Social Innovation in Central Asia

2019 - 2024
Woman speaking at a conference
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 22, 2023


  • 480 young leaders from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan
  • 170 youth successfully graduated CAYLA’s e-learning series
  • 8 online courses
  • 85 coaching sessions
  • 67 Youth Leadership Grants
  • 15 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 480 young civic leaders from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan from more than 2,439 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
  • 2 research apprenticeships funded and facilitated in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan
  • 20 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.


  • 107 Innovative Solution Grants awarded in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan
  • 18 In-Kind Grants awarded
  • 18 Civil Society Forums conducted
  • 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. In total, SICA conducted 18 Civil Society Forums, reaching approximately 270,000 people.


  • 84 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

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.


In August 2023, SICA initiated a new program component, titled Advocating for Disability-Inclusive Climate Action in Central Asia (ADCA). ADCA is a 14-month, $625,000 initiative to deepen the involvement of people with disabilities in practically responding to climate change in Central Asia, including climate change mitigation activities. The initiative involves cooperation with more than two dozen organizations of persons with disabilities (OPD) in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The project will focus on strengthening the advocacy capacities of persons with disabilities and their representative organizations as well as increasing the ability of OPDs to inform and influence climate action by Central Asian governments and other actors.

In November 2023, ADCA conducted a four-day offline training for 28 OPD representatives from all four countries to understand the impact of climate change on people with disabilities in Central Asia and collaboratively formulate advocacy and policy solutions. The event will be followed by three in-country workshops and a grants competition to award 14 small disability-inclusive climate action projects.

Learn more about SICA on the program’s website.

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.