The Belize DIA Lab, an initiative under the Trust for the Americas in collaboration with the Organization of the American States and funded by a CARSI Grant, with the aim to fostering innovation, improving digital skills, and creating livelihood solutions for the youth, has been making significant strides in Belize since its launch in September 2021.
With a strong emphasis on multi-stakeholder collaboration and capacity-building, the DIA Lab empowers young individuals with the necessary tools and knowledge to participate in the economy of the future. ARCH Consulting Group played a vital role in the successful implementation of the DIA Lab Belize project through its managing partner, who took on the lead as a project coordinator for the two-year period of the project.
The DIA Program (Democratizing Innovation in the Americas) is a regional initiative that promotes the strengthening of democracy in the region and the empowerment of new generations through access to technology training, specialized curricula, collaboration spaces, mentoring, and financial support for the development of social and economic ventures. Already present in nine countries in the Caribbean and Latin America, a DIA Lab was implemented in Belize in early 2021. With this project, The Trust for The Americas sought to develop the talent of young people and improve innovation and good governance processes in the country. It placed special importance on linking new skills to the labor market and creating a new collaborative mentality between public officials, civil society leaders, and youth.
The targeted population was young men and women aged 16 to 30 years of age, particularly those living in and working within underserved and remote communities, as well as with vulnerable communities dealing with at-risk and complex scenarios such as complicated social environments, youth crime, high school drop out rates, poor academic performance, and teenage single parenthood, among others. At the end of the first phase, 128 youths participated in dedicated training and dialogues, increasing their abilities and skills to develop solutions to tackle challenges in their communities. 189 representatives from civil society groups, youth, academia, the private sector, and local governments were sensitized in the creation of a youth agents-of-change network with a focus on generating livelihood opportunities and good governance in Belize.
A project of this magnitude required strong partnership building, in-depth assessments, a detailed strategy definition, and continuous monitoring to ensure that each phase was being executed as effectively as possible. The project coordinator started by identifying the specific needs and challenges faced by Belizean youth in the digital, education, and work landscapes through various meetings with governmental representatives in the economic and education sectors, academic stakeholders, and the business community. Specific meetings and working sessions were also conducted with public departments' specialists and community-based organizations’ teams throughout the country to ensure that the underrepresented audiences would be fully and correctly addressed.
The ground work, research, and negotiations performed at the beginning of the project formed the foundation for implementing the first DIA Lab in the country, equipping it with a top tier network of institutional and governmental partners, and designing effective training curricula and capacity-building initiatives. ARCH Consulting Group's project development expertise was mobilized, with its project coordinator developing and/or implementing various activities and initiatives nationwide and regionwide such as:
Resume Building Workshop: A series of two workshops were held in partnership with the Leadership Intervention Unit from the Department of Youth Services to train dropped out youths living in at-risk environment to build a complete and attractive resume from all their experience through training and brainstorming sessions, and assist them with insertion into the labour market.
Anti-corruption and Transparency workshop: A workshop was developed and implemented for local government and CBOs’ leaders under the theme of “Good Governance Principles & Practices and Anti-Corruption for Civil Society” allowing the 29 participants from village/town councils, department of labour, family life associations, and Mayan’s women councils, to become attuned to information and tools that can facilitate anti-corruption efforts in their communities.
Digital and Data Training at the Central Prison: A 12-week training in Digital and Data Fundamentals was specifically developed for the young inmates at the Central Prison of Belize, including a training of inmate trainers to further their skills, which was implemented over a 12-weeks period, with the strong partnership of the Department of Youth Services’ Director of Behavioural Modification and Conflict Management Service.
Regional hackathon, National pitch tank: Competitions and preparative bootcamps were organized and implemented nationwide and in the Caribbean region, where participants learned to develop and defend their projects in front of panels of business and institutional judges, with a total of USD 17,000 of seed funding awarded to winners for implementing their projects.
In depth training in digital and entrepreneurship: A comprehensive curriculum of 40-hours of common track with 20-hours of elective specialization was developed for the DIA Lab Belize to respond to the needs of the targeted population, in digital and data literacy, financial literacy, and life skills. The DIA Lab was equipped with computers, notebooks, a 3D printer, photographic and videographic material, and software freely accessible to lab’s participants.
Digital and Data Training Workshop for Governmental Officers: A two-day training for 45 governmental officials cross-ministries was organized under the theme of “Data 101 From Data to Decisions” between the E-Governance Unit, the Ministry of Public Utilities, and OS City aiming to leverage technology in the public sector to drive impact and innovation and reinforce the capacity of public officers to work with data and develop data-driven products.
Here is a recapitulative of the work that was done during the project’s duration:
Soliciting their expertise in data the and monitoring fields, ARCH's Managing Partner (MP) conducted extensive data collection and analysis throughout the project's duration. This involved monitoring participant progress, evaluating training effectiveness, and assessing the impact of the DIA Lab Belize initiatives. The insights gleaned from data analysis allowed for continuous improvement and optimization of the project's activities. To ensure the project's success, ARCH implemented a robust monitoring and evaluation framework where regular assessments and feedback loops were established to measure the project's overall impact on participants and the broader community. This data-driven approach enabled informed decision-making and the implementation of targeted interventions.
Drawing upon their local expertise, ARCH's MP played a crucial role in building and coordinating those partnerships and collaborations, fieldwork visits, and engaging with stakeholders. The success of the DIA Lab in Belize was heavily reliant on the collaborative efforts of those numerous organizations and stakeholders including the University of West Indies (UWI) Open Campus Belize, the Department of Youth Services, the Ministry of Youth, Sports & E-Governance, the E-Governance and Digitalization Unit, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology, the OAS Offices in Belize City and in the Adjacency Zone, the Kolbe Foundation Central Prison, Humana People to People. Additionally, the project has forged rapports with the Association of Tertiary Level Institutions in Belize (ATLIB), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Ministry of Economic Development, the Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE), the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), and several other esteemed organizations in Belize.
Equipped with reporting extensive experience, ARCH's MP was also in charge of producing comprehensive quarterly reports documenting the progress and achievements of the DIA Lab Belize project to inform the funding entity, as well the Trust’s board and executive team. These reports provided in-depths and valuable insights on activities performed, project's outcomes, challenges met, lessons learned, good practices, and recommendations for future initiatives. It contained a communications report with analytics data and information. Reporting also included an important data-driven monitoring and evaluation work, drawing upon a base-line analysis updated with every project’s progress using real-time information tools.
Recognizing the importance of effective communication, ARCH's project coordinator developed a comprehensive strategy to promote the DIA Lab Belize project. They leveraged various channels, including media appearances, press releases, and publications, to raise awareness about the project's goals, achievements, and opportunities. Their communications efforts ensured maximum visibility and engagement among the target audience. This also ensured that interest in the DIA Lab did not waver, even after the project concluded its first phase. Opening and Closing Events were also organized and fully-managed by ARCH's MP, with the participation of esteemed representatives from governmental and top tiers partners entities, which was covered by national media.
The senior program manager of the project had this to say about their experience working with ARCH's Managing Partner:
"I worked with the Managing Partner of ARCH in multiple initiatives that involved the development of multi-stakeholders partnerships. I can attest to her commitment, proactivity and detailed deliverables. Her performance is always going beyond her tasks and ensuring to meet deadlines and commitments. She is an outstanding professional and very good at establishing partnerships and networks."
ARCH Consulting Group's Managing Partner involvement in the DIA Lab Belize project has been instrumental in empowering Belizean youth and fostering digital innovation in the country. Through their expertise in management, data analysis, and coordination, ARCH Consulting Group has made a lasting impact on the success of the initiative. The DIA Lab Belize stands as a testament to the power of collaboration and strategic partnerships in driving positive change and equipping Belizean youth with the digital skills necessary for a prosperous future.
Timeline: 2021 – 2023
University of West Indies (UWI) Open Campus Belize
Humana People to People Belize
OAS Office in Belize
OAS Office Adjacency Zone in Benque
Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)
Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI)
Kolbe Foundation Belize Central Prison
Caribbean School of Data of Jamaica
Institute of Law and Economics of Jamaica
Department of Youth Services
Ministry of Education
E-Governance and Digitalization Unit
Office of the Prime Minister - Investment Policy and Compliance Unit
Ministry of Natural Resources, Petroleum and Mining
Attorney General’s Ministry/Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)
Ministry of Finance
Attorney General’s Ministry
Accountant General Department
Ministry of Health and Wellness Project and Planning Unit
Ministry of Home Affairs, Belize Police Department
Office of the Auditor General
Department of Youth Services, Planning Unit
Department of Transport
Ministry of National Defense and Border Security
Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Housing
Ministry of Public Utilities & Logistics
Ministry of Blue Economy
Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations
Ministry of Rural Transformation, Labour Department
Ministry of Public Service
Belize Tax Service
More on this project:
Presentation of the DIA Lab Project in Belize
A U.S.-Funded program launched to empower youth through innovation
What is a DIA Lab
The Launch of the Belize DIA Lab in Media
Official launch of the Belize DIA Lab
An Innovation Lab for Youths in the Media
DIA Lab Closing Event
A new innovation Lab in Belize
The pitch tank competition
About ARCH Consulting Group Ltd.:
ARCH Consulting Group is an international development & cooperation consulting firm providing services such as project management, program development, fieldwork and local coordination, research, strategy consultation, policy analysis and support, and monitoring and evaluation. We serve Latin America and the Caribbean and deliver services in English, Spanish, and French through our presence in Belize, Mexico, and the USA.