On Thursday, January 30, Eurasia Foundation, in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), will officially launch the Civil Society Support Program in Central Asia. Held in Almaty, Kazakhstan, the event will bring together diverse members of Kazakhstan's civil society. Julie Southfield, Deputy Director, USAID / Regional Mission for Central Asian Republics, and Olzhas Batyrbekov, Head of the Department of Interagency Coordination of the Civil Society Committee of the Ministry of Information and Social Development of Kazakhstan, will open the event with statements on the vision of civil society from the governments of the United States and Kazakhstan.

Opening remarks will be followed by a two-hour public discussion on current developments and potential new approaches for the sector, organized in an interactive 'fishbowl' format to encourage guests to actively participate in the debates. Program staff will recieve valuable feedback from civil society leaders about areas for support in the current environment of Central Asia, and suggestions for priority issues on which the Program should concentrate. Discussion topics will include (a) new ways of efficient citizen participation and government-society dialogue-building; (b) how to motivate and involve youth in social projects and community development; (c) the skills gap for both newly emerging and well-established NGOs and civic activists; and (d) the most efficient ways to spend grant funding to enhance financial independence and sustainability.