Choosing the right partner


When developing a partnership between organizations, you are also developing a partnership between individuals.

As the Sustainable Development Goals Director at The United Nations Association of USA, Atlanta Chapter (UNA-Atlanta), I am dependent on partnerships for our programs. UNA-Atlanta is a volunteer-based non-profit organization with a mission to inform, inspire, and mobilize Americans to support the principles and vital work of the United Nations and its agencies.

Collaboration amongst local organizations with a relatable mission is required for the Chapter to reach various communities. One of UNA-Atlanta’s partners is the Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development of Greater Atlanta (RCE Greater Atlanta) whose mission is to leverage educational resources for regional implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, with a focus on equity and justice. Since May 2020, UNA-Atlanta and RCE Greater Atlanta have engaged in several projects such as our annual event: United Nations Day Celebration, held in October, webinar series: Sustainable Coffee TALK, and our long-term project: Mobilizing Science Education At Home, #100Kits100Lives Challenge.

When discussing partnership terms for each project, I tend to keep things general and fair for all parties (ie. all partners will promote the project to their networks, partners’ logos are displayed on applicable websites and materials). But I also have to consider the strengths of the partnering organization and the partner whom I’ll be talking with on a weekly if not daily basis.

For example, Dr Selen Beduk, Co-Lead of RCE Greater Atlanta’s K-12 Action Group, is an educator in sustainability, climate activist, and is passionate about the works of the United Nations. She is well connected to various universities, primary and secondary educational institutions. Dr Beduk has been instrumental in connecting me to educators to implement the Chapter’s program in bringing Global Goals education into classrooms. She also has a strong work ethic which helps our team stay on task and meet our deadlines. Dr Beduk utilized her skills and networks to spearhead the Mobilizing Science Education At Home, #100Kits100Lives Challenge during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to support  Global Goal 4: Quality Education, Global Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities, and Global Goal 17: Partnerships For The Goals by nurturing science education at home for children in underserved communities. We completed Phase 1 of the Challenge on October 21, 2020, delivering 22 S.T.E.M (Science Technology Engineering Math) kits and lunch to selected students at Indian Creek Elementary School in Clarkston, Georgia, USA.

It is vital to have a partner that is dedicated and rooted in the community that our Chapter is serving. I chose Indian Creek Elementary School as the beneficiary of the #100Kits100Lives Challenge because of an exceptional educator, Dr Adam Nykamp, who genuinely cares for his students and the Clarkston community. I had the opportunity to work with Dr Nykamp on a couple of the Chapter’s events. He introduced me to some of the students and informed me that the majority of the students enter the school as refugees from more than 40 countries, speaking more than 30 different languages and dialects.

Despite their differences, they all have a desire to learn. Math and Science were the majority of the students’ favourite subjects. When Dr Beduk and I started planning for the #100Kits100Lives Challenge, Dr Nykamp educated us on the students’ needs and the challenges in implementing S.T.E.M. education which has worsened due to the pandemic. He coordinated with the school staff, students and parents, and even decorated our distribution area to provide a colourful space for the students to receive their science kits and lunch while practising social distancing. Dr Nykamp continues to offer insights and collaborate with UNA-Atlanta and RCE Greater Atlanta to bring Global Goals education into primary schools.

While choosing the right organization to partner with is certainly important, it is critical to choose the right people to work with to develop the partnership into a sustainable relationship. Passion, time dedication, and organizational skills are the basic key traits to look for in a partner.

Nalat Phanit Black
Nalat Phanit-Black
Sustainable Development Goals Director at United Nations Association of Atlanta | + posts

I am the Sustainable Development Goals Director at the United Nations Association of USA, Atlanta Chapter (UNA-Atlanta). Environmental sustainability and equity is my field of study, passion, and work. My purpose is to bring awareness of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, also known as the Global Goals, and inspire local actions to end extreme poverty, end hunger, reduce inequalities, improve health and education, while creating climate resilient communities.

Through partnering with organizations with similar missions, UNA-Atlanta provides the space and knowledge for change agents to discuss, plan, and implement their ideas to advance the Global Goals across all sectors of society.

My vision of the future is a world where human development and natural environment work in harmony. Harmony, basic human needs can be met by all, lessening the potential for human rights violations, and creating a more peaceful world. My personal ambition is to inspire youths to become global citizens, volunteers, and environmental stewards through education of conservation practices and the human-environment relationship.

I am is a freelance writer and online marketing professional for nonprofits and entrepreneurs. I write stories and blogs on environmental topics, community leadership, and cli-fi to inspire future leaders.

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