10to19 Dasra Adolescents Collaborative: Anchoring a collaborative for adolescent empowerment
- Year Established: 2017
- Key Funders: Tata Trusts, USAID, Kiawah Trust, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, corporate funders, family foundations, individual philanthropists, etc.
- Key Partners: Aangan Trust, Child In Need Institute, Centre For Catalyzing Change (C3), Quest Alliance
- Systems Actors Engaged: Adolescents, community of practice anchored by non-profit organisations, state and central government, experts, philanthropists/donors, adolescents’ communities, media, Dasra Giving Circle, corporate funders
The Problem: Adolescents as a vulnerable population
India is home to more adolescents than any other country. Yet, this group—particularly adolescent girls—still faces immense social and economic challenges that complicate their transition from childhood to adulthood. Adolescents are denied empowerment and development across their lifespan in the form of poor nutrition and health, lack of education, dearth of equal employment opportunities, early marriage and pregnancy, as well as sexual violence. A common pool of interlinked norms and beliefs underlie these varied manifestations of vulnerability among adolescents, which siloed and fragmented solutions are unlikely to address in a sustainable manner.
The Solution: Building a multi-stakeholder collaborative for adolescent empowerment
Dasra launched the Dasra Girl Alliance in 2013 to direct awareness, funding and resources to the field of adolescents in India. Over four years, this initiative evolved into a multi-stakeholder initiative, the 10to19: Dasra Adolescents Collaborative (referred to as “the Collaborative”). Launched in partnership with The Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, the Collaborative is an outcomes-led, national platform that aligns the expertise and perspectives of multiple stakeholders, across national, state and local levels, to ensure sustainable empowerment for 5 million adolescents in India, through transformative efforts. The key outcomes for 10to19 DAC link to broader Sustainable Development Goals relating to health and well-being, equitable education and gender equality.
10to19 DAC pursues adolescent empowerment by aligning efforts towards four key outcomes:
- Delayed age of marriage
- Delayed age of pregnancy
- Improved secondary education
- Increased agency
A systems approach is critical for the Collaborative to sustainably empower 5 million vulnerable adolescents across India. The Collaborative operates at multiple levels, with critical stakeholder groups, to influence change through a host of distinct yet interlinked interventions.
10to19 DAC as a systems solution
Unlike technical problems that can be traced to definitive causes and sources, the challenges faced by adolescents are complex, spanning multiple sectors, supported by deep-rooted norms, reinforced by contemporary challenges and maintained by gatekeepers in the family and community. Solving for these problems, the Collaborative focuses on deep engagement in the state of Jharkhand to address systemic and normative inequalities impacting adolescents, through a variety of interventions. At the national level, the Collaborative advocates for a stronger focus on adolescents in the larger development discourse. The Collaborative’s features as a systems solution are:
Outcome-based action and pooled funding
- The Collaborative is focused on outcomes and measurable results. This enables alignment of a wide range of on-ground actors to the selected outcomes for adolescents, while allowing flexibility of action.
- Being outcomes-led has also enabled pooling of funds from varied funder groups, ranging from multilateral organisations to domestic individual philanthropists. This has allowed the Collaborative to use a range of risk appetite and fund sizes, to enable innovation and holistic action towards ambitious outcomes for adolescents.
- $48M pooled funding raised from 30 funders directed to the sector since 2017
Knowledge-creation for the ecosystem and evidence-based action
- The Collaborative facilitates creation and dissemination of knowledge products co-created with the community of practice (CoP) to enable codification of learning and amplification of best practices modelled by partners. For instance, the report, “Action Reaction: Understanding and Overcoming Backlash Against Girls’ Exercise of Agency in India,” March 2019, highlights the experiences of 70+ CoP partners, with unintended consequences of adolescent girl programming and effective approaches they have used to prevent and address the consequences.
- On the other hand, the Collaborative gathered evidence on the status of adolescents in Jharkhand to enable on-ground partners with insights for effective programme design. The Baseline Study on key adolescent development and empowerment indicators was conducted across 325 villages and urban wards, covering 16,000 adolescents. Insights from this study have been used by on-ground partners to ensure effective programme design. The same also proves useful as a yardstick to measure the collective contributions of these programmes to adolescents in Jharkhand over a period of time.
- An additional suite of knowledge products was created such as the playbook “Collaborative Force: 10 to 19” and “Three Square Meals: A Just Diet for India’s Adolescent Girls” to increase the visibility of the sector.
- 70+ CoP partners’ experiences of backlash collated for ecosystem reference
- 16,000 Adolescents surveyed for baseline study on key adolescent indicators in Jharkhand
Cross-learning and collaborative action
- The Collaborative promotes cross-learning between partners and enables strengthening of their individual programmes for adolescents. For example, Quest Alliance is leveraging CINI’s expertise on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights to strengthen their out-of-school programmes. Similarly, C3 is seeking knowledge support from Quest Alliance’s established methodology for assessment of at-risk students.
- To scale efforts nationally for Ab Meri Baari, an adolescent-led media and advocacy campaign, 16-plus partner organisations worked collaboratively.
- Through the formal mechanism of quarterly meetings for implementing partners, the Collaborative promotes regular interface and communication between all partners for alignment in programme delivery, strengthening collaborative action among partners.
- The Collaborative also strengthens on-ground action through collective and one-on-one capacity building to a cohort of high-impact nonprofits operating in Jharkhand through leadership development, advisory on strategy, growth and scaling, and systems support.
- 16+ Partner organisations primarily in the three states of Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh executed Ab Meri Baari
- Using the long-standing relationships of on-ground partners with the government, and their insights on effective engagement, the Collaborative has begun working with the government to ensure sustainable impact at scale.
- It also offers the multi-disciplinary expertise of the Collaborative to help the government improve service delivery for adolescent schemes it is keen to improve. For instance, the Collaborative has begun working with the Government of Jharkhand, applying a design thinking approach to identify critical breakpoints in the Weekly Iron & Folic Supplementation (WIFS) scheme and design solutions to address them so the government can improve service delivery for adolescents. Through such support, the Collaborative is able to use its collective expertise to strengthen a scheme that targets all adolescents. The WIFS scheme targets adolescents in government schools as well as out-of- school adolescent girls. (The WIFS scheme is part of a flagship Central government programme, Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram, targeting holistic development of adolescents, in and out-of-school, with a special focus on marginalised groups, run by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.)
- Government engagement with key central and state ministries and departments like Health and Family Welfare and Women and Child Development
Inclusive and sustainable impact
- Through both the campaign and individual partner programmes, the Collaborative builds the agency of targeted adolescents by promoting their participation in solutions designed for their own empowerment. This ensures the sustainability of the change these programmes trigger and has the potential for creating intergenerational results. This is seen in on-ground programmes run by the implementing partners.
- Since the category of vulnerable adolescents is not homogenous, the Collaborative is designed to promote inclusion through all its programmes. Through distinct programmes, the Collaborative plans for adaptive implementation of interventions for in and out of school adolescents, belonging to different vulnerable situations and socioeconomic groups to ensure the same outcomes for all. After being associated with the Collaborative, implementing partners made adolescents their focus instead of “youth,” which is a more homogenous category.
- 160K Adolescents directly reached through DAC Programmes out of a target of 180K
- The collaborative works at different levels with stakeholders and systems actors such as governments, community gatekeepers, families, schools and non-profit organisations to shift attitudes, mindsets and behaviours on issues surrounding adolescent development and empowerment.
- To enact normative change at scale, the Collaborative (as part of its adolescent-led national media and advocacy campaign, Ab Meri Baari) worked with on-ground implementation partners and trained Girl Champions on a social mapping tool intended to increase their agency and seek greater government accountability on adolescent programmes. The campaign was executed in three phases to create national momentum around adolescent issues. First, digitally through a film, second, adolescents were empowered to demand accountability on their rights and third, the campaign was amplified through a bus tour. 300+ Girl Champions from Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh participated in the Bus Tour and shared their insights based on the social mapping through a ‘Charter of Demands’ directly with 13 government officials, community members and other relevant stakeholders.
- The Collaborative runs a national level CoP with 180-plus partners who collectively advocate for stronger adolescent focus in government programmes. The CoP also advocates and tracks the progress of indicators linked to adolescent health and well-being.
- The Collaborative promotes cross-learning and collective policy advocacy on thematic areas concerning adolescents in Jharkhand through a member base of 60-plus voluntary and actively engaged partners in the state-level Community of Practice.
- 25M People reached through a national narrative change campaign Ab Meri Baari
- 300+ Girl Champions equipped as part of Ab Meri Baari, to build channels of accountability with decision makers across India
- 180+ Organisations part of the National Community of Practice