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Centered in Equity Across the Technical Assistance Project Lifecycle


January 12, 2023

Equity is the cornerstone of our work at Abt, and we are on a generations-long journey to integrate an intersectional approach in all our internal and external projects and processes to address systemic biases and help ensure more equitable distribution of resources and wellbeing outcomes. This paper explains how we infuse equity in all phases of our technical assistance project lifecycle and provides examples of how we do it.

We ground our technical assistance (TA) approach in an understanding of historical and ongoing systemic inequities. We ask at every phase: “Are we being inclusive?”, “Are we sharing power to cocreate innovative solutions?”, and “Are we aware of the historical and ongoing systemic and institutional inequities that inform context?”  

We have four phases in our TA project lifecycle:

1. Engage & Assess
At the start of every TA experience, we listen with humility. We engage because we want to understand people’s current experiences, historical context, and the impetus for change. We collaborate with partners and impacted community members to jointly design assessment approaches, explore and define goals, and initiate planning. We raise and reflect on questions to determine if we are engaging and assessing inclusively and equitably.

2. Plan & Implement
Cocreation in the plan and implement phase builds on a foundation of equity-centered practices and norms we develop in the Engage & Assess phase. In this phase, we focus on comprehensive level-setting to ensure each person has what they need to fully participate in the project. Equitable level-setting ensures that team members receive adequate orientation, acknowledgement that their partnership is valued, and resources to set them up for success.

3. Monitor & Adjust
The third phase focuses on monitoring inclusively for challenges and adjusting to increase equitable progress. This phase provides opportunities to deepen our equity approach through continuous assessment and quality improvement efforts.

4. Reflect & Sustain
Abt uses an intersectional approach for its team reflection and sustainability efforts. We start before engaging with clients, partners, and communities and embed reflection and sustainability as an essential element of the entire project lifecycle. We review all aspects of project infrastructure, staffing, programming, and operations for adherence to equitable principles, processes, and practices. In our own equity journey as the TA & I Capability Center continues to evolve and learn, our team renamed this phase from Evaluate and Sustain to Reflect and Sustain to encompass more precise language for our work.

Download the paper to read more details, including two project stories from Abt staff in Colombia and Madison, WI, who are working to advance equity.