What is a Program?

After much deliberation in the Istanbul conference, CARE conference participants from around the world reached agreement on the definition and defining characteristics of a program. Below are the agreed upon definitions that were finalized and distributed to all conference participants on April 14, 2008.
Note that changes can no longer be made to the definition and characteristics (at least not for at least a couple of years of testing how they play out in our work). However, you may click on any of the links below to provide comments or engage in discussions on any of these elements so that we can continue the meaningmaking process until our next face-to-face meeting.

Definition of a Program

A program is a coherent set of initiatives by CARE and our allies that involves a long term commitment to specific marginalized and vulnerable groups to achieve lasting impact at broad scale on underlying causes of poverty and social injustice. This goes beyond the scope of projects to achieve positive changes in human conditions, in social positions and in the enabling environment.

Defining Characeristics of a CARE program

  1. A clearly defined goalfor impact on the lives of a specific group, realized at broad scale.
  2. A thorough analysisof underlying causes of poverty and social injustice at multiple levels with multiple stakeholders.
  3. An explicit theory of changethat is rigorously tested and adapted to reflect ongoing learning.
  4. A coherent set of initiativesthat enable CARE and our partners to contribute significantly to the transformation articulated in the theory of change.
  5. Ability to promote organizational and social learning, to generate knowedge and evidence of impact.
  6. Contribution to broad movements for social changethrough our work with and strengthening of partners, networks and alliances.
  7. A strategy to leverage and influence the use and allocation of financial and other resourceswithin society for maximizing change at a broader scale.
  8. Accountability systems to internal and external stakeholders.

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Program Definition and Characteristics (English)
Program Definition and Characteristics (Spanish)
Program Definition and Characteristics (French)
Definition of a Program (Arabic)
Defining Characteristics of a Program (Arabic)
Program Approach Training
Introduction to program apprroach, June 2011

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