The Power of Local Partnership


Local people always know their own neighborhoods best.

It’s a fundamental truth that drives everything we do here at ChildFund – and it’s why we work through grassroots organizations made up of people who live in the area and who have a stake in creating the conditions their children need to thrive. These local partner organizations work alongside kids and families in locally relevant ways to help more children achieve their potential.

ChildFund works this way because we believe in partnership, not patronization. We believe that local ownership of change is critical to improving children’s lives, and we believe that by acting in partnership, we can all do more for each other.

Working together — sharing resources, knowledge and experience — we can create greater impact in the short term and build stronger communities in the long term.

Through these partnerships, ChildFund reaches kids directly while also involving parents, teachers and local governments in upholding children’s rights. And we ensure that the positive changes we’re working toward together – like better access to education, health, safety and opportunity – really stick.


Catarina, 10, and Damaris, a staff member with one of ChildFund’s local partner organizations in Guatemala, enjoy playing with hula hoops together. Field workers from ChildFund’s local partners have continued to visit homes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to encourage children and monitor their well-being.

Why local partners?

Together, ChildFund, its local partners and the kids and families we work with are cocreating societies that recognize children’s worth, protect their rights and nurture their potential. Because local people know their own neighborhoods best. Families know their own dynamics best. And children know what it’s like to be them better than anyone.

  • Population Access and Influence

    Through local partner organizations, we have a more direct relationship with children and communities that are experiencing poverty and other challenges, as well as the governments that serve them.
  • Program Relevancy and Adaptation

    Strong, well-established local partners understand their communities and work with them to identify priority issues to address through programs that they tailor to local needs.
  • Community Ownership

    Given their roots in the community, local partners can promote stronger local decision making and have a greater effect on the local power base. They are also best positioned to check up on the children on a regular basis: Every six months, local partners make sure each enrolled child is still living in the community and participating in our programs, and check on their health and education status.
  • Sustainability

    Local partners can more ably sustain efforts to support kids’ well-being over successive generations, long after ChildFund’s financial commitments to them end.
  • Efficiency

    Working through local partners allows us to share resources for maximum impact in kids’ lives.


Phoebe (left), a staff member with ChildFund’s local partner organization Mbale Area Federation of Communities, walks with Rachel, 4, and her grandmother, Mary, during a home visit in Uganda. Local partner staff regularly check on the children enrolled in ChildFund’s programs.

Phoebe's story

The staff of ChildFund’s local partner organizations have deep roots in the communities where they work because they live there. They speak local languages, understand local challenges and have a strong grasp on what it’s like to be a child growing up in that community. In fact, some of our local partner staff were once sponsored children themselves.

Phoebe, 26, is one of them. She works for Mbale Area Federation of Communities (MAFOC), the local partner organization that supported her as a child, in Mbale, Uganda.

“When I was young, I didn't have a clear picture of who I wanted to become,” Phoebe says. All she knew was that she wanted to learn and, eventually, go to university. Phoebe remembers the sadness she felt when, as a young child, she was pulled out of her first day of primary school because her parents realized they couldn’t afford to pay all the fees. She had to wait at home for an extra year while they saved money.

Eventually, Phoebe was enrolled in a program with MAFOC – and that’s when things started to change.

“When they enrolled me, I remember there was a social worker called Margret,” Phoebe says. “Margret liked me so much. Whenever I would go to the office … whenever they would call me there, I admired her.

“One day I asked her what she did for her to be there to do whatever she was doing. And then she told me I have to study and become a social worker. That’s how I could be in her position. … She became like my role model at that time.”

With Margret’s guidance, Phoebe learned about everything she had to do to achieve her dream of going to university – and, over time, it began to seem more and more possible. With financial support from her sponsor, her family bought several goats and a cow. The livestock multiplied and eventually brought in enough income to fund Phoebe’s college education.

As a young adult, Phoebe divided her time between studying on campus and interning for MAFOC. When she graduated from college with her diploma in social work, she continued volunteering with the organization. “They saw me as a capable person to work there, and they gave me a job,” Phoebe smiles. “I am so grateful for that.”

Phoebe’s favorite part of her job is helping kids write letters to their sponsors – “and also the stories that children tell,” she says. She enjoys being the liaison between children and all the other people in her community.

“I like associating with people, and I think it’s a good thing,” she says. “You learn a lot from people in the community.”

But she also doesn’t want to stop here. She has plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in social work – maybe even a Ph.D. “I want to go back to school,” Phoebe says. “That’s my dream.”