Bottom-Up Development in Armenia



The Dilijan Community Center (DCC) is a project of the Scholae Mundi Armenia Charity Foundation and serves as one of the most effective community development entities in Dilijan, Armenia. It is a community center in the small down of Dilijan, in the Tavush region of northern Armenia, that provides cultural, educational, recreational, and self-empowerment programming for adult and children. 

At over 17,000 residents, the DCC provides a space for all: for students to gain language skills, for adults to learn finance skills, for young children to learn Armenian dance, and for the community to convene. The DCC opened in 2014 as a  youth center, and has evolved into a community center to include beneficiaries of all ages, incomes, ethnicities, and more.

The DCC mission is to shape an engaged, educated, and inclusive community, to raise the living standards of residents, and to make Dilijan a more attractive tourist destination. It has over 17 international partners, including the likes of Peace Corps, Good Deeds Day, and Birthright Armenia, as well as over 50 local partners. Among the programs that the DCC provides for the community are kid’s mindfulness and yoga club, organizational fundraising workshops, make-up tutorials, Armenian traditional dance teams, theater, choir, English courses, debate workshops, and more.

The DCC has brought a lot of global attention to its small town, from helping Dilijan become part of the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities to helping bring peace poles sponsored by the Rotary Club International. The DCC also hosts the Diamond Challenge, which is the first international youth entrepreneurship competition for Armenian students. In addition, the DCC has helped local businesses, such as Armmat, start a women-owned small business, as well as the Dilijan Football Club. The DCC focuses on development trends and applies them to development in their own community to best build the capacities of Dilijan people and more.

A recent program that was highly impactful was a rural women’s business development program called Accelerate Gosh. Gosh is a village about 30 minutes outside of Dilijan. It can be difficult for Gosh residents to reap the benefits of DCC programming due to lack of frequent transportation. To overcome this obstacle, the DCC and partner, MADE, received a Global Women’s Development and Prosperity Peace Corps grant to fund transportation for 13 Gosh women to attend business development and product development trainings. In the end, there was an increase in competency in all of the topics taught. This program framework will be replicated with other rural  communities around Dilijan in the future.

The DCC’s programming is for the community, by the community. If you want to learn how to create bottom-up impact, the DCC is a great case study for such work!

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