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Skateistan Pilot Advisory Project

Skateistan’s project leverages the enthusiasm of newer skate-focused youth projects, to scale out access to education through skateboarding

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What problem does your innovation solve?

Skateistan's innovation tackles the problem of barriers to safe and inclusive education. Through education programs which provide a safe community where children can play and learn, free from discrimination and violence, children come to understand themselves as equal with others, while learning new skills and building confidence and friendships. The Advisory Project would help scale out these programs so more children, particularly girls, can benefit in emergency situations around the world.

Explain your innovation.

The pilot advisory project would see three promising projects receive training and follow up mentoring on how to develop and deliver aspects of Skateistan’s education programs, as well as some support in governance and Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL). Training would take place over conference calls with experienced Skateistan field staff, as well as on site at the project locations and at the Skateistan Skate Schools. We are extremely proud of the work we do with our students and eager to see as many children as possible benefit from our programs. While Skateistan has successfully opened Skate Schools across regions and continents, the fully operated Skate School growth-model takes time and can be resource heavy. We believe there is an alternative and lighter approach to spreading Skateistan’s education programs and impact in a sustainable way. As such, Skateistan would like to contribute to best practice in Sport for Development, by sharing its knowledge and MEL experience with other organizations. The outcomes of the Advisory Project are: 1. Participating organizations are equipped and empowered to provide inclusive programs. 2. Participating organizations have an increased ability to integrate education into their skate programming. 3. Participating organizations are seen as safe environments, having positive impact in their communities. 4. Accessible training resources for use by administrators of Sports and Education based after-school programming

Who benefits?

Skateistan is currently in contact with multiple organizations around the world that wish to benefit from its knowledge and advice. At the time of writing, Skateistan had identified three promising organizations that align closely with Skateistan’s mission and are eager to participate in the Advisory Project, so that they can build their capacity to better serve the education needs of disadvantaged children. These organizations are based in Jordan, Liberia, and Palestine respectively, and benefit hundreds of local and refugee children between the ages of 5 and 17, with a specific focus on girls.

How is your innovation unique?

Skateistan is the first international development initiative to combine skateboarding with educational outcomes and is a pioneering Sport for Development project. Since Skateistan developed its concept of using skateboarding as a hook into education, other organizations have sprung up globally using similar concepts. To capitalize on this development, Skateistan proposes to implement a new Advisory Project which will leverage existing skills and enthusiasm from Skateboarding for Development projects around the world, to build the capacity of nascent organizations and help spread the potential impact of the projects through peer-to-peer learning.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?

We have not yet definitively decided which other skateboarding organizations would be the best fit in terms of both their capacity-building needs, and also their ability to successfully scale out access to education programs through skateboarding. A final selection of benefiting organizations would be made using a specified criteria, upon confirmation of funding for the project.

Tell us more about you.

Skateistan is an international non-profit founded in 2007 by Australian Oliver Percovich. Skateistan uses skateboarding and education for youth empowerment. Over 2,000 children, aged 5-17, attend free programs each week at our Skate Schools in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa. They come for skateboarding and stay for education. Using skateboarding as the hook, we have provided sport and education projects to thousands of youth, in particular girls, disabled youth, and street working youth.

What is the primary type of emergency setting where your innovation would operate?

  • Armed conflict
  • Prolonged displacement

Emergency Setting - Elaborate

Skateistan is currently looking to partner with three Skateboarding for Development organizations in Jordan, Liberia, and Palestine. These countries have been or are currently affected by complex humanitarian emergencies including a huge influx of refugees, recent disease epidemics, and long-standing conflict and security challenges. Skateistan's Advisory Project model would also be transferable to any other emergency situation where skateboarding could be used to enhance access to education.

Where will your innovation be implemented?

Skateistan's international HQ is based in Berlin, Germany, with our existing education programs based in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa. We currently propose working with newer skateboarding projects based in Jordan, Liberia, and Palestine. Our previous experience of working in Africa and Asia, including in conflict and emergency environments, will help us tailor our project to fit local contexts.

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • No, not yet.

In-country Networks

Whilst Skateistan does not have experience of working in Jordan, Liberia, or Palestine, the partner organizations we would be advising are based there and have significant in-country experience and networks.

Sector Expertise

  • I've worked in a sector related to my innovation for more than a year.

Sector Expertise - Elaborate

Skateistan began as a grassroots Sport for Development project on the streets of Kabul in 2007, and has grown into an award-winning, international NGO with Skate Schools in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa. Skateistan is the first international development initiative to combine skateboarding with educational outcomes and is a pioneering Sport for Development project.

Innovation Maturity

  • Early Stage Innovation: I am exploring my innovation, refining, researching, and gathering inspiration.

Organization Status

  • We are a registered non-profit, charity, NGO, or community-based organization.

Organization Location

Skateistan gGmbH is the organization’s governing non-profit corporation based in Berlin, Germany.


How has your Idea changed based on feedback?

During the project design process, Skateistan commissioned feedback from potential beneficiary organizations. As a result, and also based upon feedback we received from OpenIDEO reviewers and during a staff meeting to create our User Experience Map, potential areas for institutional advice which Skateistan could provide to new organizations now includes sustainable budgeting and fundraising, as well as using HCD processes to inform organizations’ program design and implementation.

Who will implement this Idea?

The project would see Skateistan provide organizations with training on aspects of our existing education programs, and in areas such as monitoring, evaluation and learning, HCD, and governance. Training would take place over conference calls with Skateistan field staff, as well as in-country at project locations in emergency contexts, and Skateistan Skate Schools in Africa and Asia. The project would be managed by one staff member, located across our head office in Berlin and our Skate Schools, with training also provided by other existing Skateistan staff depending on the support requested.

What challenges do your end-users face? (1) What is the biggest challenge that your end-users face on a day-to-day, individual level? (2) What is the biggest systems-level challenge that affects your end-users?

Our direct beneficiaries are new organizations seeking advice about establishing themselves as Skateboarding-for-Development organizations who can enhance education in emergency contexts. Challenges organizations face are specific to each organization and local context but include how to best use Skateboarding as an inclusive hook into education, and then building enough capacity in fundraising, communications, and MEL to ensure interventions are sustainable. At the systems-level, a wider challenge is how to align informal education programs with existing (or future) formal education services. Doing so is important to ensure that where (or once) formal education opportunities are available, in public schools for example, the transition into full-time education is as smooth as possible.

How is your organization considering sustainable growth in order to continue making an impact over time?

Skateistan is funded by various governments, foundations, corporate sponsorships, international fundraising, co-branding agreements and special projects, and has affiliate non-profit fundraising entities in Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and the US. Skateistan also generates revenue through merchandize sales. The Skateistan brand is a registered trademark and Skateistan has entered into a number of co-branding agreements with top skateboarding companies. Additionally, Skateistan has its own charity clothing line that includes t-shirts, hoodies, and bags, as well as a monthly donor program.

Tell us about your vision for this project: (1) share one sentence about the impact that you would like to see from this project in five years and (2) what is the biggest question/hurdle you need to address to get there?

IMPACT: By 2021, new Skateboarding-for-Development organizations deliver inclusive, sustainable education programs in emergency contexts worldwide, guided by support, mentoring and best practice resources delivered by Skateistan QUESTION: How does Skateistan continually adapt our training resources to ensure they are contextually relevant for nascent organizations which may vary in terms of their scope and capacity - and especially in terms of the local contexts and cultures they operate in?

How do you currently measure (or plan to measure) outcomes for this project?

Outcomes: empower organizations to provide inclusive education programs; increase their ability to integrate education into their skate programs; ensure they are seen as safe environments having positive community impact; and provide accessible training resources for sports and education programs. Impact and progress in learning would be measured iteratively through a combination of external evaluation by Skateistan and on-going feedback (reports, interviews) from participating organizations.

What is the timeline for your project Idea? What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years?

Months 0-6: Skateistan creates training resources. Learning throughout the project feeds into new iterations, available online for other Skateboarding and Sport-for-Development organizations. Months 6-18: NGOs selected through an open process. Criteria includes they fit the Skateboarding-for-Development vision, and enhance access to education in emergencies. Support starts when organizations visit a Skateistan Skate School. 3 months later, a Skateistan expert visits to begin ongoing training.

My organization's operational budget for 2016 was:

  • Between $500,000 and $1,000,000 USD

How many of your team’s paid, full-time staff are currently based in the location where the beneficiaries of your proposed Idea live?

  • No paid, full-time staff

Is your organization registered in the country that you intend to implement your Idea in?

  • We are a registered entity, but not in the country in which we plan to implement our Idea.

How long have you and your colleagues been working on this Idea together?

  • Between 6 months and 1 year

What do you need the most support with for your innovation?

  • Business Development / Partnerships Support


Join the conversation:

Photo of Baber Mr

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Photo of TallyMenning

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Here is a culture conflict described a . Isn't that curious enough to research?

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Hi Skateistan Team!

We’re excited to share feedback and questions from our experts with you. We encourage you to think about this feedback as you continue to improve and refine your Idea. You are welcome to respond in the comments section and/or to incorporate feedback into the text of your Idea. Your Idea and all associated comments will all be reviewed during the final review process.

Our expert reviewers were excited by the ways in which your Idea addresses a problem that is pressing and real in the education space, while linking directly to better education outcomes for children in an innovative way!

Based on your knowledge and experience, is this a new approach or bold way of answering the Challenge question?
One expert stated: “Skateistan’s core model has been effective in improving educational outcomes of students. This advisory project is a new approach that would see other local organisations harness the knowledge and experiences of the Skateistan project with the aim to have a similar impact in a way that can be replicated quickly and with less resources.”
Another shared “The video is fantastic, however isn't focussed on the Ideas challenge and answering the question. Learning: literacy and other subjects.Youth leader, pass onto new students. Would it work in other contexts in the same way?”

Is this idea human-centered? How does this Idea consider user needs?
One reviewer stated: “This Idea uses its established training and knowledge in incorporating education into skate programs to empower local organisations to better serve the needs of their users. The local project administrators are best placed to know the needs of their users so this approach will allow them to leverage their existing skills through peer-to-peer learning to have a bigger impact - as opposed to implementing a more off-the-shelf model that is less tailored to the local context.”
Another shared “While there is a large evidence base (including on the Skateistan website) on the experience in Afghanistan, it is hard to know what HCD process has been involved in the development of the Advisory Project to support potential partner organisations in 3 other countries. As those partners are not identified, there is no way to verify (based on the information in the challenge Idea) what education needs exist and how a skateistan-model would assist in addressing those. As such, it would be useful to address HCD principles in refining the challenge Idea, relating to the 3 new countries given Skateistan has not worked there.”

Experts feedback on your business model:
One reviewer stated: “This Idea has the potential to develop a model for sustainability long-term – it is deliberately resource light and aims to give participating local organisations the skills to become self-sustainable (however there is a question around if the training delivered includes advice regarding how to create a sustainable funding model/budgeting etc).”

Questions and final thoughts
Is the majority of support/training provided just for skate projects? Or are the training resources intended to be utilised (open source) for use by any administrators of sports and education programs?
Does the training include any aspects of budgeting/creating sustainable funding model/grant writing etc? As identified in the application, it would be good to get a clear picture of how organisations are selected to take part.”
Why was the name 'The Advisory Project' chosen for this challenge Idea? - Are you seeking funding from elsewhere for this Idea? The Advisory Project is being called a 'pilot project' for the 3 new countries - do they classify as pilots with 3 countries already implementing education projects?
Would you classify this as innovation funding, or funding to implement your existing project in other countries?
Is there any evidence from the 3 new countries (from the potential partner organisations) of human centred design in the identification of the problems around access to safe and inclusive education, and how these might be solved?”

“Great to see the clearly stated project outcomes and the focus on governance, monitoring, evaluation and learning. I love the mantra “come for skateboarding, stay for education”. You mentioned the fully operated Skate School growth-model takes time and can be resource heavy – it would be good to get an Idea of what will be compromised in this lighter approach.”

In case you missed it, check out this Storytelling Toolkit for inspiration for crafting strong and compelling stories: Storytelling is an incredibly useful tool to articulate an Idea and make it come to life for those reading it. Don’t forget - August 6 at 11:59PM PST is your last day to make changes to your Idea on the OpenIDEO platform.

Have questions? Email us at

Looking forward to reading more!

Photo of Chris

Many thanks for your comments which have been extremely helpful in advancing our project design. Where possible, your comments have been incorporated into the latest round of supplemental answers as part of our final application. For example we have taken a more HCD approach to understanding potential beneficiaries’ needs both from staff input at a staff meeting as part of our User Experience Mapping exercise, but also by considering feedback from potential beneficiaries themselves.

As a result of this feedback, and also from your reviewers’ comments, we have added that support from Skateistan to potential beneficiaries could include advice on fundraising and budgeting with a view to enhancing participant organizations’ sustainability, as well as advice on how to implement HCD processes into their program design, planning and implementation.

Also in response to your feedback, and following consultation with our IT consultant, we will ensure that any training materials produced as part of the project will be available online (open source) for both Skateboarding-for-Development organizations in particular but also Sport-for-Development organizations in general. Having this broader approach in mind will also ensure that we tailor our training outputs to a sector-wide audience and so, for example, take into account things like the UN Sustainable Development Goals when thinking about how skateboarding in particular, but also sport in general, can advance global development goals relating to issues such as education and peace-building.

Unfortunately we weren’t able to respond to all of your comments within the supplemental answers so for completeness would also like to add here that we have indeed sought funding for this project from elsewhere (including from relevant companies who might be interested in this type of project) but as yet have been unsuccessful in securing funds.

In answer to other queries about how our Advisory Project innovation and name came about, the background is that a growing number of start-up organizations began approaching Skateistan seeking our advice. To meet this growing demand, and following consultations with potential beneficiary organizations, our ‘Advisory Project’ was conceived.

This would be the first time such an approach has been taken, using our experience from Skateistan’s existing project sites in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and South Africa, as well as our international office in Berlin, to build the capacity of, but also learn from, newer Skateboarding-for-Development and education organizations in emergency contexts. By adopting this lighter touch approach, we would be able to minimize centralized resource expenditure but without compromising on education program delivery as this would be devolved to the local, in-country level, through already established organizations.

This pilot project would initially focus on providing advice to organizations in three emergency afflicted countries and if it proved successful, could be scaled out to other countries around the world. In doing so, two way peer-to-peer learning between Skateistan and start-up organizations and also between the new organizations themselves, would help solve common global access to education problems but in a context-specific and culturally adapted way.

Photo of Ashley Tillman

Hi Chris, thanks for your thorough response. One more followup question, can you share any data or stories around how your programs to-date increase the educational outcomes of the girls in your programs? If you are not tracking this yet, is this something you are planning for in the future?

Photo of Chris

Thank you for your question, Ashley.

A summary of impact data and narrative success stories arising from our education programs can be found in our recently released 2016 Annual Report here:

Please see pages 10-11 for a high-level, global overview of key quantitative data and, for example, pages 22-23 and 26-27 for a few personal success stories. You may also wish to refer to page 43 regarding our ‘Give her Five’ campaign, launched in December 2016, which focused on girls’ empowerment.

More generally speaking, at Skateistan we monitor the impact of our educational programs through a wide range of outcomes and indicators which correspond to our Theory of Change. An internal monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) process is overseen by Skateistan’s development team at our Berlin international office, and implemented by national management staff in our project locations across Afghanistan, Cambodia, and South Africa.

Our monitoring uses quantitative and qualitative evaluation tools including attendance data, individual demographic data, interviews, observation, reports and case studies, and follow up contact (for at least a year after program completion) with schools to measure impact and inform plans for future growth.

At Skateistan, we also engage with external evaluators and academic researchers to ensure that our monitoring, evaluation and the lessons we learn from it, are in line with current best practice. For example we are members of the Action Impact Network which is helping to pave the way for best practice in MEL within the Sport-for-Development sector. See for example:

I hope this helps answer your questions, but please don’t hesitate to contact us if further information would assist.

Best wishes,