I Am One is an organization that helps provide education, safe spaces, and expressive platforms to help empower the marginalized lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual (or allies) (LGBTQIA) community in Trinidad and Tobago. Since 2015, I Am One has worked tirelessly to support the LGBTQIA community via many outreach efforts and interventions. Despite the organization’s efforts, its capacity has fluctuated over the years. During 2018, it was apparent to the organization’s leaders that the sustainability of I Am One was at a crossroads and that they were in dire need of guidance.
“The USAID-funded [Local Capacity for Local Solutions] LC4LS project’s offer to conduct a structured organizational assessment was music to our ears, so Ms. Zeleca Julien, Director of I Am One, and I zealously seized the opportunity,” said Mr. Arnaldo James, Project Manager. “The experience exceeded our expectations because we were expertly guided through a capacity assessment and in-depth analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of I Am One. Although it was a tedious a process, the sting [from learning about the weaknesses] was buffered by the expert guidance and patience of our facilitator who exemplified preparedness, compassion, and professionalism and provided encouragement throughout the process,” Mr. James added.
Mr. James said that although the experience of developing an Institutional Strengthening Plan (ISP) for I Am One was enriching, it was also challenging in all the right ways. “The experience was extremely thought provoking because we drilled down into the capacity of I Am One, and then identified and navigated a strategic course to rectify our problem areas,” he said. “In just over a month, we have begun to reap the benefits of the exercise because we have started to address the fundraising issues that were flagged [during the analysis] as a major priority area. Certainly, we recognize that formulating a fundraising plan must be hinged to a broader organizational strategy, but the insight gained from the organizational assessment process was substantive enough to set us on an interim path,” Mr. James added.
Mr. James said that several fundraising initiatives are planned in the near future to strengthen the knowledge and social support for members living in approximately eight Caribbean territories. “We recognize that the end game of capacity building is improved performance; therefore, we are committed
to staying the course and using all of the insights and knowledge gained from the assessment while adhering to the plan to support the realization of our mission,” said Mr. James. “We know that these are early days yet, but the follow up support provided by RTI International has been inspirational and has kept us grounded and focused—indeed a valuable resource for sound boarding. LC4LS is helping us to get over heavy ground lightly.”