MercyCorps, An Organization for Change
Author: Thomas C. Weiss : Contact: Disabled World
Synopsis and Key Points:
Overview of MercyCorps, who's mission is to create secure, productive and just communities.
MercyCorps' vision for change framework involves key actors, operating principles and external conditions interacting in the service of their mission. The organization's mission is to create secure, productive and just communities. Their vision for change represents a process, informed by thirty-five years of work in the field, allowing sustainable change to happen. MercyCorps' vision for change framework provides answers to some essential questions, such as Why, How and Who.
Mercy Corps is an American aid agency engaged in transitional environments that have experienced some sort of shock: natural disaster, economic collapse, or conflict. People working for it move as quickly as possible from bringing in food and supplies to enabling people to rebuild their economy with community-driven and market-led programs.
Why?: At the center of MercyCorps' framework is their goal or core mission. MercyCorps exists to help create more secure, productive and just communities.
How?: Surrounding the goal are the principles by which the organization operates. They pursue their mission through the principles of Accountability, Participation and Peaceful Change, as adapted from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. MercyCorps believes these principles form the basis for healthy interactions between all stakeholders in the development process. Without them, change is not likely to lead to secure, productive and just communities.
Who Is Involved with MercyCorps
Beyond the operating principles are the people who uphold them. From MercyCorps' perspective, their involvement is crucial to the pursuit of the organization's mission. The people involved include Public Sector/government, Private Sector/business and Civil Society/voluntary civic organizations. Individuals, institutions and organizations within the organization must be strong, accountable and participatory.
Beyond this, these sectors need to have the ability to interact effectively with each other and their constituents. MercyCorps often seeks to build the capacity of one or more of these sectors, at the same time strengthening their capacity to work with one-another.
Even with the questions of why, how and who answered, MercyCorps' experience has shown that sustainable development is hard, if not impossible, if key external conditions are not in place. The organization's programs aim to strengthen one or more of these key conditions, while at the same time reaching out to form partnerships with agencies working to strengthen other external conditions.
MercyCorps uses their framework in a number of ways in their daily work. The framework helps them to design the most effective interventions in any particular situation while ensuring the organization understands the complexity of the relationships where they are working. MercyCorps uses the framework with communities, local organizations, new staff members and colleagues to explain their theory of change. The organization aims to use their framework to help them measure the success of their programs; not only in terms of how many people they have helped, but also by marking their progress toward a more enduring contribution, catalyzing self-empowerment in their local partners. MercyCorps believes:
- Communities are the best agents of their own change
- Success is built on the foundation of good governance
- Local markets are the best engines of sustainable recovery
MercyCorps' Strategy for Change
MercyCorps focuses on places in transition where conflict, disaster, political upheaval or economic collapse present opportunities to challenge the status quo and build communities that are more secure, productive and just. The organization provides emergency relief during times of crisis, then moves rapidly to assist communities with recovery and building resilience to future shocks. The organization promotes sustainable change by supporting initiatives that are community-led, market-driven and promote good governance.
The organization seeks innovation that creates major breakthroughs against poverty and lasting change in the places where they work. MercyCorps desires to alleviate poverty, suffering and oppression by helping people to build secure, productive and just communities. The organization has some different core values, which include the following:
- We believe in the intrinsic value and dignity of human life.
- We believe that it is our duty to be effective stewards of the financial resources entrusted to us.
- We are awed by human resilience, and believe in the ability of all people to thrive, not just exist.
- We value stewardship of the earth's health, pledging to accountably and efficiently preserve and manage its resources.
- We believe that all people have the right to live in peaceful communities and participate fully in the decisions that affect their lives.
MercyCorps believes secure, productive and just societies emerge when the public, civil and private society sectors are able to interact with accountability, mechanisms for peaceful change and inclusive participation. Their accountability to stakeholders is, as stated by MercyCorps:
- Treating all people with respect
- Acting ethically as an organization and as individuals
- MercyCorps is open and transparent about the work they do and how they do it
- The organization's stakeholders participate in the design, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of their work
- MercyCorps are effective stewards of the financial resources entrusted to them and the natural environment in which we all live
- The organization is committed to achieving demonstrable impact for their stakeholders, using their feedback to innovate, learn and improve
MercyCorps' stakeholders are people or organizations affected by their decisions and actions. Their primary stakeholders are the people and communities they serve. Other MercyCorps stakeholders include partners, donors, team members, governments and board members.
Internships with MercyCorps
Each year, some of the most talented people from around the world set out on internships with MercyCorps with especially demanding terms of reference; to change the world we live in. Internships are challenging opportunities for aspiring international relief and development practitioners. The internships are chances for people to apply their education and experience to hands-on projects that contribute to MercyCorps' efforts to help people turn the crises they face into the opportunities they deserve, in support of the organization's mission to promote productive, secure and just communities. The internships are driven by local needs; MercyCorps' programs provide communities in the world's toughest places with the tools and support they need to transform their own lives.
The internships with MercyCorps are open to undergraduate and graduate students, recent graduates or people who are exploring a career shift and looking to gain experience through the organization. MercyCorps has internship opportunities year round, with the greatest number of internships during the summer. As a wonderful organization helping people around the world, internships with this organization are entirely worthwhile.
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