About us

About the Center

The Civil Society Support Center (CSSC/ “The Center”) is an initiative launched by Impact (formerly “Citizens for Syria”) to develop the capacity of Syrian civil society groups and individuals, in order to be able to operate efficiently and effectively within the post-conflict civil society space.

 

Established in June 2017, the Center is currently operating through its headquarters in Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor provinces. Its offices are managed by a group of local activists and respected community figures who believe in the vital role civil society organizations can play in supporting and rebuilding their communities after the harsh war conditions they suffered.

 

CSSC follows the “incubation” approach that allows its partner organizations to interact and exchange experiences and resources within its common workspaces. The Center provides a full range of services including training and coaching programs, consultancy and technical support, networking and advocacy programs, as well as establishing positive relationships with local administrations and international stakeholders. Additionally, the Center offers limited grants to support small community projects in those areas most affected by the war.

 

To date, CSSC’s various programs have benefited more than 7350 members of local organizations; these organizations have been selected according to well-thought-out criteria based on the most basic needs of the community— without regard to  ethnic or sectarian backgrounds.

The Establishment of The Center

 

After carefully examining the conditions of several local civil society organizations and initiatives in Syria, Impact oversaw the creation of a specialized local center aimed at “incubating” neighboring organizations in areas that have suffered the worst consequences of the war. Prior to its official launch, the Center conducted a study of the needs of civil society organizations and met with dozens of civil society workers in Raqqa to identify the best approach to meet these needs.

Thus, by early March 2018, the first CSSC center in Raqqa was born.

The Center began its work by launching the “Sharek” initiative in the area of “Saluk” in Raqqa Province – a participatory platform aimed at developing project management skills among community members and giving them the space they need to launch their initiatives, in addition to providing them with the knowledge and consultation they need with the help of local experts with management, operational and organizational expertise.

read more about the Shark Initiative.

With its vision becoming clearer, CSSC established another center in Raqqa in April 2018, then another branch in Al-Tabqa. By September 2019, CSSC had successfully launched its first center in Deir ez-Zor province, whose activities reached the eastern countryside of Deir ez-Zor (newly liberated from ISIS at the time).

What is incubation?

 

The principle of incubation is based on building a common working base that allows the local partners to interact and exchange experiences and resources with each other. The incubation cycle usually begins with a detailed close-up examination of the exact needs and capabilities of target organizations; so that any gaps in their working style can be quickly identified and fixed. The end goal here is to develop a well-tailored work plan to allow each organization to better meet the actual needs of their own communities:

  • Incubation is a nine-month learning journey that combines theoretical knowledge with practical real-life applications.
  • Allows the development of programs specifically/custom-designed for each organization and guiding the execution of these programs on the ground.
  • The relatively long duration of the program helps to build strong partnerships between the Center and its partners, as well as between the participating organizations themselves.
  • Programs vary according to the needs, working conditions and available resources of each organization.

Unlike other support programs, incubation is very much a long-term partnership that can often achieve success on several fronts. For example:

  • Members of those organizations will have the skills they need, and the clear road map that allows them to work, participate and add real value to their communities.
  • Participants will find the doors always open for them to seek advice.
  • The Centre, in turn, will receive valuable, evidence-based information on the needs of civil society organizations. And also the obstacles they face.
  • The journey does not end here, as donors will provide small grants to participants to assist them in their new endeavors.

Mission

 

To truly become a trusted and reliable partner, one that works for the best of society to embrace the initiatives needed by the local community, and to support individuals and civil actors so that the people themselves can play their part in bringing about positive changes to their society  based on human rights. The Center’s mission is to:

  • Rehabilitation of civil society to play its role in bringing stability and peace to the community, bridging the painful shortages in the provision of basic services, and then gradually moving towards community development, advocacy and governance
  • Establishing a platform for cooperation and exchange of experiences between local civil society actors
  • Removing the obstacles thatlimit the organizations’ ability to better work together
  • Seek to establish a framework of trust and mutual respect between organizations

Build an ever-wider network of civil society actors at the local level, and then connecting them to Syrian and international actors

Vision

 

At CSSC, we believe in our ability to create a shared vision among civil society organizations and individuals, and then to empower them to take up leadership roles in all aspects of their own society by giving them the support and knowledge they most need to succeed.

The society we hope to create is characterized by:

  • Principles: Understands in depth the principles of human rights, the rights of children, women and all segments of society, especially those marginalized, and plays an active part in promoting those principles through real-life activities
  • Planning: Addresses new and existing issues with a well-thought-out strategy
  • Knowledge: Follows an informed approach and continuously develops its theoretical knowledge and competencies
  • Context: Works from within the local community to better appreciate the specific needs and culture of the community
  • Advocacy: Can build strong links with international stakeholders and uses these vital relationships to better support and encourage the most important causes of society
  • Networking: Its strategy includes building partnerships and constructive communication with various actors
  • Impact: can positively influence the local administration
  • Financing: Owns and develops the tools and resources it needs to obtain the support needed to finance its projects
  • Volunteering: Works effectively to encourage citizens to participate and volunteer in its projects so that all its initiatives are from and for the community
  • Governance: Has the capacity, knowledge, and training to use its resources under good governance practices