Learning Brief: Collaborating, Learning and Adapting the PACE Process on the Sowing Futures Program

Global Communities’ Sowing Futures program, funded by the John Deere Foundation (JDF), applies Global Communities’ Participatory Action for Community Enhancement (PACE) methodology for community development, youth engagement and institutional strengthening in southern Brazil. The program’s first phase, which began in late 2014, was implemented in 10 communities in and around Horizontina, Brazil (the location of one of John Deere’s factories in the region). The second phase, which began in early 2018, expanded these activities to Indaiatuba and Campinas in Brazil, as well as across the border in Rosario, Argentina.

The PACE methodology is well aligned with USAID’s Collaborating, Learning, Adapting (CLA) approach, which is a set of practices to help improve development outcomes through strategic collaboration, intentional learning, regular adaptation and supportive enabling conditions.1 PACE is, at its core, a partnership approach that helps communities identify and engage the right collaborators—including government, civil society and private sector actors—to make meaningful improvements while strengthening local capacity for broad-based participatory decision-making. PACE teams rely on continuous learning as they engage communities and deepen their understanding of local context. The importance of a context-appropriate approach makes flexibility a defining feature of PACE, which is designed to allow program teams in a wide range of community settings to effectively promote participatory development processes.

Sowing Futures provides a strong example of how PACE programs build CLA principles, such as continuous learning, activity adaptation and inclusive partnership into program implementation. This paper provides a brief discussion of how the Sowing Futures team has used CLA practices to ensure that key elements of the PACE methodology suit the specific needs and assets of target communities and incorporate and adapt to learning throughout the program cycle.