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RTI International announces expanded commitments to locally led development for more sustainable outcomes

Approach prioritizes local voices in defining development challenges while co-creating shared solutions through partnerships

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. - RTI International, a nonprofit research institute and leading global development organization, today announced new commitments to locally led international development, defined by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) as “the process in which local actors – encompassing individuals, communities, networks, organizations, private entities, and governments – set their own agendas, develop solutions, and bring the capacity, leadership, and resources to make those solutions a reality.”

“RTI is expanding our commitment to fostering locally led solutions to development challenges,” said Paul Weisenfeld, executive vice president for international development at RTI.  “We are continuing to learn and adapt as we build long-term relationships with our local partners around the world.”

RTI’s commitments to locally led development include:

  • Staffing: Increasing the percentage of long-term staff representative of the countries where we work and ensuring that, by 2025, 90% of new project leadership comes from the countries and regions where our international development projects are based.
  • Investments: Increasing the amount of project funding to local partners through sub-awards and grants; and investing a larger amount of RTI's research and development funding into research projects carried out jointly with local researchers.
  • Partnerships: Co-creating 100% of international development proposals and projects with local stakeholders; and investing in long-term, non-project-based relationships with local partners in countries where we are most active.
  • Learning: Holding listening and learning sessions on locally led development annually; increasing the percentage of RTI’s peer-reviewed publications with a local collaborating author.

“Locally led development isn’t just the right thing to do; it also yields more sustainable development outcomes,” said Weisenfeld, who also chairs the Advisory Committee for Voluntary Foreign Aid (ACVFA). "By prioritizing local voices in defining development challenges, co-creating smart, shared solutions with local organizations, and facilitating strong connections within and across local networks, we are better able to support a more prosperous, equitable and resilient world.”

Recent highlights of RTI’s locally led development efforts include:

  • RTI recently entered into a strategic partnership with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center (CCCCC). As part of this partnership, RTI will make long-term investments in CCCCC and support them in building resilience against the effects of climate change as well as addressing food security, water and energy issues that Small Island Developing States face.
  • In May, RTI hosted a two-day locally led development learning summit in Kenya with 80 local stakeholders from five East African countries.
  • In April, RTI invested in a new Social Innovation Lab at the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, a strategic partner for 15 years.
  • Over the last 10 years, RTI has made 5,700 grants totaling more than $200 million to thousands of local organizations. Currently, RTI provides $34 million in grants to more than 200 local partners spanning 17 countries.

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