, a myriad of problems arises.

The top problems in the country based on PUBLiCUS Asia Inc. second quarter poll for 2021 include: economy at 60%, COVID-19 vaccine at 51% and jobs at 42%. These pressing matters are then followed by education, corruption, poverty, and crime with around 24% to 13%.

It pertains to the careful management of wealth and resources in a country or region. It is a common problem worldwide, since it is influenced by diverse factors. These factors may include people and the environment.

People feel the effects of COVID-19. As of July 2022, around 3.74 million confirmed cases were reported since its onset. Aside from the usual health symptoms that this virus has given, it also paved the way to other concerns, such as mental health issues.

Many jobs have been lost due to the health crises. If not, some people have taken low-paying jobs just to gain income to support their needs. Based on a recent survey, “the number of unemployed persons in May 2022 was estimated at 2.93 million .” Loss of income could further lead to other local area concerns such as crime.

stress during pandemic and no job economic downturn due to covid depression

What are the Causes of Community Problems?

If we were to specify the causes of local community problems, we’d have a longer list. Looking into the bigger picture, there are common root causes of every local concern. Check our list below.

Lack of Government Support

Leaders must spearhead projects that would spur progress in each area. They must be able to see the root cause of major concerns and propose laws and actions that would address the said pain points, instead of mere stopgap solutions. People should be involved in this approach.

One of the most important factors in success is education. Teaching basic knowledge, such as reading and writing, would develop vital skills. These skills will be useful for each one and help them contribute to the community. People will be able to find jobs or start businesses.

There are many issues when it comes to the Philippines’ education system . Knowing where we can help is the first step.

Lack of Health Programs

Aside from a sound mind, a healthy body is also crucial to uplift the quality of people. Hence, health education is vital in building a better society. Healthier citizens work and interact with others better. This applies when there’s a pandemic.

How to Solve Local Problems

Solving local problems comes in two approaches, the political action and direct action .

  • Political action pertains to the process of pushing state and private firms to address a certain issue. For instance, the call for leaders to help lessen water pollution through laws and local support constitutes as political action. This also aims to spark creative tension among public and private groups to solve a certain issue.
  • Direct action, on the other hand, involves a more straightforward approach in solving a local problem. This may include adding cycling paths and green spaces in local areas to support green movements.

Childhope KalyEskwela program

Join Childhope Philippines Projects for Locals!

Childhope PH promotes the welfare, uphold, and protect children’s rights, mostly children in street areas. The KalyEskwela translates to “school on the streets.” This program conducts classes to teach children from low-income families how to read, write, and count. Aside from basic knowledge, this program also provides learning aid to children who go back to the formal school system. It also offers technical Skills Training for older students.

Another project to address local community problems is the Mobile Health Clinic or KliniKalye . This initiative provides medical care and treatments to keep the children healthy and in full physical capacity to learn. Aside from medical aid, we also provide psychosocial aid and counseling . This will help the kids and their parents deal with stress while learning. Through these programs, we seek to offer effectual support in curbing local community problems and building a better future for each child.

Join us today and let’s help our nation progress from the grassroots. Contact us to know more about our programs or follow our Facebook page for the latest news and projects!

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Solving Problems, Locally and Globally

Leading impact sourcing services provider RuralShores seizes the opportunity to match global enterprises that need high-quality, low-cost services with rural communities in India that benefit from local employment.

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How to Resolve Most Any Conflict: The Problem

What are the roots of conflict in other words, why do we fight so much.

Posted November 6, 2023 | Reviewed by Michelle Quirk

  • How Can I Manage My Anger?
  • Find a therapist to heal from anger
  • Communications between people are subject to bias, perceptual filtering, and misunderstanding.
  • Misunderstandings can cascade, if not clarified, leading to misinterpretation and conflict.
  • Good communication and problem-solving are skills that can be learned and practiced.


This post is part 1 of a series.

Most of us believe we are very good at communicating with other people. Most of us assume that once we have made a statement, it has been understood as it was intended. But, good communication does not occur naturally. Communication is a skill that requires development and practice.

Reflect, if you will, on the myriad conversations you have today…with friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers. What is the likelihood that the people involved in those conversations walked away with the same understanding that you had, of what was intended?

The majority, upward of 75 percent, of all spoken communication is misunderstood, ignored, or forgotten (Guffey & Loewy, 2016; Tankovic, Kapeš, & Benazić, 2023). Our tendency to convert conveyances to fit our own point of view is so drastic that a more realistic assumption would be to presume that whatever has been said, or heard, has not been understood.

Cognitive Bias

As humans, we have a strong tendency toward bias . Cognitive biases are a result of natural filtering processes that help us simplify information in order to process it. We use our personal experiences and preferences as filters to understand and interpret the world around us. Biases are processing errors that occur when we unconsciously distort what other people say to fit our own point of view. While this reliance on assumptions is largely automatic and outside of our focus, it strongly influences how each communication is interpreted and recalled.

The disconnect happens because we assume we have correctly understood what another has said and/or believe that the other has understood what we have intended. But, we tend to hear what we want to hear, to fit it in with our established beliefs. Further, we tend to assume that people hold points of view that are stable and predictable. This is not true. Each person’s identity is fluid, ever-changing, and dynamic; so, people’s beliefs, values, perceptions, and attitudes remain in flux. This becomes even more complicated when we consider human diversity. We all use different perceptual filters based on factors like culture, context, upbringing, and genetics . Having disparate filters means that people rarely attribute the same meaning to words.

Perhaps surprisingly, our poor understanding of one another holds true regardless of how well we know the other. The accuracy rates for communication remain the same for spouses as for strangers (Van Der Wege et al., 2021), demonstrating the illusion of transparency. Familiarity does not improve comprehension. Quite the opposite. The more we have in common with another, the larger the tendency to make biased assumptions about the communication and the more quickly we presume an understanding between one another.

Nonverbal dimensions must also be accounted for. Nonverbal elements account for almost 70 percent of total communication, easily changing the meaning of a verbal message (Barnum & Wolniansky, 1989). This is especially notable in technology-mediated platforms, like emails and social media , where there is a reduction of nonverbal cues, frequently leading to miscommunication, disinformation, mistrust , and confusion.

Adding Conflict

Putting this all together, we can see that it is quite easy for communication to become miscommunication. Indeed, communication is challenging, even in the absence of conflict. So, what happens when conflict is added into the mix?

When a communication is interpreted as a conflict, we tend to perceive it as a threat. Any perceived threat floods our bodies with a cascade of stress chemicals, helping us prepare for fight-or-flight. We have now been "triggered." This reaction interferes with memory and lowers our intelligence for responding in any way other than defensively. Complex decision-making evaporates, our attention narrows, and we become fixated on “I’m right—you’re wrong” in order to respond to a perceived attack and feel safer. We fall back on simplifying and categorizing people, often relying on an “us” and “them” mentality. As with physical threats of danger, our response to potential social threats tends to be defensive, which often prompts anger, aggression , and conflict.

Conflict is further aggravated because competition is woven into our drive system. All organisms naturally compete for limited resources for things such as food, shelter, and mating partners. While competition has evolutionary advantages, it can easily create a perceptual bias that precipitates a negative spiral leading to conflict that escalates due to the reciprocal aggressive and competitive behavior of the parties involved (Kennedy & Pronin, 2012).

Finally, violent conflicts are often driven by narratives of injustice, harm, and past trauma (Gehrig, Buchanan, Holt, & Ramsbotham, 2023) along with historical legacies and geographical and economic politics . The narratives we ascribe to, including beliefs about identity, belonging, community, and relationships, unconsciously shape our understanding of and responses to others. Conflicts are not inherently bad—they potentially help us address grievances and can lead to stronger bonds between us; however, conflict can also feed unresolved wounds, weaken trust, and promote violence as a viable option for advancing personal interests. Simplified narratives especially can become exaggerated and self-reinforcing.

how can we solve local problems

It is also true that our primary directive as humans is to survive. We have an innate capacity to mediate conflict. We want to bond with others. We desire harmony, fulfillment, and meaning. We are hardwired for empathy, cooperation , and friendship . These drives inspire us to nurture, set goals , and continuously strive for growth and affiliation.

Learning how to communicate with each other and resolve our problems effectively requires hard work. It is a fundamental truth that we will not understand what we are perceiving, and others will not understand us, without effort, practice, and the incorporation of key strategies.

Change begins when we are able to recognize and take responsibility for our biases, commit to putting aside existing assumptions, and really concentrate on grasping the other’s point of view. Fortunately, we have at our availability multiple, empirically validated strategies that really work. These details will be elaborated in the second part of this series.

Barnum, C., & Wolniansky, N. (1989). Taking cues from body language. Management Review , 78(6), 59–60.

Gehrig, M., Buchanan, C. Holt, S. & Ramsbotham, A. (2023). Building Trust in Peace Mediation. United States Institute of Peace. https://www.usip.org/sites/default/files/Building-Trust-in-Peace-Mediation-USIP-Evidence-Review-Paper.pdf

Guffey, M., & Loewy, D. (2016). Essentials of Business Communication . (10th ed.). Cengage Learning.

Kennedy, K. A., & Pronin, E. (2012). 'Bias Perception and the Spiral of Conflict', in Jon Hanson, and John Jost (eds), Ideology, Psychology, and Law, Series in Political Psychology , https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199737512.003.0017 ,

Tankovic, A. C., Kapeš, J. & Benazić, D. (2023) Measuring the importance of communication skills in tourism, Economic Research-Ekonomska Istraživanja, 36:1, 460–479, DOI: 10.1080/1331677X.2022.2077790 .

Van Der Wege, M., Jacobsen, J., Magats, N., Mansour, C, B, & Park, J. H. (2021). Familiarity breeds overconfidence: Group membership and shared experience in the closeness-communication bias, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 94. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2020.104097 .

Leigh W. Jerome Ph.D.

Leigh W. Jerome, Ph.D. , is a clinical psychologist, artist, and the founder and executive director of the non-profit art forum Relational Space.

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29 Easy Entrepreneurship Activities for All Classes As educators, we can cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset in our students. By incorporating these 20 easy entrepreneurship activities into our classes, we can inspire creativity, foster problem-solving skills, and prepare...

By Deanna Ritchie • Nov 6, 2023

This story originally appeared on Due

As educators, we can cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset in our students. By incorporating these 20 easy entrepreneurship activities into our classes, we can inspire creativity, foster problem-solving skills, and prepare students for success in any career they choose.

Whether it’s through hands-on exercises, podcasts, videos, or structured programs, these activities will engage students and ignite their entrepreneurial spirit.

See also: 20 Small Business Ideas to Start in High School

1. Inventing and Pitching Card Game ( our favorite )

Get ready to ignite your students’ imaginations and spark their entrepreneurial spirits with this entrepreneurial card game. Products is a hands-on and engaging way to teach your students about the basics of entrepreneurship.

Skypig, the brains behind this engaging game, cleverly integrates entrepreneurship into their gameplay. By using product and feature cards, players are encouraged to develop unique, marketable products while assuming the role of budding entrepreneurs. The game’s core values emphasize the importance of creativity and originality, allowing players to have a great time while testing their ingenuity.

This immersive experience is a fantastic resource for teaching various skills, such as public speaking and creative thinking, and fostering an entrepreneurial mindset. Skypig offers not only an original edition of the game but also a teacher’s edition, complete with a comprehensive 6-page lesson plan, making it an invaluable tool for educators seeking to instill these skills in their students in a relaxed and enjoyable manner.

2. The Envelope Challenge

envelope challenge

The Envelope Challenge is a simple yet effective activity that encourages students to think creatively and develop problem-solving skills. Provide each student or group with an envelope containing a small amount of fake money. They devise a plan to increase their investment within a specific time frame.

This activity not only enhances collaboration and critical thinking but also demonstrates to students how easy it can be to generate income.

3. Defining Problems Exercise

Entrepreneurs are problem solvers, and being able to define problems clearly is a crucial skill for success in entrepreneurship. Show students pictures that depict various issues and ask them to identify and define the problems they see. Please encourage them to think about the information they need to understand the situation better. By focusing on clearly defining the problem before attempting to solve it, students develop critical thinking abilities and learn to approach challenges strategically.

4. Ready, Set, Design!


The Ready, Set, Design! activity challenges students to think creatively and develop innovative solutions to real-world problems. Divide students into groups and assign each group a challenge, such as designing a new way to drink on the go or a new method of communication. Please provide them with a bag of everyday materials, such as rubber bands, pipe cleaners, and foil, and ask them to design a product that meets the challenge. This activity encourages students to think outside the box and fosters creativity and problem-solving skills.

See Also: Are You Raising Money-Smart Entrepreneurial Children?

5. The StartUp Podcast

The StartUp podcast is a valuable resource for sparking conversations about entrepreneurship in the classroom. It provides insights into the entrepreneurial journey and offers real-life examples of the challenges and successes that entrepreneurs face.

Assign students to listen to an episode of the podcast and facilitate a class discussion on the key takeaways and lessons learned. This activity allows students to gain a deeper understanding of entrepreneurship and encourages them to think critically about the concepts discussed in the podcast.

6. The Business Proposition

Articulating a clear and concise value proposition is essential for any entrepreneur. In this activity, introduce students to a value proposition and provide them with a brief faux business or product idea. Ask students to express the value proposition for the given idea concisely. This exercise challenges students to distill the essence of a business or product and develop effective communication skills.

7. Reverse Brainstorming

problem solving

Reverse brainstorming is an excellent activity for developing problem-solving and creative thinking skills. Start by presenting a problem to the students, such as studying in a noisy library. Instead of brainstorming solutions, ask the students to brainstorm ways to improve the situation.

For each idea they come up with, challenge them to find a solution to the worsened situation. This activity encourages students to think critically and consider alternative perspectives, essential skills for entrepreneurship.

8. Entrepreneurship Videos

Take advantage of the abundance of free, short online videos that discuss various aspects of entrepreneurship. Use these videos as a tool to introduce students to the topic of entrepreneurship or assign them as homework. Some recommended videos include “What is an Entrepreneur?” and “The Best Advice for Entrepreneurs.” These videos provide valuable insights and inspire students to think about entrepreneurship in new ways.

9. Entrepreneurial Mindset Cards

blank cards

Entrepreneurial mindset cards are a valuable resource for developing entrepreneurship skills in students. These cards provide definitions and prompts related to entrepreneurial thinking. Distribute the cards to students and have them take turns reading the mindset definitions and answering the associated questions. This activity helps students develop a growth mindset and encourages them to think critically about entrepreneurship.

10. Pitch Challenge Toolkit

The Pitch Challenge Toolkit is a comprehensive resource for teaching entrepreneurship skills. This free toolkit consists of five lessons that cover various aspects of entrepreneurship, including creativity, problem-solving, critical thinking, and presentation skills. The toolkit provides step-by-step instructions and activities for guiding students through the process of developing and delivering a pitch. Using this toolkit, you can help students develop essential skills for success in entrepreneurship.

11. Free Entrepreneurship Lessons

Take advantage of free entrepreneurship lessons from reputable organizations such as VentureWell. These lessons cover a wide range of entrepreneurship-related topics and provide hands-on activities that engage students and teach them about the entrepreneurial mindset. Incorporate these lessons into your curriculum to give students a comprehensive understanding of what it takes to be an entrepreneur.

12. Contemporary Entrepreneurship Program

If you are looking for a ready-to-use entrepreneurship program, consider the Contemporary Entrepreneurship Program. This program is designed to engage students in a two-to-three-week unit focused on entrepreneurship. It covers topics such as generating business ideas , conducting market research, considering legal and financial issues, and writing a business plan. By implementing this program, you can give students a comprehensive understanding of the entrepreneurial process.

13. “Choose Your Own Adventure” Business Building

One engaging activity that introduces students to entrepreneurship is the “choose your own adventure” style series. In this activity, students follow the journey of a character named Jay as he starts his own business. Students make decisions for Jay and experience the real-world challenges and opportunities of business building . The series includes interactive videos that teach entrepreneurship, financial concepts, and economic ideas. This activity not only enhances students’ understanding of business but also encourages critical thinking and decision-making skills.

14. Literature and Business Terminology Integration

Integrating literature with entrepreneurial concepts is another effective way to engage students in entrepreneurship education. For instance, students can read a book like “Sweet Potato Pie” and apply business terminology such as profit, loan, and division of labor to interpret the text. After reading, students can discuss the book and reflect on what it takes to own and run a successful business. This activity not only strengthens students’ reading comprehension skills but also introduces them to the vocabulary and concepts commonly used in industry.

Here is a list of great entrepreneurship blogs to check out .

15. Mock Job Interviews

job interview

Conducting mock job interviews is a valuable activity that helps students develop job-related skills while fostering an entrepreneurial mindset. In this activity, the teacher sets up mock interviews based on the student’s desired career paths. Students can practice interviewing skills with a partner in the classroom, but the activity becomes even more effective when an adult can perform the interview. This activity enhances students’ communication skills, professionalism, and confidence, which are crucial qualities for entrepreneurs.

16. Inviting Local Entrepreneurs to the Classroom

Instead of simply teaching about business leaders and entrepreneurs, why not invite local entrepreneurs to share their experiences directly with students? This activity provides students with the opportunity to interact with real entrepreneurs and ask them questions. By preparing questions for the business leaders, students develop critical thinking and interpersonal skills . Additionally, this activity exposes students to different entrepreneurial journeys and helps them understand the practical aspects of starting and running a business .

17. Self-SWOT Analysis

A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis is a common tool used in business to assess the internal and external factors that affect an organization. In this activity, students apply the SWOT model to analyze themselves and their future goals. By identifying their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, students gain valuable insights into their entrepreneurial skills and areas for growth. This activity encourages self-reflection and helps students align their goals with their strengths and opportunities.

18. Researching Star Entrepreneurs

star entrepreneurs

Researching a star entrepreneur of their choice is an engaging activity that allows students to explore the lives and contributions of successful entrepreneurs. Students are tasked with investigating an entrepreneur using online resources and presenting their findings to the class. During the presentation, students focus on what motivated the entrepreneurs to start their businesses and the impact they have had on society. This activity promotes research skills, public speaking, and critical thinking.

19. Business Plan Shark Tank

In this activity inspired by the popular TV show “Shark Tank,” students create their business plans and present them in a simulated entrepreneurial pitch environment. Students write a comprehensive business description, conduct market analysis, develop marketing and sales strategies, determine funding needs, and project financial outcomes. They then present their business ideas to the class, receiving feedback and constructive criticism. This activity enhances students’ business planning, communication, and presentation skills.

20. Town Data Review and Business Proposal

Engaging students in a town data review and business proposal activity allows them to think critically about the needs and opportunities in a local community. In this activity, students review data about a town, discuss the data as a group, and propose a new business idea that addresses a specific need in the town. By considering the existing services and products in the town, students can identify gaps and propose innovative business solutions. This activity encourages students to think creatively and develop problem-solving skills.

21. Reverse Brainstorming


Reverse brainstorming is a unique entrepreneurial activity that encourages innovative thinking . Instead of trying to solve a problem, students are challenged to think of ways to make a problem worse. For each new issue they add to the situation, students must then think about how to solve that problem. This activity prompts students to think outside the box, develop creative solutions, and embrace an entrepreneurial mindset.

22. Startup Podcast Listening

Listening to podcasts focused on entrepreneurial learning is an excellent activity that exposes students to real-life stories and insights from successful entrepreneurs.

Students can choose from podcasts covering different aspects of entrepreneurship and the challenges of starting a business.

After listening to an episode, students can discuss the key takeaways, lessons learned, and how they apply to their entrepreneurial aspirations. This activity enhances students’ listening skills, critical thinking, and entrepreneurial knowledge.

23. Exploring Different Ways to Make Money

Teaching students different ways to make money is an essential aspect of entrepreneurship education. Students learn the difference between providing a service and selling a physical product.

In small groups, students brainstorm creative ways to make money, considering their unique skills and interests. Through this activity, students develop an entrepreneurial mindset and learn to assess the viability of their ideas.

24. Understanding the Characteristics of an Entrepreneur

In this activity, students explore the characteristics and traits of successful entrepreneurs. The teacher reads questions about entrepreneurship aloud, and students move to different corners of the room based on their answers. At the end of the activity, students count their points to assess their knowledge about entrepreneurship.

This activity fosters critical thinking, self-awareness, and an understanding of the key qualities required for entrepreneurial success.

25. Examining the Benefits and Challenges of Entrepreneurship

Helping students think critically about the benefits and challenges of entrepreneurship is an essential aspect of entrepreneurship education. In this activity, students reflect on the advantages and drawbacks of working for themselves and owning their businesses.

Additionally, students complete an entrepreneur checklist to assess their entrepreneurial skills and identify areas for improvement. This activity promotes self-reflection, awareness of the entrepreneurial journey, and the development of problem-solving skills.

26. Creating a School Garden Business

Engaging students in a hands-on activity like creating a school garden business combines entrepreneurship with environmental education. Students collaborate to design and build a school garden that yields crops that can be sold for profit.

They develop a business plan, consider market demand, plant and maintain the garden, sell the products, and track profits and losses. This activity provides students practical experience in business planning, financial management, and sustainable practices.

27. Promoting Social Entrepreneurship

social entrepreneurship

Exploring the concept of social entrepreneurship is a valuable activity that encourages students to think about using business to create a positive social impact. The teacher presents a set of problems on the board, and students are invited to think about what these problems have in common. Together, the class creates a definition of social entrepreneurship and brainstorms solutions to address social issues. This activity nurtures empathy, creative problem-solving, and a sense of social responsibility among students.

28. The “If I Knew…” Exercise

To continuously improve the course and maintain student engagement, the “If I Knew…” exercise is a valuable tool. At the end of each term, students are asked to reflect on their expectations at the beginning of the class and what they gained from the course. They also share what they would have changed if they had known certain things beforehand. The teacher aggregates the feedback and presents it to the students in the last class, creating a feedback loop for course improvement. This exercise sets the stage for future classes and encourages a culture of continuous learning and feedback.

29. The Get Out of the Building Exercise

The Get Out of the Building exercise emphasizes the importance of customer interaction in entrepreneurship. Students are encouraged to leave the classroom and engage with potential customers to gather feedback and insights. This exercise allows students to validate their ideas, understand customer needs, and make adjustments based on real-world feedback. It helps students develop empathy, communication skills, and the ability to iterate their ideas based on customer feedback.

Frequently Asked Questions: Fostering an Entrepreneurial Mindset in Students

1. what is an entrepreneurial mindset, and why is it important for students.

An entrepreneurial mindset is a set of skills and attitudes that empower individuals to think creatively, take risks, and solve problems effectively. It’s essential for students as it equips them with versatile skills that can be applied to various careers and life situations.

2. Are these entrepreneurship activities suitable for all age groups?

Yes, these activities are adaptable and can be tailored to suit students of different age groups, from elementary school to college and beyond.

3. How do these activities promote creativity and problem-solving skills?

These activities encourage students to think outside the box, explore new ideas, and find innovative solutions to real-world challenges. They are designed to stimulate critical thinking and creativity.

4. Can I incorporate these activities into my existing curriculum?

Absolutely! Many of these activities can be seamlessly integrated into existing coursework to complement traditional learning.

5. Do I need any special materials or resources to implement these activities?

Most of the activities can be executed with readily available materials and resources. You won’t need anything particularly extravagant to get started.

6. How can I ensure that students stay engaged throughout these activities?

By making the activities interactive and relatable, students are more likely to stay engaged. Incorporating multimedia elements such as podcasts and videos can also enhance their interest.

7. What are some potential outcomes of these entrepreneurship activities for students?

Students who engage in these activities may develop better problem-solving skills, increased self-confidence, enhanced communication abilities, and a more profound sense of adaptability – all essential skills for success in any career.

8. Can these activities be used for remote or online learning?

Yes, many of these activities can be adapted for remote or online learning, making them versatile options for educators in various teaching environments.

The post 29 Easy Entrepreneurship Activities for All Classes appeared first on Due .

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