Tips for Developing an Action Project

How do you develop an Action Project?

  • Identify the issue: How does your own community address issues of diversity and minority rights? Which issues are similar to those you discovered during the fellowship program in the summer? Which are different? How is the context different? Why do you care about this issue? 
  • Search for solutions: Brainstorm. Create a shortlist of possible solutions to the problem. Talk and collaborate with other Humanity in Action Fellows. Reach out to Senior Fellows, and Humanity in Action board and staff members for advice.
  • Keep it manageable: Consider your abilities, time and resources. What solutions are both possible and probable? Be ambitious, but keep your project manageable, too. By far, the most common reasons that Action Projects fail is that the scope of the project is too broad. Narrowing the focus makes implementation and evaluation much more feasible. 

What tips and suggestions are helpful for developing an Action Project?

Know the problem, audience, and method—The project should be focused on addressing a specific challenge, with a specific method, for a specific audience. 
 
For example, if the problem is about the challenge of immigrant children being excluded from educational opportunities, a hypothetical method could be a campaign to raise awareness among an audience of immigrant parents in the neighborhood about after-school programs that would be helpful for their children. Or it could be about educating the local city council or school board about a successful after-school program a fellow might have visited during the Humanity in Action program.
 
Creativity—There are any number of ways that one can address social, environmental or civic challenges through an Action Project. Fellows should also consider the Action Projects as opportunities to experiment and to showcase their talents. 
 
A clear goal—The experience of past Fellows shows that the project will be both easier and more effective if one can very clearly articulate the goal to be achieved (e.g., helping enroll 15 immigrant children in a language-training course) and the specific steps one would need to take to meet this goal (e.g., working with a local NGO to publicize the language-training course among parents). Ideally, the goal should be measurable and verifiable.
 
Don’t reinvent the wheel—In many cases, the most successful Action Projects are not entirely original ideas at all. They are just examples of a Humanity in Action Fellow coming up with a great way to implement someone else’s good idea in their community.
 
Don’t fear failure—Not all Action Projects need to “succeed” to be regarded as a success.  The experience of defining a project, articulating a goal and implementing a plan is in itself a valuable experience—even if the project does not meet the original goals that outlined by the project creators.  In fact, many “failed” Action Projects inspire Fellows to develop better ideas and provide a learning experience that has been useful for Fellows in their careers and volunteer efforts.