Social Innovation in Central Asia

2019 - 2024
Area of Expertise

Social Innovation in Central Asia (SICA) is a five-year, $18 million USAID-funded initiative to cultivate a vibrant and responsive civil society throughout the region, including Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, and build a new generation of forward-looking civil society leaders.

The program has four inter-related objectives:

  • Foster a cohort of civically responsible young leaders;
  • Strengthen civil society’s role in promoting greater public transparency and accountability;
  • Enhance civil society’s ability to quickly respond to emerging opportunities; and
  • Build the capacity of civil society organizations to be financially viable and responsive to constituents.

Results as of November 24, 2022


  • 342 participants from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan
  • 170 youth successfully graduated CAYLA’s e-learning series
  • 8 online courses
  • 85 coaching sessions
  • Over 200 consultations
  • 48 CAYLA members received mentorship support
  • 112 CAYLA alumni participated in three networking camps
  • 56 Youth Leadership Grants
  • 14 Social Idea Accelerator Grants

In 2020, SICA launched the Central Asia Youth Leadership Academy (CAYLA) for civically responsible young leaders who share goals, values, and passion for positive change in their communities. The inaugural cohort included 163 young civic leaders from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Within three years, SICA has recruited 342 young civic leaders from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan from more than 1,700 applicants. Each cycle, launched with a CAYLA Regional Kickoff Conference, offers young civic leaders inspiration, training, and mentorship opportunities. CAYLA members study foundational skills in community engagement and leadership via interactive and engaging online activities. After graduating from CAYLA, the participants apply their new knowledge and experience through community change projects, supported with small grants and targeted technical assistance from SICA. At each step, CAYLA members have an opportunity to network with their peers, civic leaders, established CSOs, and local government officials to share lessons about effective community initiatives.


  • 78 participants from Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan
  • 81 professionals completed data visualization training and published compelling visualizations of issues in Central Asia
  • 9 research apprenticeships funded and facilitated in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan
  • 18 Transparency Advocacy Grants awarded
  • 14 Policy Research Projects awarded

The SICA Policy Research School (PRS) offers mentoring, workshops, on-the-job training, and peer-to-peer exchanges for CSOs, think tanks, and independent researchers that build needed capacities for participation in policy development and the role of watchdogs in monitoring the public sector. PRS engaged its members in an advanced budget advocacy and public procurement transparency curriculum tailored to the policy areas of highest priority for them and aimed at improving ongoing advocacy initiatives and designing future campaigns on the budget process. SICA also awards grants (more than $580,000 to date) to support advocacy and research projects in Central Asia that strengthen civil society’s role in promoting transparency, public accountability, and policy research.


  • 82 Innovative Solution Grants awarded in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan
  • 15 In-Kind Grants awarded
  • 12 Civil Society Forums conducted
  • 631 learners completed the Social Innovation course
  • 3 Exchange Network Grants awarded

SICA is designed to provide civil society actors with the resources they need to strengthen their work and address the priorities of their communities. To allow civil society to identify where they see the greatest need for investment, SICA provides resources through ongoing, flexible grant competitions (over $1.4 million USD obligated) to solicit and support timely project ideas and promote positive citizen participation and social innovations. Projects funded promote transparency and accountability, revitalized and inclusive communities, and opportunities and protections for all.


  • 85 civil society organizations engaged as members of the Institutional Development Program from Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan
  • 24 institutional development experts trained to use the SICA Institutional Assessment Toolkit
  • 6 civil society workshops
  • 8 online courses

Civil society organizations perform diverse and important tasks in Central Asian countries, and SICA develops the skills, tools, and capacities of such organizations to diversify their funding sources and increase engagement with their constituents. CSOs from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan have joined the Institutional Development Program. To support an evidence-based approach for capacity building in Central Asia, SICA developed an Institutional Assessment Toolkit that its experts use to conduct tailored assessments and provide training in targeted areas for growth. In 2021, SICA began offering Institutional Development Grants (average $15,000) to help CSOs address capacity gaps and better pursue their organizational missions.


This program description is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the sole responsibility of Eurasia Foundation and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.