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  • Maya Lovo || Regional Ambassador || Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana

The MicroGrants Program: Towards Chapter Sustainability in Latin America

There are more than forty-one chapters in Latin America and the Caribbean. Students have worked on projects related to gender inclusion, disaster management, local strengthening, urban mobility, biodiversity, among others. Even though these projects have had great impacts in the respective countries, efforts to improve access to geographic data are still disconnected among themselves. This means that many activities are not shared within the network and collective knowledge is not always spread. 

To provide support towards the network's cohesion, a proposal during the first stages of the Regional Ambassadorship was made. As part of the first planning moments from the Community Building work done, a program for Micro grants was drafted. This proposal included general objectives to achieve chapter support, collaboration among members and equal geographic distribution in the region. To achieve these goals, collaboration among Regional Ambassadors in Latin America was organized to later define requirements and the process for the application call. In the end, ambassadors from Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and México participated and facilitated spaces for discussion and support. 

The Micro grants program

A limited economic support was offered to chapters from Latin America in good standing. The guidelines asked for a short to medium-term activity that could be part of a bigger project. To provide assistance from the beginning of the program, the RA’s hosted a session on Project Design and Funding. In this online meeting, members exposed their doubts about the process, as well as about the activities planned. 

During the application process, ambassadors personally invited chapters, provided guidance and feedback for students that required assistance. Once the application period closed,  Ambassadors met to decide which chapters would be granted the prize, based on fulfillment of the requirements and feasibility of the proposed activities. When the decisions were finalized, chapters were communicated about their approval and given comments on how to improve the scope of their ideas. 

in the first round, the results showed four selected projects from Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador and Colombia, targeted towards improving or updating existing information in OpenStreetMap or local databases. The topics ranged from urban transport, notions of safety, cultural heritage, and biodiversity. According to each ambassador’s experience and knowledge, chapters were assigned to provide support and recommendations on how to better develop the planned activities.  Currently, these chapters are in the final stages of planning, with some particularities that relate to the local political context. It is expected that by February-March great progress will be made and, if needed, monitoring will happen from the Ambassadors to support until the final stages.

If you are from a YouthMappers Chapter in Latin America or know someone who is and might be interested in participating, follow the official social media of the network to learn about the next periods of the micro grants, as well as about the results of the current chapters.

About the Author

Maya Lovo is a YouthMappers Regional Ambassador and has been a UAMaps (based in México City) member since 2021. As a member, she has supported workshop facilitation, field mapping, remote contributions, collaborations among chapters and organizations, among others. She holds a Bachelor in Socio Territorial Studies and is currently doing a Master in Climate Change and Diversity. Maya has interest in disaster management, the gender lens in geography, urban planning and participaton.

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